My company has a quarterly all company required meeting that is a basic catch up with what's going on with the company for the employees. A new element was added to the meeting this quarter. Employees who are involved in their community are being featured to show how our employees are diverse, come from different backgrounds and bring a uniqueness to the company. At last week's meeting, I was asked to speak for five minutes about my mission trip to China.
I immediately said yes to the request. However, after giving it thought and prayer, I went back to the girl who coordinates the meetings and mentioned to her that the trip was a mission trip with my church (which everyone knows anyway) and asked if it was okay for me to mention that or talk about religious topics. If not, I wasn't sure if I would want to talk about it because the trip had nothing to do with me or any personal agenda of mine and in no means should bring me any type of recognition. She assured me that it was okay and mentioned that part of the goal of this new aspect of the meeting was to showcase the diversity among our employees.
So, I was really nervous about the whole thing. I put a bunch of prayer warriors on the case! And, most of those warriors think it's odd that I say I was nervous because I'm a loud mouth, but really. I don't like talking in front of large groups.
My presentation was about two hours into our three hour meeting. Out of the two employee presenters, I went first (of course). We were given five minutes each and as my normal presentation of the China trip is a hour long, I decided to show a video clip and do a high level overview of why we went and what we were doing. I didn't really prepare that much since I've done a five minute spill probably 20 million times by now. But, I knew that I had to share with my company that it was more than a mission trip with my church. I had to share my faith. I felt as if God was saying "all right, Miss Clark. Let's see what you're made of. You can talk the talk now walk the walk."
During the meeting, I was praying and telling God that I knew He would give me the words to say. I was nervous beyond explanation. When it was my turn, I first mentioned that I thought it was great that our company would let us share our extracurricular activities with each other without persecuting us. The use of the word persecuted garnered quite a few laughs.
Then, I launched into it. Brantley had sent me Luke 12:11-12 as an encouragement last week:
Luke 12:11-12 (The Message) "...don't worry about defending yourselves—what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there. The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes."
How true are God's promises! I'll honestly admit that I've thought people who talk about having these surreal-out-of-body experiences were a little quacky, but I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit took over and spoke in my place for those few minutes. It was surreal and the weirdest feeling I think I've ever experienced. I don't remember too much of what I said. I do know that I said before I could share about the trip that I had to provide a background of my faith and what I believe and why I went. Then, I did a quick probably two sentence summary of the Evangelism Explosion gospel outline (yea for EE!). By the way, using the outline as a method of sharing my faith during the presentation had not crossed my mind prior to the meeting. It was a true testament to how the right words were there when the time came. He gave me a voice bigger than mine.
I shared that as a follower of Jesus, I am commanded to share the Gospel with others and that James teaches us that an example of true Christian sacrificial love is to care for orphans and widows in their distress. He has given me a passion to serve others. To love those who aren't loved. To be a friend to the friendless. I explained that was why I went. Then, I shared a high level explanation of what we did and showed the video.
This was by far one of the scariest things I've ever done. I believe that God uses every experience to teach us if we'll let Him. His mercies are new each day. In all honesty, I've never stood up in front of a large group of non-believers who are my peers and proclaimed the Gospel. Stick me in front of orphans, prisoners, elderly widows, abused women or the homeless - no problem (well, almost no problem). But, there's something about the average, middle class, normal, everyday working American that terrifies me. And, God's revealed to me that it is a fear of rejection. A fear of not being accepted. A fear of being made fun of. I like for people to like me. I also think that sometimes I make assumptions about the average, middle class, normal, everyday working American and assume that since they are like me, they're probably a believer and maybe they aren't just bearing fruit and maybe it's okay to ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit to witness to them. We're a Christian nation, right? But, I'm learning to throw those prejudices and stereotypes and beliefs and fears away and give them to Him because I'm no better than the orphan, the prisoner, the widow, the abused or the homeless and neither are my peers. We all need salvation and a relationship with Jesus Christ.
It's been awesome to see how God used me to encourage other believers in my company last week. When I started sharing the gospel, I looked up and caught eyes with a lady who works with me and she was smiling and nodding. Right behind her, was my friend Jared who is a believer, and he was smiling and nodding. It was so calming and reassuring to see them doing that. After the meeting, I received a nice email from the lady thanking me for being bold. I've also received words of encouragement from other believers and in return have been able to encourage them.
And, I have no doubt that God planted seeds in my coworkers last week. I've had quite a few people mention that I inspire them to do more or that they really enjoyed the video. I just pray that the words got through and they understand that I'm not the inspiring part. Jesus is. I'm just a servant. The Parable of the Seed in Mark 4 is perhaps one of my favorite passages.
Mark 4:26-29 (NASB):
26And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil;
27and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows--how, he himself does not know.
28"The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.
29"But when the crop permits, he immediately (A)puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
We are commanded to spread the Word of God and we might never see the results of our labor on this side of eternity, but He promises that the harvest will come. And, I pray that God is working in the soil of my coworkers hearts and until they are ripe, I'll continue to sow everyday.
Ezekiel 36:24-28 (The Message): "...I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands."