“Seed Stories: Part V”

These last two seed storires (assuming I don’t receive anymore submissions from my loyal readers) will turn our eyes back stateside, because that’s where I think we have the most trouble with this “incarnational missions” thing. We can do it or applaud it in Togo or Timbuktu, but it’s hard to see our current context as a mission field needing exactly the same kind of intentionality. I hope you will be inspired by these stories of ordinary folks being used to do extraordinary things in the Kingdom.

This is a re-print of a blog I posted on March 11, 2005. It bears repeating. Enjoy.

Greg Willis: Austin Monk

Greg Willis’ mission field is a supermarket.

In 2003, he resigned from a youth ministry position in Waco, where Ashlee and Jessica Simpson were in his youth group (and father Joe Simpson was his boss). Greg had heard the voice of God on a ride home from work. When he told Jolie, his wife, that he felt pretty confident he was supposed to quit his comfy job, she cried and told him she felt the same.

The couple moved to Austin, but Greg didn’t start looking for open positions at churches. He took a job at a whole foods supermarket near downtown Austin. Greg laughs as he remembers his interviewer’s comments about his resume: “A master’s of divinity from Southwestern Seminary — I’ve never seen a resume like this before…”

Working in the bulk department in a store frequented by health savvy and environmentally aware college students, yuppies, and granola-eating “gray ponytailed” folks, Greg’s mission field is not the customers. Quietly and faithfully, Greg has developed meaningful relationships with his co-workers, a group of which come to his house once a week and join him at a local pub some days after work.

You see, Greg looks at his job this way: God pays him a modest wage to hang out with lost people all day. His workplace is his mission field.

Greg challenges me. Greg challenges my secret desire to put my fiscal security above my heavenly treasures. He challenges my tendency to separate “Church activities” from “work activities.” Work is church to Greg.

What would happen if Christians everywhere began to see their jobs this way? What if their witness was quiet and relational, seeking to engage their co-workers instead of pushing them away with judgment or fear? I believe the first Christians were like Greg — they wouldn’t think of separating “church” from the rest of their lives.

We shouldn’t either.

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