I walked into the restaurant just outside
He had informed me about something special that was taking place in the Riverview Community Bank and the city of
However, this day I wanted to learn more about Chuck's story and his own personal journey. As Chuck began to tell me his story he used terms like "God said this to me" or "the Lord said he was going to do this or that." He was confident in his ability to hear God's voice. He recalls God saying to him on Oct 20. 1998 that He trusted Chuck and that He wanted Chuck to take Him out of the box he had Him (Jesus) in. According to Chuck, nothing has been the same since.
As director of the International Coalition of Workplace Ministries and Marketplace Leaders I hear lots of testimonies from those in the marketplace. So, I needed to know if Chuck was the real deal. Over the next year I got to know Chuck better by visiting the bank and his staff and speaking to more than 300 people a community luncheon in
Not Your Ordinary Bank
The bank just began in March of 2003. First year projections were $16 million in deposits but actual deposits in the first year came in at $52 million. Their original projection was to be at $50 million in five years. After 21 months deposits are now at $80 million. Chuck says, "One of the things the Lord told me was, 'Chuck, if you will be obedient to My Word, you will not have to worry about the bottom line.'"
Probably more important than the success of the bank is what has taken place spiritually. In the first 21 months Chuck has seen 80 personal decisions for Christ made inside the bank and almost the same number in physical healings. A video clip was developed by a
This bank was designed to be a Kingdom bank. The founders of the bank wanted not only to run a bank with ethics, integrity and professionalism, but they also wanted it to be a place of ministry. They are succeeding so much that even secular and liberal media outlets are taking note.
The New York Times Magazine Gets it Right
It was early fall and I was in my office. The phone rang and it was a writer from
Not only did this self-proclaimed secular writer call Chuck, he flew to
"There are certainly no signs of Ripka's faith becoming diluted, however. When I first visited the bank, I discovered that besides the chance to spread the Word via this magazine, there was one other thing Ripka wanted from me in exchange for his participation in the article: My soul. He had invited two other marketplace pastors-a dentist and the owner of a dental laboratory-to join us in his office. Shortly after we sat down, they began to pray.
They prayed for me, for my family, for this article, for the Lord to guide my pen, for The New York Times, for the media in general, for secular society. Then they pulled out a vial and began anointing me with oil-a practice from early Judaism and Christianity that some Christians today have revived-and prayed for me all over again. As a result, I can report that having people pray over you feels just fine, like getting praise and a shoulder massage and an offer of help all in one. And as a small personal reflection on the central issue of this article, I'm also prepared to impart how it feels to have a banker, a dentist and a businessman pray for your immortal soul in a bank. It feels weird" (New York Times, Cot. 31 edition, pg. 69).
Now, what you won't read in the New York Times magazine is the impact Chuck and his staff made on the writer. The impact has been so significant that it would be improper for me to comment here due to his position with the New York Times magazine. He and Chuck have become good friends. Two weeks later the photographers came to take pictures and Chuck also prayed with them. Chuck attributes the fairness and accuracy of the resulting article to praying beforehand with the writer.
Open the Media Floodgates
On October 31, 2004 the feature story appeared, just four days before the re-election of President Bush. These two events triggered a landslide of media attention to the subject of faith in the workplace and the role of faith and morality in the re-election of George W. Bush. Right after the story broke Chuck received inquires for interviews from a broadcast company in
But what does this all mean? Is this an isolated event?
An International Movement Designed for Nation Transformation
The faith at work movement is not just a
Charisma magazine featured a recent story on Graham Power, a successful businessman in
Graham was awakened one day at 4 a.m. in July 2000. He said God gave him a vision in three stages. First, he was instructed to rent the 45,000-seat Newlands rugby stadium in
On March 21, 2001, the first step came to pass. A capacity crowd gathered in Newlands stadium for prayer and repentance. Soon after that a notorious gangster in the city was saved.
News of the first gathering spread quickly, and in 2002 eight cities in
Power said he received another vision in February 2002, in which he saw the prayer event in 2003 spreading as far as the widest point in Africa, covering sub-Saharan
According to Charisma, an estimated 15 million to 30 million Africans from all 53 countries in Africa and five islands gathered for united prayer in hundreds of stadiums throughout the continent" (Charisma magazine, May 2004 edition). It all started with the vision of a businessman.
The International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) is another marketplace group making a big difference in nations. In 2003 the ICCC, as they are known in 95 countries now, co-hosted a business expo with the nation of
The government of
ICCC has also been involved in a project for the last seven years in
The program has aired many times to a potential household audience of 250 million. The government leaders have documented more than 40,000 businesses being started as a result of the program. It is now the only government approved market economy course in the university system. Now, the graduates of the course and owners of the businesses are asking, "Where do these wonderful sayings come from?" The government wants ICCC to start ICCC chapters, but the organization does not yet feel the timing is right for such a move.
The New Reformation?
In the past issue of Business Reform you have read about what American businessmen are doing to change
Dr. Peter Wagner has said that the workplace movement has the potential to be as significant as the Protestant Reformation because it reaches those in society who have the power to make changes in society. When people in government, entertainment, education, military, and business begin to operate from a Christian worldview, we begin to see changes in laws and decisions that rule our nation. Church leaders have the ability to impact those who serve in these arenas.
Wouldn't it be great to be the generation that becomes the catalyst for real transformation of our society? Why not begin your own paradigm shift in how you see your work life calling with a vision toward workplace, city, and nation transformation?
Os Hillman is president of the International Coalition of Workplace Ministries and Marketplace Leaders, an organization designed to equip Christians for workplace transformation. He has authored nine books and writes a free daily email devotional entitled TGIF TodayGodIsFirst.com. His website is www.marketplaceleaders.org and www.icwm.net. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.