Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Story 10 (the final chapter)

How time moves!
I realised that I have been working for 30 years since my first job in 1983.
I was introduced to the world of work in my third year of university which was the year of industry attachment. The Lord enabled me to work in two different companies for 6 months each. It was an interesting learning experience to work in companies with different management style and culture.

The first company was a British company dealing with computers. The division I was attached to was the research and development arm of the company. Hence I had the opportunity to work on projects related to state-of-the-art computer technology back then. I learned that following Christ in the workplace meant that I will do my best at work and being a listening ear to colleagues whom the Lord bring me in contact with.

The second company for the second half of my year in industry was a Japanese manufacturing giant. This particular division was manufacturing television sets, refrigerators and other home appliances. What an interesting exposure I had to a totally different management style and culture! Morning exercise was mandatory back then! Dress code was company shirt (dark grey) with the unwritten but widely followed rule that junior executives cannot leave work before their bosses leave. It was good that I was not an employee and hence I could leave at the end of the day without waiting for my supervisor to leave! I learned that even though the company had a regimented (almost military) style of management, the Lord could open opportunities to witness. I managed to start a short Bible study during the lunch hour with a few operators with the help of a sister-in-Christ who used to be with Jehovah Witness. She said she left the cult because one day she realised that Jesus is God because the Bible said "Jesus is the Shepherd" and in Psalm 23, the Lord is the Shepherd and hence Jesus must be the Lord. How wonderful is the Holy Spirit to illuminate her with understanding and bringing her to Himself. It was during this six months too that I had an opportunity to rent a room from a house church. The pastor and his wife even gave me opportunities to lead worship and share the Word during some of their meetings.

My first job after graduation was a miracle orchestrated by God. When I returned from England after my studies, I applied for a dozen jobs but none replied. Then I tried this company - an American multi-national dealing with wafer fabrication and testing. They replied within the week and asked me to come down for an interview. They offered me a job on the spot and I joined them as an Equipment Engineer in September 1983. It was training on the job as my degree was in telecommunications and the work I was doing in the company was software maintenance and assembly level programming. What a challenge it was to learn as I worked! In terms of workplace ministry, the Lord opened up an opportunity to start a office group in which we even had a bi-monthly newsletter. We had many opportunities to sow the gospel and I believed some of the seed sown have borne fruit though I was only in the company for 3.5 years. Flexibility and innovation were key values of this first company I worked in. When I conducted a training class for some technical staff because of some software changes that I did, the Lord used that to kindle the desire in my heart to consider training and education as my next step in my career.

I applied to a local polytechnic in the west and after two interviews, I joined the institution in 1987 to start my career in polytechnic education. This is a milestone in my working life as I have been teaching in post-secondary education since then (more than 26 years!) Learning to teach and teaching to learn - this is the life of an educator. Over the years I have taught many different subject areas ranging from hardware-related to software programming. I spent 7 years in this polytechnic in the west of the island before joining my current institution in the east. In those seven years, I worked under 2 principals. The second principal was a man of character and integrity. He was one who lived out his Christian faith openly (he literally wear his faith on his shirt collar with a miniature cross pinned to it everyday). Under his leadership, I had the opportunity to see various para-church organisations reached out to staff and students with the gospel in various events such as having Andre Kole, a professional illusionist, presenting the gospel through magic. (It is interesting that many years before my own pastor began his magic/illusion ministry, I had an opportunity to have a front row seat to this kind of ministry!)
I continued to share my faith at every opportunity that God gave. A few years ago, I met an ex-student in church and he asked whether I remembered him. I vaguely remembered that I taught him before. He said he remembered the day I shared with the class my testimony. Praise the Lord for the seed sown!

In 1994, the opportunity came for me to move to the east in terms of workplace. I had been travelling every day for about a hour from my home in the east to work in the west. Now, I have been working in my current place of work, which is my third employer, for almost 20 years. When I came in, we were among the early pioneering batch of staff and most things (including the current location) were not in place. It was challenging but enjoyable to be part of that work in doing things from scratch. Being a small number, relationships were closer and I managed to use the early years of email to encourage the first group of believers among the staff. Most of them have left over the years. Even my years are numbered as I approach retirement age. But God has been working and I believe His Word will go forth to accomplish His purposes in my workplace (Lord, revival and more salvation!).

Dear reader, always remember that we are called to serve wherever we are and when we work, we work for the glory of our Lord and to do His will. May you experience His leading in everything you do even at your work place. Arise and shine for His glory is upon you!