Standing Firm against the Secular Tide: Part 4 of 5

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Meet Tyler S. This picture is not of him - I won’t be posting one, as he is heading into a life of service on a dangerous field, and having his identity associated with “missions” could easily result in his being denied a visa (or worse). Which means you shall just have to imagine him: a dynamic, 23-year-old guy with impressive skills, an enthusiasm for the outdoors, cooking, and working on any puzzle life throws at him, and an undying passion for bringing the Gospel to those who have never heard it.

An engineer by trade, Tyler is passionate about using his skills as an inroad to working among Muslims. By all rights he could be highly successful in the secular world that values fame, money, and the kind of zest for life that is so attractive to unbelievers yet so rare in our culture. But Tyler is aiming for a different kind of success: that which lasts. 

Q: How are you planning on using your skills in a missions context?

The vision that God has given me over the last few years is to use my professional skills as a platform to go places, and build relationships with locals in the kind of way that "traditional" missionaries can't for one reason or another. One factor missionaries face when going somewhere is applying for a visa. In many countries a missionary can't just go as a non-profit worker or as a religious minister; you must have or work for a profitable business. With an engineering practice I will be able to get into almost any country in the world. 

After spending time with some beloved friends who are actively serving on the mission field, my friend shared with me how envious (in a good way) he was that I was getting a professional degree. Initially I wondered why he would say that – being a seminary graduate and someone who was hired by a mission agency specifically to do ministry – why would he want a professional degree? 

He explained that working as a professional within a community of lost people is such a fantastic way to build relationships and show people Christ through the way I live. 

As a professional I will have the opportunity to show people Christ every day through the way I live and what I talk about. I don't want my ministry to stop at work, but hope to invite my coworkers' families into my home to share good meals and the great news of the work of Christ.  

Q: Have you always seen yourself in missions someday? 
The knowledge that God is calling me to missions goes back years ago to when I was fifteen. At the time I had no idea what that would mean or what it might look like in the future, but over time God has grown the feeling of being called to "go" into a deep ambition to take the Gospel to the unreached. For several years I believed that I didn't really have the character or the skill set of a missionary. I had read a lot of missionary biographies and in my foolishness I believed that I just didn't have what it took. What I thought was humility was really a lack of faith, and a lack of understanding that it is God who does the work and God who provides everything that’s needed. 

The only quality a missionary really needs is deep and abiding dependence on God.
Q: What is it like to be a purpose-driven Christian in the secular-culture-soaked atmosphere of engineering school?

I have had a few opportunities to speak about God’s faithfulness in my life. A simple concept that helped with that was not shying away from speaking with an unbeliever about God's faithfulness in the same way that I would with a Christian brother.

A unique opportunity I had last semester was to spend time with international students (mostly from the Middle East) that were in an intensive English program at my school. At the recommendation of a friend, I spoke to the directors of the program and asked if there were any ways I could be involved in what they do. To my surprise, I was welcomed with open arms to join the students in weekly sports activities and was asked to speak in front of a class about the engineering program at my school. Talk about access! 

Following some of those activities I was immediately invited to some of their apartments and was asked dozens of questions about language, culture, religion, myself and my family. They asked about the meanings of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which opened the door to share with them what Christ has done for us and why those holidays have special meanings for Christians.

Something the Lord taught me through all that is this: Though we take our witness with us everywhere we go, we should pursue opportunities to share and show the gospel in depth with those close to wherever God has planted us.
A quote that has impacted the way I think of and pursue ministry is this: "Lost people must become your family." (Nik Ripken, Insanity of Obedience) If we want to reach the lost, we must live with them and commune with them regularly. God certainly uses ways like street evangelism, but making disciples is what we were called to do, and that always happens in the context of relationships. 

In applying that principle, a friend and I are currently pursuing ways to mobilize ourselves and our church to reach out to international students who attend a college campus located right in the heart of where many of us live and work. A concern that might be raised is, "If each us work where we are planted, who is going to reach the lost in areas where there are no believers?" In answering that I would encourage you to ask whether God is calling you to plant your life in a new context. A new context might be a geographic move, or it might mean engaging those who already live in your city.

Standing firm against the secular tide: Part 3 of 5

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Beecher P is dynamic, skilled, driven, and totally committed to following Christ. He has an undeniable flair for creativity, a solid grasp of God’s call on his life, and a rare strength of character – which makes him the perfect candidate for this series.
To truly stand strong against the tide of popular culture – not as a milk-toast Christian who looks and talks like everyone else, but as an actual world-changing witness of a radically different life – isn’t an easy road. Especially when you’re completely immersed in the culture, and working in the arts scene where Christian values aren’t exactly the norm.

That’s where Beecher excels. I recently had the privilege of interviewing him – here are his words of wisdom.

Q: How do you stay strong in your faith and principles, when you’re immersed in secular culture?

A: I’ve found that for me it comes down to how much I value something and the priority I put on it. 

And realizing that Jesus doesn't accept or love me for what I do or how often I read my Bible, but he accepts me and loves me because of his unconditional love, mercy, and grace. For example, I used to let it get me down if I missed reading my Bible one day because I was so focused and concerned about my Christian performance and how I was doing compared to others. 

I've slowly come to realize that being so honed in on performance can turn Christianity into a habit or methodology rather than a relationship.
That said, it is super important to me to stay in the Word (especially when life gets hectic) even if that means opening up the Bible app on my phone at night to read a Psalm and say a prayer. When I'm out of town and working, I make sure to get some alone time with the Lord because if I want to be a light to others, how am I going to be successful if I haven't been to the light source?
And I make sure that I'm not trying to be someone I'm not - just being myself and not catering to other people's pressure or expectations is a big deal.

Q: What does “not looking like the world” mean to you personally?

A: Not looking like the world to me means more about what we value and stand for than how we dress or act. Obviously our standards should align with the Bible, but Christians are all over the map on dress or language or what they listen to or watch. 

What's really important is that we recognize truth and moral standards in the Bible, how God calls us to behave or act, and that we follow them.

Q: The arts/fashion scene is not exactly Christian – how are you able to be a light in the darkness?

A: I'm able to be a light in the darkness because of point #2 above - I know what I believe, I have a moral code I follow, and it makes me different. The arts can be a brutal workplace - people are treated like cattle, cutthroat, a dog-eat-dog industry. But as a Christian it's high on my list to love others, and that's something that stands out in a place where every person is out for their own good.

It's easy to be self-centered, but when we're others-centered we'll stand out. That goes for any area of life, not just the arts.

I've heard it said that St. Francis' quote "Preach the Gospel, and when necessary use words" is wrong. That you have to speak the Gospel; you can't preach the Gospel simply through your life. I disagree. There's a fine mix of both. Being in the arts arena (and often being able to work with a great team), we've had many, many people comment about how great it is to work with us, how we treat people and each other, and the list goes on. 

Occasionally there's an opportunity to share the why behind our work ethic - that would be the love that Jesus demonstrated for us, which in turn makes us want to love others. 

If you live differently, people will take notice. 

And that can open unimaginable doors for sharing Jesus' love with others.  

Head on over to Beecher’s website at, where he sells an awesome collection of creatively hand-painted clothing... And be sure to sign up for his updates – his store is expanding and you don’t want to miss the latest!

Design by Studio Mommy (© Copyright 2015)