Over the Thanksgiving break, I went down the YouTube Rabbit Hole, watching videos about real spies talking about how spy craft is portrayed in the movies. I will save you the trouble; what you see in movies doesn’t much resemble the lifestyle or practices of real secret agents.
Like a lot of folks, I find the whole spy genre of films interesting and entertaining. As a 9-year-old kid (and I think I speak for most guys), I gave serious consideration to the career option of being an international man of intrigue. As I recall, I wanted to be either a spy, a cowboy or an astronaut—but then why not all three? I wondered.
Anyway, as I watched video after video about the ins and outs of dead drops, disguises and high speed car chases, I stumbled onto the story of a real ex-KGB spy, Jack Barsky. His story is right out of a Mission Impossible movie. Watch this:
I love the end of the video, “Before the Cold War could end Jack Barsky faces an impossible decision; how he will live the rest of his life? What is his true identity? Who is he?” Like I said, I love spy stuff, and this has all the trappings of a scene from The Bourne Identity.
I never would have thought about it before, but a spy is not someone who is flashy and flamboyant. Spies are just the opposite. They do everything they can to not draw attention to themselves. Jack Barsky the KGB operative embedded in the USA had a desk job at an insurance agency. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of seeing a single movie where Jake from State Farm got into a high speed car chase.
I had to know more about Barsky. Using my now finely-tuned surveillance skills that I learned on YouTube, I was able to track down a dossier about Barsky. OK, so I went to his speaker’s website and found something Barsky wrote.
I was dead dropped! To my surprise. I read his testimony about how he came to trust Jesus Christ as his savior.
“I hired a new administrative assistant. What impressed me most about this young lady was an incredible peaceful glow on her face and a certainty about all things in life. ‘How is it that you have arrived at such a marvelous inner peace?’ I asked. The answer was eye-opening, but at the same time hard to believe: ‘I take my strength from Jesus,’ she said. ‘How can one take strength from somebody one has never seen?’ I thought to myself.
“The curious scientist in me wanted to find out more, and so I opened the Bible for the very first time. To continue to what I considered a purely academic exploration, I asked my assistant to take me to her church. The service was beautiful, and I was particularly moved by how many times the pastor uttered the word “love” during his sermon. That drew me in—I was so hungry for real love! Interestingly, the pastor had the very same peaceful expression on his face that I had observed in my assistant.”
What a story! A man who was highly trained in deception was captivated by an authentic Christian witness. Now all thoughts about binge-watching YouTube spy videos were forgotten. After hearing Barsky had become a believer, I wanted to know more about him and how he came to know Jesus. I found this video embedded on his website. Take the time to watch this. It’s great. You can learn more about his life as a spy, but more importantly how he came to trust Christ.
Five lessons learned about workplace evangelism
After watching the story of how Barsky came to know the Lord, I did what all bloggers do. I found five takeaway lessons to pass on. Rather than dead dropping them under a rock in a public park, and leaving a chalk mark on a light pole for you to know where you can go find them, I decided to include them below. I think they all illustrate the counsel of the Apostle Peter.
“Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope” (1 Pet. 3:15).
Here’s what Barsky’s workmate did that anyone can do to be a witness at work:
- Pray about your work assignment. You may think you landed that dream job, but God put you where you are. Prayerfully seek the Lord to show what your work assignment means for advancing the Gospel.
- Make your faith in Christ known. If you are going to be a witness at work, people need to know you are a Christian. Barsky’s workmate let him know up front that she was a believer, and it was important to her.
- Be willing to talk about your faith in the context of your work. It’s not enough to just say you are a Christian. You need to live it out every day. If your faith is relevant to your life, you will find ample opportunities to explain the connection between how you act and how you make decisions and Christ’s lordship over you.
- Be a resource to the seeker. Be ready to share a Bible, book or other resource that helps your workmate explore more about the Gospel. Know how to explain the Gospel from the Word.
- Invite fellow workers to church. This seems obvious, but I think this works best in the context of the other four. If you are open about your faith, showing people how the Lord is leading you, why wouldn’t they want to learn more about Christ?
You may not be working in the cubicle next to an international spy (or are you?), but the people you work with share something in common with Jack Barsky. Everyone faces an impossible decision; how will they live the rest of their life? What is their true identity? Who are they?
You don’t have to be flamboyant or call attention to yourself to be a witness. Just be authentically Christian. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, help your colleagues at work find their born again identity.