A couple of weeks ago, I told you the story about my friend who bought a warehouse containing tons of dinosaur dung. Then he came up with an idea to break the dung into small one-pound chunks, wrap them in tissue paper, insert them into elegant boxes and sell them as paperweights for employees to give to their employers. Using an infomercial, he sold out in just a few days, making hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking the waste products of the world and repurposing them. (I think there might be a biblical principle here.)
God has given my friend the ability to make money. I could tell you story after story of the things he has done. He wrote two bestsellers; I don’t remember the exact titles, but the first one was about what every man needs to know about every woman, and the second one was about the humor of President Gerald Ford. When you opened these books, they were blank. Not a single word on a single page. Then you got the joke, laughed and ordered 10 copies for your friends. Once again, he sold hundreds of thousands of these gag books.
My friend invited my wife and me to come and spend three days at his private retreat; he had a couple of question to discuss. The first was why what happens on Sunday doesn’t make a difference on Monday. I asked him why he asked that question. He saw himself not as a businessman but as influencer for the Kingdom. He has thousands of employees in his company, and he shares his faith with them and does a Bible study for those who want to attend. He helps anyone who comes to Christ get connected with a local church. But he wasn’t seeing much growth in those he had plugged into church, and that prompted his question. Our deep discussion that day concerned whether today’s church focuses on raising up disciples who make disciples.
But my friend’s second question intrigued me more than the first. He asked, “Walker, why doesn’t my church honor my ministry?” Again, I asked him to explain a little further. He told me if you asked anyone in his church if he were a good Christian, they would say a strong yes, adding that he was a tither who gave of His resources to the local church and also taught a Sunday school class. “But Walker, my church only values me for what I do inside their four walls; my church doesn’t connect with me to what I do on the outside,” he said.
You remember the dinosaur dung and the gag books? Do you want to know what my friend did with a portion of that money? He has a burden for missionaries. Most of them live on meager means and work many hours a day, seven days a week. He believed they needed rest, and so he began to give them just that. He rented an entire first-class hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and brought in missionaries and their families. He gave them a week of vacation with no agenda. He bought them the expensive robes that hung in the bathroom; he gave the wives gift certificates to buy jewelry; and once during the week, he had a world-class chef come to each room and prepare a special meal. He provided counselors for any of the missionaries who wanted to reflect on their lives and loaded them up with books and materials to take back home, all at his own expense. This particular group totaled around 300, and the last time I spoke to him, he had done this in nine countries. God has gifted him with the ability to making money so he can have the joy of helping others. He counts it all joy, and you will never know his name.
I walked away from my time with him realizing that we as a church forgot that church started in the marketplace. The first disciples who were filled with the Holy Spirit went to the market, a place that intersected with the world, and proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not born in a home, hospital or church but in a stable used to rent stalls.
For many years, we have called the plan of salvation the “Roman Road.” Do you know what the Roman Road was? It was a road of commerce. Jesus did not call one religious leader to be a part of the 12 but instead chose businessmen.
The early church was born in and grew out of the marketplace. What happens on Sunday should made a difference on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Who knew that dinosaur dung would change the world? My friend did.