Missions at Home Feature
I Might as Well Witness
I f you’re at all familiar with ASI, no doubt you’ve heard ASI’s motto: Sharing Christ in the Marketplace. Dene Sue Ross, founder and CEO of Write Way, Inc., is a living example of that motto.
Write Way is a contract technical writing firm based in Boise, Idaho that has been in operation since 1985. As owner and CEO, Dene Sue places contract technical writers, editors, training specialists, curriculum developers and online communication specialists on Write Way contracts. For the past 13 years she managed Write Way’s contracts with the State of Idaho, where she currently has 16 contractors onsite with the Department of Health and Welfare at its downtown Boise office.
Every morning at 5 a.m. Dene Sue’s workplace witnessing begins when she arrives at the office, sits down at her desk and opens her Bible—right there in the Department of Health and Welfare building.
“When I became a Seventh-day Adventist I committed not just my income tithe, but a tithe of my time to the Lord,” Dene Sue explains. “I came to the Lord late in life and felt that I was far behind in devotions and Bible study, so I decided to commit two and a half hours a day to personal devotions.”
It was that decision that launched her workplace ministry. “Co-workers would come in and see my light on at 5:30 in the morning and an open Bible on my desk,” Dene Sue says. That simple act has drawn a lot of curious people to her office and opened up wonderful opportunities for witnessing.
One story from Dene Sue’s workplace witnessing began twelve years ago. “A young Christian man in my workplace discovered that I was an Adventist,” Dene Sue says. “He would come into my office with Bible trivia cards and say, ‘I bet you don’t know the answer to this one.’” But to his surprise, nine times out of 10 she could answer correctly, often because she had just studied that part of Scripture.
“He was shocked!” Dene Sue beams. “We would get into discussions on Adventist beliefs. Every morning he would come with more questions. It eventually grew into an ‘official’ Bible trivia game with several people in my office regularly participating. I kept my office loaded with lots of Bible study materials. I would ask people, ‘What are you doing for lunch?’ and invite them to my office and hold a Bible study with them.”
Sometimes a simple question, such as “How was your weekend?” would lead to opportunities for Dene Sue to offer counsel and comfort, in addition to sharing her faith. One time a young woman responded, “We just got back from Florida. My husband’s cousin committed suicide.” Dene Sue was able to minister to that woman’s needs with biblical counsel and also to share some literature with her.
“When I first became an Adventist I thought passing out literature would be a waste of time,” Dene Sue admits. But she doesn’t see it that way anymore. “When someone in my office comes to me with a comment such as, ‘My husband’s mother says that if he doesn’t stop doing this or that he’ll burn in hell forever,’ it’s a perfect opportunity to pray for them. Generally, people are very receptive.” At times like these Dene Sue finds that people are frequently willing to accept the literature she offers.
Not having been a Christian for much of her life, Dene Sue knows and understands the mindset of the people around her. “I work with people from all different age groups and backgrounds—Muslims, Jews, Catholics, crystal-worshippers, homosexuals—you name it. There is a lot of resistance to Christianity in my marketplace. But if you hold up Jesus, people’s hearts soften.”
Health ministry is also an important part of Dene Sue’s workplace outreach. Although, she admits, a rather embarrassing personal experience led to it. Eight years ago, after losing her father to cancer and with a terminally ill mother, Dene Sue and her husband were working in Boise full time, relocating two businesses, and building a new home as the result of an ASI-motivated church plant in Garden Valley, Idaho.
Totally stressed, in less than a year’s time Dene Sue gained, as she describes it, a “humiliating” amount of weight. “I was eating compulsively, stressed and out of control. In a frenzy of activities, I had veered away from a vegetarian diet. Completely helpless, I turned to God and prayed, ‘If you bless my efforts and give me the strength, I will follow Your plan for health.’”
The very next morning Dene Sue committed to a vegetarian lifestyle and began a serious walking program—3 or 4 miles a day. She began to see results. And soon total strangers began stopping Dene Sue during her walks to ask, “What are you doing?” She told them she had surrendered her life to Christ and then pointed them to the Bible as a source of information on health. She has also given out more than 100 Ellen White books. “It has been a remarkable opportunity to witness,” she says.
Once people saw firsthand what Dene Sue’s lifestyle changes had done for her health, the next step was to show them how they could make beneficial changes in their own lives. That led to cooking schools and tasty samples in the workplace. “I would put out an email to my workmates, saying something like, ‘Today, I brought falafel. Want to try it? Come to my office at 1:00.’ And they would come,” Dene Sue explains
Perhaps you’re thinking that Dene Sue’s witnessing opportunities just aren’t available to the average Christian, or that she has talents or training that most people don’t possess. But listen to what she says: “I’m not really good at this. It’s nothing that I do; it’s the Holy Spirit. It’s not necessarily my job to bring in the harvest. I’m just out broadcasting seed. My church is 80 miles away. [I figured] since I’m down here in Boise, I might as well witness.”