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Using Skills to Transform Lives and Make Disciples

Creative and compelling: here’s how global workers in Encompass’ Transformation Works Network meet needs and make disciples among the least reached.

Jason Weimer’s day starts early as he prepares to open his Bangkok, Thailand coffee shop to customers at 6:30 a.m. Soon it’s bustling with expats on their way into work, teachers headed to the international school nearby, and neighbors from the surrounding community.

Just your normal neighborhood coffee shop? Yes…and no.

It’s also an example of the Transformation Works Network in action.

Jason sees his work as a whole­life discipleship opportunity. He can share his faith openly with his employees. And the shop itself is an environment that naturally brings people together.

“Here, it’s so foreign to invite people to church,” Jason says. “It needs to happen in a safe place. And people need a comfortable environment to ask questions.”

And they do.

“I’ve gotten weird, out­of­the­blue questions,” he relates. “Once an older gentleman asked me why the Israelites sacrificed animals in the Old Testament. Another time, a regular customer asked me, ‘Are you a Christian?’ We’d never discussed religion, but obviously, she noticed something different.”

These questions open the door for Jason to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-­16) in his corner of Bangkok.

Not only is he a business owner and consultant (he operates a graphic design and consulting business), but Jason also leads the Encompass’ Transformation Works Network. The people who make up this network are focused on addressing tangible needs through business, education, medical, and justice efforts for physical and spiritual transformation.

Simply put, they’re using their God­given gifts and skills in creative ways to meet needs and make disciples.

Whatever the work might be or whatever creative strategy it entails, Jason and the network are committed to a holistic approach through what he calls “the four bottom lines”:

  •  Spiritual: Advance the gospel.
  •  Social: Be active in and relevant to a community.
  •  Environmental: Care for God’s creation and steward it well.
  •  Financial: Ensure the work is financially sustainable.

Authentic relationships

In addition to the bottom lines, the network has identified three principles to guide what they do. The first is developing authentic relationships. “What this looks like is everyday life fitting into the life rhythms of the community where you’re at,” Jason explains. “Sometimes that means starting and opening a business, directing a nonprofit, getting a job, being involved in community development, or simply taking your skills and deciding to move to a place where the gospel isn’t as prevalent and doing whatever you’re doing for the glory of God.”

Transparent intentions

The second guiding principle goes hand in hand with developing authentic relationships: having transparent intentions. This is reflected in the way network members get to know people in the communities where they serve.

“We never want to ‘trick’ someone into becoming our friend or contact so we can target them for the gospel,” Jason says. “I want to be someone’s friend because we get along. I want to hire someone because they have the skills and development to fit the job.”

Transparency is also vital to Encompass workers’ business approach, from keeping accurate financial records to following the laws and regulations of the country in which they’re working.

Jason explains, “We don’t want to operate under false pretenses. It can eventually destroy relationships and can get people kicked out of a country.”

Lives that point to Jesus

The network’s third guiding principle, living compelling lives, is at the heart of their pursuit of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-­20) and unifies the principles of authentic relationships and transparent intentions.

“Being an American and moving overseas is a compelling story in and of itself,” Jason shares. “Many people are surprised we would do this kind of thing—leaving the comfort or ease of life in the U.S. to live and work in another country. It opens up opportunities to answer their questions and share why we do what we do.”

Each of these conversations is part of the network’s disciple­making work—because “Jesus is the underlying reason for a compelling life.”

How is God using your skills and gifts today to meet practical needs and make disciples?