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The gahtering of the Graduates Bible Groups in Spain challenged Christians professionals to share the beauty of the Christian faith with their coworkers - with excellence, respect and responsibility.
Being disciples against the tide in a hostile world, keeping personal identity and being aware that God is in control, were some of the challenges that the around 260 Spanish Christian professionals heard at the National Meeting of Graduates Bible Groups (GBG), held from December 5 to 8, in Cullera (Valencia).
Under the title “Disciples 24/7”, participants were challenged to share the beauty of the faith with their coworkers, seeking excellence, with an attitude of respect and responsibility. The workplace can then become a place of worship to God.
Lawyers and social workers, managers and economists, nurses and doctors, psychologists and teachers, scientists, artists and communicators, among other professionals, came together to have a conversation about technology and consumption, feminism and masculinity, citizenship and migration, singleness and parenthood.
The gahtering, which is organised under the umbrella of GBU (IFES) inspired participants to be a light in a changing environment, avoidiong the risk of stress and burnout.
DISCIPLES AGAINST THE TIDE
Through three Bible expositions about the Old Testament book of Daniel, Martin Haizmann, a worker of SMD (IFES in Germany) for twenty years, talked about how to go through the trials in society or in our workplace.
Although the powerful like King Nebuchadnezzar, govern and foster the sense of human impotence, the world's powers are under the judgment, sovereignty and control of God, who changes relativism into divine purpose. He is the Lord of history and the world, Haizmann preached.
The avant-garde culture of Babylon was an exceptional experience for Daniel, who accepted a political career as a servant of an absolutist ruler three times. Daniel and his friends, the German speaker said, did not lose their identity when their names were changed. On the contrary, they were faithful to God and his principles, despite being in the middle of a dictatorship.
Which name expresses who we really are? Daniel lived between adaptation and rejection. When he saw his relationship with God compromised, he decided that his highest loyalty was for the King, who gave him extraordinary wisdom to overcome temptations and continue trusting in the God who directs the world even though He may seem invisible.
Nebuchadnezzar only used religion to be in power and turned the relative into tolerance, without distinguishing between good and evil, nor tolerating those who believed in values, just as it happens today.
Haizmann pointed out that, as Christian in the workplace today, we should know that God is always there in the middst of the “burning furnace”, even if we do not see His presence.
It is necessary to go against the tide, trusting that, with the Lord, we have the victory from the beginning. God desires to see people who live with integrity and assume high responsibilities, despite the envy of a merciless society.
Daniel did not depend on the temple of Jerusalem for his prayer three times a day, he became a living testimony, as he guided his life in the direction, will and commandments of God's law.
No matter in which situation of power we find ourselves as professionals, Haizmann concluded, when we pray, we place the government of God in its rightful place, above human powers.
SHOWING THE UNKNOWN GOD TO OUR COWORKERS
During an extra seminar, Haizmann underlined that God commands to go and preach the gospel throughout the world. Therefore, it is not not an accident that Christian professionals are in different places. He has a personal purpose for each one of us.
Sometimes, due to our personal limitations, we can be the main obstacle for people in our workplace to see Christ in us.
God put eternity in the heart of men and, being unique in our workplace, we must share the beauty of faith and the relationship with Jesus.
Attitude and gratitude make work a divine purpose of worship to God. We must be part of personal relationships with coworkers, with respect, responsibility, transparency, seeking opportunities for conversation and even practicing hospitality.
BEING DISCIPLES IN A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT
Documentalist and pastor, Luis Marián was one of the plenary speakers, which had a TED talk format. His main point was that new technologies can help us to be alone or to be more accompanied, however, we must use them to enhance personal relationships. While it is true that technology is becoming a key tool for the persecuted church, the information boom requires the study of new strategies.
In the second plenary, GBU staff worker José Daniel Marín spoke about what it means to be a disciple of Christ in the midst of a consumerist society. He said that contentment is the best measure against the disappointment generated by the substitutes we can buy.
A heart renewed by Christ lets the Spirit of Christ manifest itself to break the individualism and consumerism. Marín pointed out that it is obvious from science that the current consumerist system is not sustainable for the planet, and that the church should stop being a sleeping giant in this area.
BIBLICAL MEN AND WOMEN
Lawyer Marité Pérez highlighted some historical considerations about women in history in her plenary on feminism, stressing that in Christ, men and women have the same privileges. Meanwhile, pastor and former GBU Secretary General, Francisco Mira, presented the seven most important masculinity traits, emphasising that the quintessential model is Christ himself. According to Mira, a man should be guided and relaxed, communicative, both maternal and paternal in his approach to children, a refuge, and a lover.
Charo Pablos, a lawyer and a member of the GBU excutive committee, was in charge of the plenary on singleness. She underlined that this state is a gift from God and a greater opportunity to serve Him. One becomes a part of God's lineage by spiritual regeneration and not by procreation.
The plenary about parenthood was led by bussinessman Pepe Brossa and the doctor Ana Aldea. Imperfect parents, they said, generate imperfectly redeemed children. But God's paternity model requires presence, protection, provision and forgiveness.
CITIZENSHIP AND MIGRATION
Jaume Llenas, Coordinator of the Spanish GBG graduates movement, reminded participantes that the duty of the church is to train the saints for the work of the ministry. Christians should never buy the “complete package” of a certain political party. But if God calls us to politics, we must respond affirmatively, because the call to serve on a government sphere often comes from God.
Secretary General of the Spanish Evangelical Alliace, Xesús Manuel Suárez, shared several Old Testament texts that talk about the attitude and good treatment that we should give to migrants, without discrimination and with equal rights.
FORUMS AND DEVOTIONAL TIME
The different professional groups had their own forums, where they could talk more specifically about the theme of being a disciple 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For instance, in the Christian Teachers forum, professor of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Spain Theological Seminary, Ramon Sebastian, emphasised that an educator redeemed by Christ must be close to his pupuls, with a transformed heart, not forgetting what the Bible teaches about the nature of the world and its implications for education.
Each day started with a devotional time, reflecting on the Christian's commitment to: the Word, the Church, and society.