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Thanks to COVID-19, I Got Invited to Lunch

in Asia, Blog, Current events
A Crossworld worker finds a new ministry in a post-coronavirus world.

I had just finished lunch in my company cafeteria with my coworkers — together, but at separate tables, following coronavirus-imposed policy. My city is beginning to lift lockdown restrictions, allowing me and my coworkers to go back to work … as long as we follow certain protocol.

Even though I’ve worked with most of these men for seven years, I’ve never been invited to eat with them. I moved to Asia as a marketplace disciple-maker, expecting to build relationships with my coworkers. Despite my best efforts, that hasn’t happened. Most of my relationships have formed with neighbors and students, until now.

I don’t know if my coworkers have been eating lunch together every day for the past seven years without my knowledge, or what led them to invite me along now. Maybe it’s the fewer number of people in our office these days. Or the hardships of quarantine we’ve all endured together. Or the fact that my family stayed here when we could have returned to the U.S.

The third time I joined them at lunch, we walked out of the cafeteria together and they all turned right — the opposite direction from our office. When you live cross-culturally, you get used to following a crowd when you don’t understand what’s going on. So I turned right with the group.

About 20 minutes into what I expected to be a 10-minute walk, I asked a coworker why we were walking. I learned that our city started a campaign to encourage everyone to walk 10,000 steps each day. (This explained why everyone was checking their phones every few minutes — to watch their step-counting apps.)

In case you didn’t know, it takes a group of men about an hour to walk 10,000 steps, at least at the pace we were going. And my normally busy coworkers are doing this every day.

I don’t love taking an hour-long break in the middle of my workday. Neither do I always know how to lead conversations into spiritual territory. But I couldn’t have engineered this opportunity to build relationships with my coworkers. And I trust the God who defies my expectations and provided this opening where I was struggling. So I’m choosing to walk in obedience. At least for 10,000 steps a day.

Crossworld worker Philip and his family live and make disciples in Asia.

The people in this story are real, but their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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