As part of REVIVE Sunday 2020, we asked some keyworkers within the Co-Mission network to share their story - to hear about the challenges and encouragements they’ve faced, as they seek to live distinctively for Christ on the frontline and opportunities they’ve had to share the gospel with those around them.
FRANCIS ACHEAMPONG’S STORY
(Francis attends New Life Church Catford)
My name is Francis. I am a biomedical scientist currently working in microbiology for the NHS. I look for evidence of an infection caused by microorganisms or ‘bugs’ (like MRSA, candida and streptococcus). Culturing these samples in various environments enables us to identify what microorganisms grow. We can then inform clinicians of our findings. This aids them in the management of the patient, whether in the community or in the hospital.
I think the main challenge for me as a Christian at work is being bold about my beliefs. In a profession where there are people of different backgrounds and beliefs, it can be hard to express one’s faith. I even think that overcoming the stereotypes of being a black male is a challenge. For example, many have expected me to be aggressive, harsh and so on. However, I know that the Bible teaches us to do away with these attitudes, so it has been very interesting – when working in a busy and pressurised environment – to hear comments such as, ‘Oh wow, you are so calm’ or, ‘How do you just get on with things?’ I have learnt that I must do the best I can at work, so that God can be glorified.
I really am astounded by the nation’s response to the pandemic. I recall one lunchtime going out and seeing a motorbike with the words ‘Jesus loves you’ on the back. I thought that was amazing! I think the Clap for our Carers on a Thursday has given encouragement to many key workers as well as myself. A sermon at my local church on the destruction of Jerusalem taught me that things such as pandemics are to be expected (Luke 21:11) and this has helped me to keep going. Knowing that God is in control has reminded me that, even though God provides us with resources such as the NHS, ultimately I should depend on Him and He will care for me (Isaiah 31:1). As with other key workers, I feel that my role allows me to show care and serve those who are sick (Acts 4:34–35).
My church family checking in on me has been a great encouragement. Having one-to-one and Zoom conversations can also often lift the mood after a hard day’s work; it’s almost like fresh fuel to weary bones.
Sharing my faith with others is something I find difficult, due to the nature of the questions that are asked. Conversations I have with my colleague regarding my faith normally start off with, ‘Ooh, I don’t think there is a God’ or, ‘Religion causes too much trouble.’ However, I talk to them about how my love for Jesus makes me do the things I do because of what he did for us. What comes out of these conversations are comments like, ‘This is why you are so calm.’ Little do they know that it’s not always the case but I remind myself that I should be gentle and patient (Colossians 3:8–9). One of my colleagues commended me for this and I felt really happy that in some way my outward behaviour has potentially caused someone to think about the Christian faith. I know my role is just to plant the seed and let God do the rest. So I let my outward behaviour and Scripture do the talking!
To hear more stories from frontline keyworkers, watch the roundtable filmed discussion here. This story was collected with others as part of REVIVE Sunday – visit co-mission.org/revive for other content for this event.