Just before Christmas this past year, one of our long-term employees took her 14 yr. old son to the doctor to have a knee injury checked out. What they thought was simply swelling turned out to be a mother’s nightmare – a rare form of bone cancer. Obviously, this is a life-changing event. It poses the question: What ministry responsibilities does a Christian company have in responding to this kind of situation?
Ministry Through Business
Now, I will be the first to tell you that we are not the perfect Christian business. Not even close. There are so many ways we fall short of where we want to be. I am sure we miss ministry opportunities every day.
On the other hand, we give it a lot of effort and I am proud of what God has accomplished in our company over the past eight years. In fact, this blog is an attempt to share some of what He has done to change this company’s focus. So, when a situation comes along that exemplifies this kind of ministry, I feel compelled to share.
First and foremost, we wanted to make sure that this mother had full freedom to be with her son at every possible moment through the medical maze of full diagnosis, planning, and treatment. Though she is in a critical role within our company’s accounting department, we gave her the freedom to effectively set her own schedule.
She worked when she could (occupying her mind) and she was with him whenever she needed to be. In this case, we took Andy Stanley’s advice and did for one what we wish we could do for everyone. While our employee handbook does not exactly deal with this situation, we made sure we gave her every freedom we could. We cannot allow everyone this freedom all the time, but we can bend the rules when we have to.
Next, we had several employees step up in various ways from providing gas for her multiple trips to Atlanta (60+ miles each way) to chipping in with her work responsibilities and even helping her set up an account at the local bank for donations toward medical expenses. Everyone did their best to show their support through encouragement and prayers. She has never been in doubt that we were supporting her and her family.
One of the sales departments had the idea of hosting a car show, with the profits going to help out with medical expenses. This idea gained support and that department really put hours of effort into pulling it off. The event drew 60 cars, raised close to $1,500 for their medical expenses, and even served as the capstone to her son’s birthday party!
Finally, and likely most importantly, our company chaplain has been able to give her and her family the spiritual support they need. In addition to his normal support through weekly visits, he has been able to provide focused support for her and her family throughout the process so far.
Yesterday, the chaplain was able to sit with the family as the son went into surgery to remove the tumor from his leg. He was able to pray with them before and after the surgery and to wait with them until the doctor came back with the results. In fact, he was there to hear the doctor report that the surgery went better than expected! It appears that all of the cancer has been removed and that the leg is going to look great and operate normally!
This situation is not completely over for this family. We will need to maintain the support and continue to look for ministry opportunities. Our prayer is that our actions will help to get them through to the other side of this situation with their family intact. We also hope that their faith is strengthened as a result. The main goal is that God gets the credit for all that is done.
As far as can tell, there is not a book that specifically addresses how a Christian company is supposed to respond to an employee crisis like this one. I believe we are simply to seek to honor God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Regardless of the crisis, this behavior will have eternal impact!
How has your company responded to similar situations?
Do your employees have the opportunity to engage?
What more could you do next time?