Last week I had the privilege to be in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada), visiting several members of Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in their workplace. Someone asked me during that week, “Where does your joy come from?” I had to enthusiastically reply that it comes from meeting with people at their workplace. I love learning what people do and how faith and work intersects for them. So my days in Hamilton were very enjoyable.
Let me give you an example of why I love this so much:
Bob and Lynn are a brother and sister who run a Hamilton-based residential appraisal business that was started by their father. Residential appraisals are unbiased professional opinions, done to determine the real value of a property, as each property is unique. These appraisals are often done for loan purposes.
I asked Bob and Lynn to share what they love about their work and what is challenging in it. It was quickly apparent that there is a rich opportunity to fulfill an aspect of God’s character in this work, and to be part of the flourishing of customers that they serve.
If you look at the purpose of appraisals described above, they are “unbiased professional opinions.” There is a science to it, but it is ultimately an opinion based on experience and various criteria. Bob very quickly began to tell stories about the high need for integrity in this business – he is serving the home owner but also the mortgage company. The home owner would often like for the number to come in high, while the mortgage company wants it to be very realistic.
Before long, they began talking to me about their customers. This year, starting in January, they saw a surge in appraisals needed for divorces – people had hung in there through the holidays but in January started to call it quits in their marriage after the stress of 2020 covid pandemic. Customers were often crying, and pressuring for a low or high number, depending on their position. Other customers are engaged with needing an appraisal for the settlement of the estate of a parent or loved one. Again, customers who are in pain, often fighting with other family members, pressuring for a high or low number, depending on their position. Others are getting a second or a third mortgage, knee deep in debt and showing signs of drowning in it. Bob and Lynn have strongly recommended against homeowners having an appraisal done (even though they would make money from it) if it looks like the number will not come in at what the homeowner wants in order to refinance.
These ministers in the Marketplace speak words of comfort and reality to people in pain on a daily basis. They are helping people to flourish by presenting the reality of a value of the property. They are able to pray for the customers who are struggling through divorce, death, and debt. God is a God of order, and they help to bring that order to the people they serve. They often walk away from a day of work feeling the weight from the result of sin in the lives of their customers.
I left that office amazed by the opportunities that are present in being the hands and feet of Jesus in fulfilling the work of residential appraisals.
And that is just one business I visited. I could tell you many more stories.
On Sunday, I was able to give a message about why Marketplace Ministers need the church on Sunday. While the church is scattered from Monday-Saturday, we need to carry in our joys and laments from those days when we gather again on Sunday. Bob and Lynn need to carry and share the weight of what they have seen in the Marketplace, in the safe company of fellow believers in Christ, and be fed and equipped again to go out of Monday. If you are so inclined, you can watch that service here:
Very thankful to Immanuel CRC in Hamilton for the opportunity to spend this time with them!
And in this week of Thanksgiving in the USA, we want to express our thankfulness to God who has allowed us to join Him in this work, and to each of you for your care, concern, prayer and support of this ministry! Happy Thanksgiving!