Bibles on Board

When Tom Winston became a Christian, he knew he’d have to quit his job. Oh, he wasn’t doing anything exactly immoral. Winston was a bus driver. But his route included gambling tours to Atlantic City, where his passengers—many of them poor and desperate—gambled away their money. When it came to those gambling runs, Winston said, "I decided I didn’t want to use my gifts to lead people astray." So Winston quit his job and formed his own bus company, called Universal Tours. On these buses, gambling runs are strictly off limits. So are smoking, drinking, and swearing. But passengers will find some very good reading material on their seats: the Bible. Does this "Christianized" approach to business drive customers away? Do they think Winston is trying to "impose his morality" on them? Far from it. Customers appreciate Winston’s business practices—so much so that Winston now grosses half a million dollars in annual revenues. People are eager to support businesses that put principle above profits. Winston isn’t the only businessman who puts his money where his faith is. Robert Ukrop, chief operating officer for the Ukrop supermarket chain in Richmond, refuses to sell alcohol. He also closes his stores on Sunday. That’s somewhat of an inconvenience to customers, of course. Yet when the Richmond Times-Dispatch surveyed local supermarkets last year, Ukrop’s had 36 percent of the market. Its nearest competitor—which does sell alcohol and open on Sundays—had only a 24 percent share. Robert Trumble, a business professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, explains that "people relate to certain values and they go and buy at Ukrop’s because of that." He added, "When I moved down here, there wasn’t one person who didn’t tell me to shop at Ukrop’s." In my book, Loving God, I tell the story of a businessman, Orv Krieger, who bought a motel in Spokane and replaced the bar with a coffee shop. His manager warned that the hotel would go belly up without the liquor sales. Instead, both food sales and room bookings jumped. It seems we can’t open a newspaper today without reading about the latest business scandal. As a result, consumers are eager to support businesses structured along biblical moral standards—even if they’re not as convenient. Most of us are involved in the business world in one way or another. We own a business, hold stock in one, or support businesses as consumers. That means each one of us ought to be thinking through what it means to be a Christian in the business world. Let God challenge you to make your business decisions biblically. Go out of your way to reward people who make what the world would label poor business decisions in favor of honoring Christ. In his book True Heroism, Dick Keyes writes: "Perhaps our best examples of Christ-like heroes will be unsung heroes. Perhaps they will be unglamorous people doing unglamorous jobs." The important question, Keyes writes, is not "will I delight the crowds? But rather, will God delight in me?" Well, God surely delights in Tom Winston, Robert Ukrop, Orv Krieger, and other business men and women of integrity—people who put their money where their faith is.


Chuck Colson


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