11 Tribes: Integrating Faith and Work in Slovenia
Trisha Wynn | January 2018
Wait!? I thought there were 12 tribes! Don’t panic. You have indeed read your Bible correctly all these years. God did bring all 12 of the tribes of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness to set up life in the Promised Land to be His prized possession. While the Levites got the most attention and the specific job description of taking care of the tabernacle and the sacrificial system, the other 11 tribes were no less important.
We can use the analogy today, that the Levite tribe is akin to the small percentage of full-time Christian workers, while the 11 tribes are the majority of the population who work in the marketplace. Unfortunately, when you are part of one of the other 11 tribes, it is easy to believe the lie that your contributions “in the Land” are not important to God’s work.
The Lie: Only One Tribe Can Do God’s Work
The Josiah Venture team in Slovenia, called Društvo Več, has been doing English camps with teenagers for over 15 years. The Lord has answered your prayers and we have seen many young people turn from the darkness and walk with Jesus in the light. The funny thing about teenagers though, is that they grow up. They “age out” of youth group, go to university, and eventually step into the workplace. As these new believers are wrestling with the question of what to do with their lives, some have come to the conclusion that full-time ministry is the only real way to serve God --that the work of a project manager, a teacher, a computer programmer, or a doctor is just not the same as the work of the one tribe.
We pray fervently that God would raise up thousands of young people to be a part of the One Tribe. That they would be fully equipped and supported to give their lives to full-time ministry, serving their countries and making disciples in their churches. But we are also praying for the tens of thousands that will spend the next 40 years of their lives in the 11 tribes. The truth is that all 12 tribes are called to do God’s work.
In order to empower the next generation of believers, Društvo Več started a training program this year called 11 Tribes, specifically for Christians in the workplace. This intense program seeks to reshape the participant’s worldview around what God says about work. Students study in depth God’s original purpose with work, how the fall has affected work, how the gospel brings redemption to work, and what work will be like in the new creation.
“11 Tribes got me thinking about work and the gospel in another way. Instead of how to bring people to Jesus, we talked about bringing Jesus to people, our co-workers, clients, people we spend a lot of time with. I think it is a view we often forget to mention, yet working a job is a lifestyle most Christians live,” says Robi, a computer programer.
The Truth: All 12 Tribes Are Called to Do God’s Work
Attending two weekend retreats, meeting for two full Saturdays, and meeting weekly for three months, the young professionals in the 11 Tribes program are learning how to integrate their faith with their work. Most are between 23 and 30 years old and all of them are eager to put into practice what they are learning. The 12 people who have gone through the program this year represent a wide variety of professionals: from teachers and doctors, to make up artists, to small business owners. They are all receiving theological training and spiritual and personal development within a community of peers from diverse backgrounds and vocations.
After going through the program, Maja, a photographer and makeup artist, now sees her career as an important ministry. “I absolutely loved 11 Tribes. It was intense, hard, but so eye-opening. As a makeup artist I’ve been wondering for a long time, what does the Bible actually say about beauty, and this program gave me answers to that and so many more questions. I now work for God. What is important to me now is that every woman who walks out of my make-up chair realizes that she’s absolutely beautiful without any make-up. I’m there only to enhance the beauty God gave her.”
Maruša, a special education teacher, shares her experience in the program saying,
“The program helped me realize Godly work is not about success and accomplishments, but about the purpose of my work, and for whom am I working for. I see now that the main goal of my work is to worship God and bless people with whom I am working...God gave me the passion and love for people with special needs and I want to show them and their families the love that God has for them. I am just an instrument of His love to these people and my work enables me to be the light of God in their lives.”
It is vital for the young people in Slovenia, and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe, to understand, as Maja and Maruša now do, that they play a significant part in the kingdom of God and 11 Tribes is helping make that happen. As the 11 Tribes director, Hondo Wynn, puts it, “It has been exciting to see these young professionals get a vision for what God can do in their workplace, to have their worldviews expanded, so that they see that God is active in all areas of society, not just in the church. It is powerful to see young Slovenes take up the mantle of missionary to the marketplace.”
Pray with us that the 11 tribes in Slovenia would understand that their work in the marketplace is equally as important as the work of their brothers and sisters who are in the One Tribe. Pray that all 12 of the tribes would have God-honoring excellence no matter what their office space looks like.