Living on Mission Together in the Workplace...a Salt Company Student Story
The Hy-Vee off highway 370 and 72nd Street looks like a typical grocery store, but for several members of Citylight’s Salt Company, it is a very special place. Shadow Lake Hy-Vee was not only instrumental in their personal walk with Jesus, but also as a missional field for furthering God’s kingdom. Student leaders Dale Ratliff, Mia Treu, and Jared Saggau were all hired around the same time at Hy-Vee and without talking to one another beforehand, they have now come to determine that God brought them together to do His mission in this unlikely missional setting.
In their personal lives, these individuals view their minimum-wage positions as a blessing. Jared describes his job at Hy-Vee “as a miracle, which lead God to introduce me to a whole new community.”
Mia Treu applied at Hy-Vee for something to do during the initial Covid shutdown of 2020.
“At first, my job was simply there for me to have a purpose for getting up in the morning when the world felt like it was collapsing around me. Quickly in turned into something so much more, something much bigger than me and my life,” Mia said.
Hy-Vee became not only a sanctuary from the chaotic outside world, but a place where she was pushed out of her comfort zone to pursue co-workers and customers for Jesus. One of the biggest gifts was the reciprocation she received from the Hy-Vee community.
“I’ve had customers ask me out of nowhere if I know that Jesus loves me and then pray for me right there in the cereal aisle. It’s the strangest place to feel God’s love, but a holy moment nonetheless,” Mia said.
Dale Ratliff recalls the purpose of first applying to Hy-Vee was the proximity to his school, Nebraska Christian College. Unfortunately-not even a week after being hired at Hy-Vee, Nebraska Christian College permanently closed. Dale decided to keep his job and try to make the best of the situation; his plans for eventually working ministry seemingly foiled. But God was not finished with Dale’s story. It was through working at Hy-Vee that God taught Dale a lesson in ministry- no tuition required.
Dale mentioned that “it took a while, but I came to the conclusion that God was saying ‘I don’t want you preparing for ministry, I want you to live it out.’”
Both Dale and Jared reflect fondly on hours-long Gospel conversations they’ve had at Hy-Vee. Between delivering groceries, stocking shelves, and bagging produce, the Salt Company student leaders used this job as an opportunity to share the Gospel with their co-workers.
Mia recalls several occasions the group worked together to invite co-workers into God’s family or start asking spiritual questions.
“Dale lets me know if there’s a girl who seems open to a conversation about their experience with religion or spirituality. I’ve had several amazing conversations with co-workers over coffee that have led to a personal invitation to Salt Company, and hopefully to someone accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”
Jared notes that spending a lot of time working with people on a regular basis builds unique relationships that “going through the crazy days together” only can. Dale agrees that personal relationships are how he would transition in his co-worker’s perspectives from someone they work with to someone who deeply cares about them.
Dale describes his method for reaching out as a methodic process, a combination between critically thinking and listening to the Holy Spirit.
“I think the biggest thing is to figure out where my co-workers are, emotionally, physically, mentally in daily life. It helps me be able to relate better. Most people already know God exists; they just mostly choose not to put their faith in Him. They truly just don’t know how amazing He is,” shared Dale.
For Mia, Hy-Vee is a setting that exemplifies living on mission in a practical sense. Sharing the daily struggles of initiating Gospel conversations and extending that personal invitation to come to Salt Company is something that Mia finds she can do more bravely surrounded by a faith-based community in Dale and Jared.
“At times, being a Christian can feel like this big secret I’m carrying around. Hy-Vee is a place where I feel privileged to share my identity as a beloved daughter of God. I am so blessed to labor daily with my Salt Company community. They hold you accountable to living out Jesus’ last commandment.”
Incorporating faith into daily labor is something that is accomplished more easily with a community but can still be quite the challenging. Jared uses his faith as motivation for how he treats all customers, even the angry ones.
“This job is also humbling. You must humble yourself like Jesus humbled himself on the cross, whether that’s apologizing for something that isn’t your fault or working hard to fix a problem with a customer. You have to treat the customer that’s being rude with a love they don’t deserve, just like Jesus did for all of us.”
Dale affirms that living on mission in a community is the best way to do it.
“It’s really good to feel like I’m not alone,” Dale said.
These three Salt Company leaders know how intimidating it is to share the Gospel with others in a setting that looks nothing like a mission trip or a retreat. They also take the commandment seriously spoken by Jesus in Matthew 28 to “go and make disciples of all nations.” The Holy Spirit is always with God’s people- at school, in your workplace, and in grocery stores. Anyplace can be a missional field if God’s children decide to take the opportunity and make it one. Even in the most unlikely places.