Ross Hoffman was the owner of a small business in our community. He grew up in the church and considered himself a Christian all of his life. He'd answered the first call to become Christ's disciple, but still HE WONDERED IF THERE WAS MORE TO BEING A CHRISTIAN THAN JUST GOING TO CHURCH. Then he received another call—the call to simplicity. He said it was the combination of three things. The first was his decision to read through the Bible in one year, something he’d never done, and he still doesn’t know what motivated him to do it. The second was that he started to hear things in the preacher’s sermons he had never heard before. But the defining moment came when he took a mission trip to Zambia. At first, he noticed the abject poverty that everyone notices, but then he saw something else.
“These people were happy and so devout even though they had nothing,” he said. I wondered how they did it. They had more of God, yet they had less of everything else. Perhaps there was a correlation.” I remember the day he stood in the middle aisle after a service, waving his arms and saying, “There’s a whole new economy, Steve.”
ROSS’S CALL WAS NOT TO CHANGE HIS OCCUPATION, BUT HIS PREOCCUPATION.
“There are things we value on earth that are not valuable in heaven, and there are things that are valuable in heaven that we do not value on earth.”
So Ross implemented a new vision for his company. He established a new set of values, which he posted on the wall by the break room: “Serve others, not yourself! Be 100 percent reliable and on time. Treat others the way you want to be treated.” He created three new positions for people who had just been released from prison. “It’s a lot of work to keep them in line,” he said, “but they need a chance.” He started writing prayers to send to Christian leaders every Monday and set his computer to remind him every morning that it was time to pray for his staff. He gathered fifteen people into his home one night and raised $75,000, then used the money to buy a well-drilling rig in Zambia, which has already provided clean water for 50,000 people.
But Ross never left his business. One afternoon, while Ross and I were fishing in the Colorado River, I asked him why he never pursued a call to full-time ministry. He laughed and said, “Because I already have one.” And he was right.
He was using his business as a front to do what he really wanted to do, and that was to fish for people.
On August 7, 2013, Ross suffered a tragic and untimely death in a construction accident at home. But many remember his legacy. His son Logan, a church-planting missionary in New Zealand, writes: “Many Christians know what it looks like to be spiritual in church, while reading their Bible, or while praying. Dad figured out how to infuse his faith into every area of his life. I watched as God transformed the various spheres of his life: his business, relationships, finances, everything. The church needs more of his brand of faith, lived in the ins and outs of everyday life.”
[Excerpt from Faultlines: challenges that transform your soul by Steve DeNeff. Wesleyan Publishing House, 2014.]