No Chance Encounters

April 16, 2017 No Comments »
No Chance Encounters

By Jamie Shafer

On any given day, Jealeania Morris might find herself working at her desk or watching the sun set in farm country as she travels on the back roads of rural America. While her career background includes experience in both corporate settings and vocational ministry, she recognizes that no matter the workplace, her journey has always been about following God’s call to invest in the lives of the people she encounters.

Jealeania helps to lead and facilitate training for employees in electric cooperatives. Functioning as not-for-profit organizations, electric cooperatives are owned and managed by the people in the community who use the services. Many of these cooperatives were originally established to help provide electricity to those living in rural areas.

On Mission

Cooperatives abide by seven governing principles, with one of their values being focused on education and training for employees and members. Employee training sessions led by Jealeania center on professional development topics like team building, handling conflict, and improving office skills. When asked what she loves about her role, she said, “It’s training, but I get to really pour into people. Not from just an educational standpoint, but we really do invest in the individual. That is my mission.”

She said that her hope is always that people walk away remembering a special encounter, where they received personal value even beyond the training material.

“It’s one thing to meet someone, but it is another thing for people to encounter you,” Jealeania added. “My goal is to share in an encounter with the people I’m training and investing in and also to teach them how they can multiply it with the people they work with and with the community.

“We talk about internal and external customers. We all know about external customers, but we need to be healthy to the customers internally—how we look and see the people sitting next to us.”

One Person at a Time

Jealeania sees the employees she trains as people God has created and prays he will guide her in her interactions with groups. “I don’t look at it as professional development. I look at it as I am investing in God’s people. He paid a price for these people.”

In her previous role in vocational ministry, she served in outreach, which meant interacting daily with people who were downtrodden, challenged, or completely forgotten. Although she now serves in a setting with people coming from a variety of backgrounds, she sees some parallels in working with employees in less populated areas. “Most people are not catering to those in rural America,” Jealeania noted. Her mission remains the same—to help those whom others perhaps have forgotten. Throughout her years of experience in ministry and in the marketplace, she says she has learned to see God’s people as they are, apart from race and class.

“I got to see the fullness of Christ in community from the church perspective and now from the marketplace perspective. God continues to open my eyes and stretch me as he changes the venue.”

While it is workplace training, Jealeania finds that the employees are often impacted in a deeper way as they talk about navigating relationships. Some recognize that they need to seek help for an issue in their personal lives. One tearful person said she realized she needed to apologize for her behavior toward someone else.

Jealeania also believes in practicing what she preaches and strives to apply the things she discusses in training to her everyday life. “When I go to the store, I am trying to give people a snippet of an encounter. People have an encounter with Christ and their life changes. I view every interaction as an opportunity to give people an encounter with Christ in me. From that, one man plants, another one waters, and God gives the increase.

“This is how you multiply it for everyone who stands in front of you. You teach this to your kids—to look at each person as God’s creation. We can get boxed in doing vocational ministry, thinking it just happens there, but God’s taking it to the marketplace. My mission started in the church, but it grew in the marketplace.”

Jeremiah 29:11 and Luke 4:18, 19 have been guiding forces along with Jealeania’s personal life statement, which is displayed on her desk: “Empower and equip people to transform their lives and the lives of others through authentic relational encounters.”

Jealeania concluded, “The heart of what we do here is true to who God designed me to be.”

Jamie Shafer is a communications strategist for Fishhook Communications in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.

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