Taking seriously Jesus’ call to impact our community
A few years ago at the Australian Christian Heritage National Forum held in the Great Hall at Parliament House in Canberra I heard an encouraging story of faith. Keynote speaker Stuart Piggin talked of the impact of one man living the values of Jesus in his workplace and its effects on the company – and it happened here in Tasmania.
It is the story an underground mine where a dramatic increase in safety was the result of the work of one man who applied the personal and relational values of Jesus to his workplace.
Bob Mellows, a Christian mine manager, at the Cornwall coal mine in the Fingal Valley, saw that safety was best regulated not by the law of the land, but by the law of Love. He spoke to his men about how different the workplace would be if they treated each other in a way consistent with the teachings of Jesus.
He made a study of the practical meaning of the word love in the New Testament and shared his findings with the miners. In a report to the ’98 Coal Operator’s Conference, he said, ‘It is not because of legalism that Jesus Christ told us to love God and love one another. It was because he knew it was essential to our well being in all aspects of life’. He went on to say that ‘The Foundation of Safety is loving one another (and ourselves). This is not merely an emotional condition. It is a choice of behaviour and the only basis for a satisfactory relationship.’
The Cornwall Mine’s safety improved when a breakthrough in relationships occurred. This resulted from the removal of barriers, the development of trust, and concern for the welfare of the other. The result? A dramatic turn around.
Between 1980 and 1990 there had been about 200 accidents reported each year at the Cornwall coal mine and the company paid between $50,000 and $250,000 per annum in compensation. But then during 1991/92 Bob Mellows’ biblical values were embraced and the accident rate dipped dramatically. By 1993 it dropped to practically zero and it has remained there since. Not surprisingly the cost of compensation also fell to almost zero.
Here we see a clear picture of how the values of Jesus work in the real world and a result when one person takes Jesus seriously and becomes salt and light in the community.
I wonder what would happen if all of us, inspired by the example of Bob Mellows, attempted something similar in our lives wherever we are – at work, home or school?
Stephen L Baxter