My Story – Ciaran Fletcher
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15
There have been 2 threads running through my life: my walk with God, and a love of Computers and technology.
I studied Computer Science in UCD, graduating in 1984 and going on to do a Master’s Degree. My wife is from Belgium and we have two boys who are both in University. We joined the Community of Nazareth in 2007.
My work has been mainly as a Software Engineer/Architect. It mainly consists of writing or designing software for companies that help their business processes – mostly not very memorable. There are a few exceptions; I designed the Card Management System for the Oyster Card in London, and built a Grass Management system for Teagasc, among other things. I currently work for an Irish company that writes software for Insurance companies worldwide.
That verse from 1 Peter at the top has been a significant verse in my life. While I was in University I started going to a prayer group near UCD. Some of the people were Christian missionaries and I would also meet them on campus. I not only heard in teaching at the prayer group that it is the job of every Christian to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, but I was seeing it in action, walking alongside them, seeing them sharing their faith. I realised that I could do it but I needed training.
I ended up going to Germany for a 5 month evangelisation school with the International Catholic Program of Evangelisation. You spent 4 months learning about your faith and giving God an opportunity to work in your life, and 1 month on mission; I went to Poland. It made a very deep impact on my life and I ended up staying for 5 years.
I saw God’s faithfulness in providing for me. I also had the luxury of having time to pray scheduled into my day. I met my wife, Els in ICPE and we married 21 years ago and came to live in Dublin.
What does it mean to be a Christian in my working life?
One of the principles I have lived with for a good while is that if Christianity is to make a difference in my life, then it needs to make a difference in my working life. That is where most people spend a lot of their lives. But what exactly does that mean?
To me, it means first getting prayer, Church and support in place. I can’t live as a Christian on my own, I need others walking the same road with me. That is one of the reasons I joined the Community of Nazareth. I meet some Christian friends every Thursday for lunch in the business park where we work. Sometimes the topics are sport, family etc but also get into our Christian faith. I run a Men’s bible study because I need a way to interact with the Bible and I’m lazy enough to need a structured approach to doing it.
I think the verses from Matthew 5:13-14 express some of what I’m trying to get to:
13 “You are the salt of the earth. 14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
Salt flavours and seasons without being noticed; it preserves. Light pushes back darkness; it shows up the truth of what is there; it gives a beacon for someone to find their way to the light.
For me it is about integrity, keeping my promise, being faithful, responding with respect to managers who don’t treat you with respect, about how you have lunch and what you talk about. It’s about caring for the people around you and praying when they have a hard time and grieving with them when they hurt. Without you your work would be missing something, even if people can’t put their finger on what it is.
I won’t work for a company that is dishonest, or for example for a company that write gambling software. It’s also about what you won’t stand for.
It’s not about shoving your Christianity down people’s throats, but being open about who you are and give them an opportunity to ask if they want to. I don’t hide that I run a men’s bible study, it’s a normal part of my life. It’s about shining a light, but not about waving a torch into people’s eyes. Sensitivity counts. It’s about being real and authentic.
Occasionally I get asked about my faith, sometime at Christmas parties when people have had too much to drink. It brings me back to the first piece of scripture, about being ready to share why I believe and live as I do. It’s enough to let me know that my behaviour and my faith are noticed, even if I don’t think they are.
What do you think? What does it mean to you to live as a Christian in your work? How is different from the person beside you who is not a Christian? Could you put into words the reason why you have faith in Jesus if someone asks you?