RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Walt Tucker is an MIT grad who is as comfortable starting house churches as he is building lasers to protect aircraft from heat-seeking missiles.
Tucker, 52, spends much of his time sharing Christ and making disciples in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, known as “the Triangle.”
But he hasn’t quit his day job; his engineering career is his entree to a sizeable population of South Asian immigrants and expats who have come to work or study among the Triangle’s cluster of universities and high-tech firms.
Tucker moved to the Raleigh-Durham area in 2013 with his wife Katie, but not because of a job. Though he could have taken his engineering career anywhere, a mission trip to India in 2009 made it clear God was calling the couple to reach South Asians.
There are neighborhoods in the Triangle where as many as 80 percent of residents are South Asian, Tucker notes. The high population density, combined with the “technical camaraderie” he’d share with South Asians working in similar fields, made the Triangle a strategic place to live, work and play — on mission. Katie, in her work and witness, is a clinical director at a chiropractic neurology center.
For Tucker, there’s no divide between work life and spiritual life. He views the Great Commission in Matthew 28 as an all-encompassing command to make disciples through every aspect of a believer’s experience.
“I make my faith pretty obvious,” he says. “You preach the Gospel by how you live as well as by what you say.
“What you don’t do is direct evangelism during work time,” Tucker cautions. Instead, he looks for the in-between opportunities: coffee breaks, around the water cooler, at lunch. Business trips are another prime opportunity.
“When you travel you get one-on-one with somebody and you have a lot of time, so you really can get into some good discussions,” he says. “I just try to use the time wisely and not be in anybody’s face. You know when someone is not interested so you go slower with them.”
Sometimes, spiritual conversations come when Tucker least expects them. Working late one night at a previous job in Florida, he remembers kneeling with a laser technician on the floor of their lab as the man prayed to receive Christ.
Excellence at work can be a witness unto itself, Tucker notes. For Christ-followers, he believes a job well done is an act of worship. “People wonder why you’re doing such a good job, and you tell them it’s because I’m doing it for the Lord,” he says.
“Also, when you do your work, you do it with excellence because now people know you’re a Christian; it’s like having a fish bumper sticker on the back of your car and driving like a maniac — it’s just not a good witness.”
When Tucker is off the clock, he spends most of his evenings discipling South Asian believers to become disciple-makers themselves.
“We’re trying to train them up to reach their neighbors and co-workers,” he says. “It’s not just about converting them, it’s about teaching them to make disciples.”
So far, the Tuckers have started several small Bible study groups in the Triangle with a vision of them growing house churches. But they know it won’t be easy — or quick.
“Of the South Asians we know who have come to Christ, it’s taken them a period of two to three years of seeing legitimate Christians who really live out their faith before they’ve made a decision,” Tucker says. “We’re in it for the long haul.”