Christian Store Associates Share Answers
Most associates in Christian
stores, particularly those who work directly with customers, are more concerned
with the eternal results of their work than their paychecks.
These stories have been
collected from associates working in CBA International-member retail stores.
The stories illustrate how associates view their work and the impact they have
on people who need a listening ear, a thoughtful prayer, or a boost of
The stories are true, but
customers’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.
A Bible for a Friend
One morning Cheryl came
in the store visibly upset and said to store associate Debbie: “I need a
Bible for a friend who has cancer. She’s not supposed to live long, and I want
to give her the Bible before she passes away.”
After listening and
helping Cheryl select a Bible, Debbie said: “Let me pray with you quickly, that
you'll arrive in time and that your visit and the Bible will minister to the
family. God is in this, and He will do something mighty. You don't have to
worry.” Tears filled Cheryl’s eyes as Debbie finished praying.
A week later, Cheryl
returned and told Debbie: “When I got to the hospital, my friend was still
alive. The Bible really ministered to her and the family. I shared how you
prayed with me and said that God would answer the prayer and that I’d get there
in time. Your prayer really helped me, too. Thank you.”
“This experience reminded me
that what I do is a ministry, not just a job,” Debbie says. “I’m blessed to be
able to pray with people and share Jesus openly. I knew when I prayed with
Cheryl that God would meet her needs. He is faithful; He hears every prayer.”
Debbie is an associate at Family Christian
Stores #389 in Lincoln, NE.
“Last Christmas I was working for Sears,
doing commission sales,” recalls store associate Darryl. “A customer named Gloria,
who’d purchased many products, was caring for an elderly woman in a wheelchair. She
needed help, so I took time off the sales floor to carry her products out to
her car while she pushed the wheelchair.”
12 months later, Gloria entered the Christian store where Darryl now works.
“Don't I know you?” he asked. “I think I know you from Sears.”
she replied. “You were the nice young man who helped me when I bought all that
stuff and was helping my friend. I appreciated that.”
had forgotten about that,” Darryl says. “It’s a reminder that something I do
today—something I feel God wants me to do—can obviously impact the future and
build customer rapport. Everything [associates] do matters. People notice
whether or not we go the extra mile. If we don't, that creates an impression
that we don’t really care.
not easy to go the extra mile for customers, especially during busy holidays.
But we need to keep doing our best all the time.”
Darryl is an associate at Christian Gift Center in Moscow, ID.
“Last June, a customer named Amanda came into the store looking for a Bible,”
says store associate Sandi. “She asked my opinion about several Bibles, then
said she was a new Christian, and began asking questions about different
“I’m a bit confused,” Amanda admitted. “I recently married a guy from a
different denomination and don't know what to believe. The new church is quite
different from the church I’m used to, and people are pressuring me to do certain
During the next half-hour, Sandi shared her testimony, which included what God had
taught her about relating to Christians from other denominations. “I also
emphasized her need to study the Bible, pray, and ask God for wisdom,” Sandi
says, “and how He sometimes sends people to us who can help. He doesn’t want us
to be confused.”
months later, Amanda told Sandi: “Thank you again for talking with me. That
really helped. I’m slowly getting things together.”
important to listen to people and be honest with them about our struggles and
what God is doing in our lives instead of putting on a front,” Sandi says.
“People need to know He is concerned about their needs and understands their
—Sandi is an associate at Grace Book Store Inc. in
It’s Amazing What God Does
Last summer, John entered LifeWay Christian Resources and ordered books by an
author who was going to be speaking locally. “He shared that his son was giving
him lots of trouble,” says store associate Doris. “I showed him a youth
edition of a book by that very same author that I believed would help his son.
He bought it and the adult version for them to study together."
sure these books will help us,” John said. “Thanks for bringing them to my
God greatly used the father-son interaction that resulted. “John’s son had
never come to the store with him,” Doris says. “Now they come in together. I
see their camaraderie, and John’s son is knowledgeable about God and his
Christian walk. I pray God will put books in my hand or thoughts in my mind
that will help customers. He put John in front of me, so I could help him and
his son, and I feel blessed. It’s amazing what God does. Sometimes when I’m
talking with one person, God uses that conversation to reach someone behind me
whom I don’t even know is there.”
- Doris is an
associate at LifeWay Christian Resources in Tyler, TX.
A Pleasant Reminder
“A woman in her early 30s came into the store needing information
and homeschool books,” says store associate Susan. “When she came to the
register, we began talking about our children, and she opened up her heart to me. She's
had numerous operations, including several brain surgeries. One procedure
didn’t go right, so she has permanent damage. But she said she’s making it OK
and that the Lord is taking care of her and her family.”
many store associates, Susan is used to helping customers, but to her surprise
she discovered that the woman helped her! “Hearing her story lifted me up. I
was feeling down, but then I realized I had so much to be thankful for. God
worked through her to help me. Despite all that she has faced, she’s upbeat and
doesn’t wallow in self-pity.
speaks through people we meet. He knows our hearts and what’s going on that no
one else knows. I want to be more like that woman—more upbeat, open, friendly,
caring. Meeting her has made me want to work harder at connecting with
customers. I want to share my love for the Lord just as she shares her love for
and dependence on Him.”
—Susan is a former associate at Bible Book Store in Jackson, TN.
Use Me, God
“Last year, on a particularly frustrating day, a young store associate made
a flippant comment about not wanting to live because everything was going
wrong,” says store associate Arvella. “A woman standing by the counter
[overheard this and] burst into tears. As it turns out, the woman’s son had
committed suicide several months earlier.”
Arvella spent the next 45 minutes with the woman, listening to her and praying
with her. “I shared that I'd been through a similar experience,” she says, “and
that God is in control. My husband committed suicide years ago, leaving me with
five young children under age 8. I was able to answer questions about grieving
and pain. Then she thanked me and left, much calmer.
she’s doing much better. She and her husband attended a support group I told
them about, and they still come into the store to get hugs, to talk, and to
day my husband was buried,” Arvella recalls, “I prayed, ‘OK, God, please use
me.’ And He has brought many grieving people to me all these years. Being used
by Him gives me joy. I keep asking Him to let me help people, through His
—Arvella is an associate at Maranatha Book Store in Akron, OH.
“In addition to serving customers, I work in the back in the freight
department quite often,” says store associate Amber. “Last November, two salesmen
came into the store to discuss credit-card machines. Bill, who was in training,
ended up sitting near me outside the office for a long time.”
Amber unpacked freight, Bill began asking her questions, including some about
God. “It was cool,” she says. “Even though I was a bit afraid, I was able to
present the Gospel for the first time. I told him how God had changed my life
and my heart and that He really loves us. Bill had never heard the Gospel
before and seemed to soak up what I said. He wanted to know how God was
affecting my life and was working through me.” After his associate came out of
the office, Bill didn’t say much to Amber and then left the store.
loved the feeling of being able to share Jesus,” Amber says. “I was so happy I
couldn’t stop smiling. God knows when it’s the right time. He kind of knocks on
our hearts and says; ‘Hey, wake up. This is your opportunity. Take it.’ My
nervousness went away, and God helped me find the words to say.”
—Amber is an associate at The Dove Book & Bible in Puyallup, WA.
“Last summer, a woman named Terry
entered the store, saw our prayer box, and asked for prayer,” says store
associate Barbara. “Her daughter, Sonya, had gone to a friend’s wedding in
another country, didn’t know the language there, and had become quite ill.
Since her friend was off on her honeymoon, Sonya had telephoned from the
prayed with Terry, asking God to send someone to sit with Sonya and assess her
medical needs. Feeling better, the concerned mother said before leaving:
“Thanks for praying with me. I feel God’s presence here.”
next morning, Terry telephoned, amazed that God had exactly answered Barbara’s
prayer. Another wedding guest had heard about Sonya’s illness and gone to help.
As it turns out, Sonya would have died from a rare illness if the other person
hadn’t arranged for immediate medical attention. Happily, Sonya was able to
return home several weeks later.
asked for prayer,” Barbara says. “It’s important to be obedient to God when you
know He’s pulling at your heart. You never know how that obedience will impact
another person. This didn’t happen by chance. It was a divine appointment by
God’s design. He is awesome and loves us.”
—Barbara is an associate at Kingdom Treasures Christian Bookstore in O’Fallon,
For months, store associate Jane
had prayed with Wendy, whose son couldn’t get along with his new stepfather and
was having problems in school.
September,” Jane says, “Wendy tearfully said that their home situation had
worsened, and she was allowing her son to live with his father in another state
even though the boy would have little supervision. In turn, I shared that God
always has a plan, that even when things seem to be going wrong we can trust
Him to work things out, and that maybe her son needed to learn some hard
more prayer with Jane and a co-worker, Wendy said: “I’m letting God be the boss
now. He has the best in mind for our family.”
fall, Wendy kept bringing bad news about her son, and Jane kept praying with
her. The boy, missing parental boundaries and realizing how much people loved
him, then decided to return home.
a privilege to pray with suffering people and see how God works things out,”
Jane says. “Wendy’s son is doing better in school, and things at home have
greatly improved. When things look bleak, God works in special ways to bring
victory. He has such blessings in store for us.”
—Jane is an associate at Inter-Mountain Christian Bookstore in Grand
Soon after meeting store associate Antoinette last December, Cynthia anxiously
blurted out her problem. “When I pray in a group of people, I don’t know how to
pray. I want to pray fervently like more experienced intercessors, but I feel
stupid because I don’t pray as eloquently as they do. So I don’t feel that God
is hearing or answering my prayers.”
shared with her Bible-based, practical truths about prayer that God was
teaching me,” Antoinette says. “Prayer isn’t about using big words. God knew
Cynthia’s heart even before she began to pray, and He would teach her how to
pray. She just needed to pray from her heart.”
encouraged and relieved, Cynthia bought several books on prayer. A week later,
she returned and said to Antoinette: “Thanks. What you said to me and those
books you recommended helped me a lot.”
guided Cynthia here to find what she needed,” Antoinette says. “I’m thankful I
could share with her. God constantly brings people to me who are facing
situations I’ve gone through. If I can further the kingdom in any way, that’s
what I’m called to do. All of us [store associates] are called to be servants.
People are seeking solutions and hope. God knows who to send to whom and who
needs to hear what.”
- Antoinette is an associate at Serendipity Bible House
in Fairfield, CA.
A Little Help Makes an Eternal Impact
February, Roger and his girlfriend entered The Solid Rock in Kearney, NE, and
started looking at Bibles.
“I asked if I could help,” says
store associate Harry, “and Roger explained that he needed to replace a
worn-out Bible but couldn’t decide which translation to buy. I helped him
narrow down his choices and suggested he buy an inexpensive booklet of the
Gospel of John to see what he thought of one option. He thanked me, bought the
booklet, and they left.”
two weeks later, Roger came in the store, walked up to Harry, and blurted out,
“I wanted to share with you that I was
reading John 12:46 and gave my heart to the Lord.” He chatted with Harry for
several minutes, then left.
April, a pastor asked Harry, “Are you the one who talked to Roger?” Then he
added that Roger has been attending his church regularly.
never know when or where someone is studying us [store associates],” Harry
says. “No matter what we do—at work, stopping for fast food—we’re involved in
ministry if we put Jesus first. God…uses whatever we say and do to further His
kingdom. Roger’s conversion reminded me that working here is a ministry, not
just my job.”
—Harry is an associate at The Solid Rock
in Kearney, NE.
“God Used My Heartache”
Annie, an associate in Cox Christian Books in Wilmington, NC, is no stranger to
suffering—in her life and in others’ lives. So she immediately identified with
a couple from Virginia who entered the store last June.
husband’s father died from cancer suddenly,” the woman said, after Annie
greeted them. ‘We just arrived for the funeral and need organ or piano music
for the service.”
father died in 1973,” Annie shares, “and about two years ago I purchased a CD
that comforted me during a trial with my health. I played those songs, and the
arrangements, for them. I also bought a card for them that had a special,
encouraging poem about what being safely home in heaven is like.”
the funeral, the couple returned. “They thanked me so much for helping them
with the music and for the encouraging card, which the son read during the
service,” Annie says. “They even sent me a thank-you letter from Virginia.
“God brought them into the store
and used my heartache to let me know some of their feelings and what would
comfort them,” Annie continues. “He put me here for a purpose, to do His will
and help others.”
—Annie is an associate in Cox Christian Books
in Wilmington, NC.
The Impact of a Prayer
For longtime store associate Bill, nothing can compare to working in
Christian retail. “Being an associate…has to be one of the most rewarding,
inspiring, and challenging professions in this world,” he said recently in one
of his frequent letters. “Never a day goes by that I’m not blessed with a
customer’s reaction, a sale, or an answered challenge. It just keeps getting
better and better.”
an expert Bible champion with a heart for service, had an experience recently
that reinforced his love for working on the front line. “Two ladies came into
the Bible department,” he begins. “One was looking for Bibles for family
members, and [I helped her] find the Bibles that best suited their needs.”
Before the purchaser walked out of the store, however, Bill stopped her and
offered to pray (as he always does) both for her and for those who’d ultimately
receive the Bibles.
we finished praying,” Bill says, “the other woman came over to her and said,
‘That’s why I wanted you to come here for your Bibles!’ You can’t imagine what
a pickup that was for me. What a stamp of encouragement for our work and our
customer who’d brought her friend in to shop at Bill's store lived closer to a
different Christian store but had been so touched by his prior prayer for her
own son’s new Bible that she simply had to share the experience.
—Bill is an associate at Valley Book & Bible Stores in Van Nuys, CA.
God Uses a Friendship
“We have a coffeehouse in our store,” says store associate Tina, “and
in 1998, Paul started coming in for coffee about twice a month. At first, he
chatted about coffee and steered away from any topics related to God. But as we
built a relationship with him, he became more comfortable with us. We had many
conversations about what he believed—and why. He came in only for coffee, never
for any Christian products.”
In December 2000, Paul came in and said: “I want you to
know that, as a result of our conversations, I have accepted the Lord. You
accepted me for who I was and where I was. I thought people who took the Bible
literally were critical and judgmental, but you listened, discussed issues, and
were open with me. You didn’t just tell me I was wrong and going to hell.”
“It’s in our day-to-day living that we can have an effect
on people,” Tina says. “Not everybody is ready to hear that Christ died for
them. Many people have heard that and done nothing with it. They need to start
thinking about how Christ fits into their lives day by day. Much of what I do
here is talk with people about everyday life.”
—Tina was an associate at Higher Ground
in Bolingbrook, IL.
“A young woman I’d never seen, Pam, entered the store last September,” says
store associate Bonnie, “and asked if I had books on depression. As I showed
her some titles, she burst out crying.”
husband left me and our two kids three weeks ago,” Pam said. “I don’t know
where to turn.”
about 30 minutes, she and Bonnie talked, cried, and prayed. As it turned out,
Pam was a Christian. “We went to church all the time,” she told Bonnie. “We
came back from church one Sunday night, and he left the next morning.”
came into the store that entire time,” Bonnie says, “which was amazing since it
was busy the rest of the day. I shared things that have happened to me and how
I couldn’t have made it without the Lord all these years. I told Pam that she
isn’t alone; God is with her. Then I gave her a book. Before she left, she
hugged me, promised to talk with her pastor, and said, ‘Thank you for being
here.’ I still pray for her.
is in control; He brought Pam in here,” Bonnie adds. “God uses [store
associates] to help people. He gives each of us gifts to use for Him. He isn’t
just interested in our ability; He’s interested in our availability.”
—Bonnie is an associate at Shepherd’s Gate Bible Bookstore in Thomasville, AL.