Interview with Eden Chen
Resource Global is in perfect position to lead a movement of business leaders who successfully live out their faith in Jesus at the workplace in major metropolises, said board member Eden Chen recently.
“There are some great programs out there that are training young Christians to see the importance of work and how that applies to their faith,” Chen said. “But I think Resource Global is unique in that it has this international mission of reaching people in these massive cities outside of the U.S., like Nairobi, Jakarta, and Shanghai.”
Chen, who was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list earlier this year, is the co-founder of Fishermen Labs based in Los Angeles. His company specializes in app and website development, virtual reality and augmented reality for brands and startups. The company’s clients include Sony, United Nations, HTC, Qualcomm, Quintiles, NFL and NBC. Chen also founded Knife and Fox, a design studio for brands and startups.
When asked about the reason he joined Resource Global, Chen said, “I originally first joined Resource Global because of my friendship with Tommy Lee (founder) which is probably consistent with a lot of people. I really love Tommy’s heart and the way that he values friendship and people so much, and loves the Lord.
“Secondly, I felt that, at least in my industry and different industries that I’ve been in that there’s always been a lack of Christians that have been interacting in the secular working world,” he explained. “I just don’t interact with that many Christians in this space.”
Chen said he believes that Christians, in general, have “exited the conversation” when it comes to engaging about their faith.
“In my parent’s generation there were lots and lots of Christian business leaders and I think either business caused them to be more lukewarm or maybe the next generation lost their faith,” he said. “There’s something to be said about money and the poisonous effect of it. There is also something to be said about Christians sort of trying to get away from popular society and trying to move to the suburbs and get away from where lots of commerce exists. I think that’s led to a sort of loss of interaction with the business world.
“I love organizations like Resource Global because they are trying to get people back into that ecosystem.”
Chen, 30, wanted to be a youth pastor when he was in college, but through an internship became interested in business and finance. “I did some business financing and found that there were (seemingly) no Christians. There were two Christians out of 150 people in my internship class, “ he said. “That’s when I realized that this is like a complete unreached people group that no one will ever get into and these people are going to make a huge impact and nobody is going to tell them about Jesus.
He said that as sort of a backlash to a generation of Christians that may have talked more overtly about their faith, but perhaps less in the way of biblical action, his generation is “one that is afraid to speak up about their faith, so a lot of times, people don’t even know they are Christian because they are too afraid to even bring it up.”
“What I try to do is to set-up like sort of ‘landmines’,” said Chen, referring to placing mental triggers that spark conversation in people that he meets through his work.
“Fishermen Labs, for example. A lot of people ask, ‘Why do you guys call yourselves Fishermen Labs?’ That’s an automatic opportunity to talk about our faith,” he explained. “I can answer that my business partner and I met at church. We feel like fishermen … the early church was the most influential group ever to exist and they were just a bunch of fishermen who didn’t have a lot of skills. If you just look historically, these 12 people were the most impactful people.”
Such a conversation is very powerful and influential, he said.
He added, “If you don’t have the landmines, I think no one is ever going to bring up the fact that you’re a Christian. It’s not like in the normal course of business, when I’m working on an app, [that] someone is going to ask, ‘Are you a Christian?’ I mean these little blocks that give me the opportunity to talk about faith.
“Ultimately, most Christians and most people on this earth spend most of their waking hours working, whether it’s a job that you like or don’t like, whether you are working 40 hours a week or 80 hours a week, it’s still a large majority of our waking hours. So, we have to have a theology of work because that’s where we are interacting with people.
“So, having a strong basis of justifying why we do what we do and what we are doing is hugely important. If we teach the right things and have the right mentorship that could cause massive change to happen.”
Resource Global has the chance to connect global cities, bring good training and good mentorship to these global cities and spark movements that get business leaders and aspiring business leaders to help and mentor other, he said.
“We’re increasingly living in a globalized, non-Western, post-Christian time,” Chen said. “So you do have these massive revivals that are going on in Africa and China, and yet, it’s very clear that there are theological deficiencies. Christians are trying to get more theological training into Africa and China. What’s not thought about as much are these accountability deficiencies outside the U.S. and the lack of theological training around work, and how work relates to someone’s faith.
“The movement in the U.S., talking about work and faith has only been in the last five years. At least, growing up, I didn’t feel like that was really talked about or that much. We’re just talking about it now.”
Interview by Alex Murashko