District Manager, Drilling Company
Categories: Business, Jesus (Parables), Moses
I carefully drove my vehicle down a steep and winding mountain road from the gold mine where I was working in the Andes Mountains of northern Peru to the small town where I was living. Although there weren't very many vehicles on this road, it was populated with Peruvian farmers, or "campesinos," on foot or bicycle and some with cows, pigs, or whatever. As I came around a curve, I noticed what appeared to be a young teenage boy "wiped out" on his bicycle in the road. I slowed and pulled alongside the bike and the boy. I then realized that the boy was unconscious and bleeding a great deal. What should I do?
Unfortunately, while living and working in several foreign countries, I had learned that many times Americans are not very well liked and more so when they represent large American companies. Our corporate policy in the event that something like the above scenario occurred was to keep on going and not to put ourselves in a possibly dangerous situation.
However, that afternoon I chose to remember one particular Bible story. The story was about a certain man who between Jerusalem and Jericho fell among thieves and was stripped and wounded and left half dead. A Levite and a priest who saw him "passed by on the other side." The man received no help until a certain Samaritan found him, "had compassion on him," cleaned his wounds, and "brought him to an inn." The Samaritan also gave money to the inn's host and promised to repay him when he returned if the innkeeper would take care of the man. It is the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 30-37) that caused me to disregard our corporate policy and tend to the boy.
I placed my jacket under the young boy's head to comfort him, cleared a passageway from his mouth to allow breathing, and called for assistance from the two-way radio in my vehicle. Many of the people from the neighboring village were arriving by this time and promptly came to the conclusion that I had run over the boy in my truck. So these peasant farmers started beating me with sticks and canes, making it very difficult for me to take care of the boy and administer first aid. I relied on the Bible and the story of Jesus' crucifixion (Matt. 27: 26-35) where Jesus was spit upon and hit on the head with a reed and literally nailed to the cross. Still, Jesus did nothing in retaliation and expressed only love and compassion for those people. I tried to demonstrate the same. It came to me very clearly to ask for the parents.
Eventually, the parents of the teenage boy showed up and believed my story. The boy received proper attention, regained consciousness, and showed signs that he would recover. I exchanged information with town authorities and was permitted to go on my way. Later at work, although management did not approve of what I had done, they decided not to take disciplinary action against me.
The above-mentioned story happened a few years ago and is intended to illustrate how having a knowledge of the Bible can actually prepare us when a "real life" situation occurs, and we think that we are miles from anywhere or anyone who can help.
Today, I hold a management position for the largest water well, environmental and minerals drilling company in the world, Layne Christensen Company. I started in the precious minerals exploratory drilling business almost 23 years ago at the lowest paying position in the company as a "sample catcher" on a drill rig. As manager of the company's Mineral Division, I have enjoyed an exciting and rewarding career path. Besides having many great experiences here in North America, I have also had the opportunity to live and work in four different countries in South America. I have been involved with various drilling projects from the Northwest Territories above Canada to the Patagonia region of southernmost Argentina. The common thread that I noticed in all of these places is everybody's connection in one way or another with the Bible and the people and stories contained therein.
For a while my family and I lived in Rio de Janeiro (Rio), Brazil. Rio is an amazingly beautiful city that meanders along a picturesque bit of the Atlantic coast. Steep, granite mountains covered with luscious tropical vegetation rise up from the city. Here the largest man-made statue of Jesus that I am aware of towers above Rio and its famous beaches. This statue is named Corcovado or Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) and is 100 feet tall and is visited by tourists from all different parts of the globe each year. Visiting this statue made me really aware of how Jesus, through his teachings, impacted the world more than any one individual.
I consider the Bible mostly to consist of one big challenge after another. Sometimes with work, I feel the same way -- that work is really just one big challenge after another. I get much of my inspiration at work from successful individuals, teams, or groups that handle challenges well. The Bible is full of these types of people. Moses was a great example. He had the incredible ability to listen to God -- from his humble infancy when he was placed in a small reed basket and floated downstream to freedom during a time when all the boy babies were being sacrificed (Ex. 2:1-10), to when he led the children of Israel through the wilderness (Ex. 15-19+), and climbed Mount Sinai to write the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19-20).
In Brazil there were two times in particular that I really had to listen wholeheartedly and put my trust totally in God, as Moses had done.
We were in the Amazon basin carrying equipment for drilling operations and were told not to go through one village because we were certain to be infected with malaria. But, if we avoided the town, we would not only be slowed down, but the alternate river crossing would potentially be more dangerous. At camp that night, we sat around and discussed the options. I knew that we didn't want to let fear govern our actions. It seemed that the right thing to do was to go through that village. Our group was protected, and none of us got malaria.
On another trip, we were again warned to avoid a certain village. This time it was because the local "garimperos," or illegal miners, would threaten our lives since they thought that we would steal their gold. As the leader of this operation, I had to listen. When I turned to God, it became clear to me that we weren't there to steal their gold or to harm them; we were not trying to disrupt anything. Rather, I had to love them, even though they were wielding knives. So, we did everything not to provoke or disturb them. Eventually, we were able to work in the same region harmoniously with them, respecting each other's space.
In my current management position, I often listen to two or more opinions as to how or why something should be done. Almost every time I am faced with this type of decision, I remember the story in the Bible of King Solomon's wisdom (I Kings 3: 18-28).
It is a story of two mothers who each had a baby only three days apart. One mother accidentally rolled on her baby during the night, smothering him, and that mother switched babies during the night to have a living baby. The other mother instinctively knew that the babies had been switched and that her real baby was with the other mother. The mothers argued before the King, both claiming to be the mother of the live baby. King Solomon had the wisdom to realize that when he decreed that the baby be divided in two equal halves, one for each mother, the real mother would cry out and want her baby to live.
As I learn a little more each day and gain a little more each day, I realize that a major part of my business accomplishments and successes can be attributed to my knowledge of the Bible. It just doesn't matter what the challenge, somewhere in the Bible there always seems to be some story that fits the problem at hand, whether it is dealing with economic hardship… Once Jesus' disciples went fishing, caught nothing, and had no meat. Jesus stood on the shore telling the disciples to "cast the net on the right side of the ship." The disciples then were not able to pull up the net because of the abundance of fish (John 21:3-6);
or being involved in seemingly impossible, helpless, no-win situations… the story of David and Goliath (I Sam. 17);
or getting caught up in some potentially life-threatening terrorist situation… "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me" (Ps. 23).
I firmly believe that my career opportunities are greater when I "love one another" (John 13:34) as Jesus did; when I listen to God as Moses did; and when I try to have the wisdom to make good choices as King Solomon did.
A final note that I would like to share especially with teens and young adults: to me, the Bible is very difficult to read literally, word for word, and understand. I'll share a little secret: my favorite sources for learning about the Bible are through children's books and audio cassette tapes that include stories of the Bible. So, many times it is through these books or cassettes that a message or story is communicated in words that I feel I can actually understand. I recommend that you, too, find some way -- whether it is this website, a Bible study class, a church camp, or just someone who really knows a lot about the Bible -- to discover how the Bible might fit into your present, your future, and your career.
About Steve Alford and Drilling
Steve Alford is the District Manger for the Minerals Division of the largest water well, environmental and minerals drilling company in the world, Layne Christensen Company. He started in the precious minerals exploratory drilling business almost 23 years ago at the lowest paying position in the company as a sample catcher on a drill rig. As a sample catcher, he extracted, labeled, and bagged mineral samples from the exploratory drilling operation. The next position he held was as a driller's helper, assisting the driller on the platform with the handling of all the tooling (wrenches and pipes, etc.) necessary for adding pipe to drill deeper or pulling out pipe. A few years later, he became a driller, the operator who is in charge of all the equipment and personnel. The driller pulls the levers and performs the drilling operations. Finally he became a superintendent overseeing all the operations. He was also a sales manager in charge of getting the contracts for the company. At that point, he took an overseas opportunity to start Layne's first mineral office in South America in Bolivia. When Layne Christensen acquired the largest drilling company in South America, he became the operations manager of that South American affiliate and moved to Chile.
He had an opportunity to pursue a life-long dream of starting and running his own company in Brazil, which he did for 2 ½ years. Then, Newmont, the largest gold producing company in the world, approached him to oversee their drilling needs for their operations in South America, so he and his family moved to Peru. Two years ago, he became District Manager of Layne Christensen's Mineral Division, which brought him back to the United States. He has enjoyed an exciting and rewarding career path.
Steve's family has been a tremendous support. He, his wife Laura, and children Brandon and Jessica, lived in Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, and Peru for a total of almost 7 years. Throughout that time, they worked as a team, making the transitions and adjustments easily so that Steve could succeed at his job and in turn support his family.