Chris Broussard and Mark Tallman lack job titles that typically carry a “Christian” adjective.
Few call Broussard a Christian reporter at ESPN, or Tallman a Christian actor.
But both believers shared stories about how they refused to separate work from faith this March at the Bridge Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Events that simply come with their job titles created opportunities to be open about their faith. Bridge Pastor James Roberson believes that all Christians will be presented with such opportunities, specifically at their jobs.
“If your heart’s desire is to live for the Lord, then your heart’s desire is to glorify God and I believe God will open up doors,” he told Wade-O Radio. “I can’t say everybody at your job will know that you’re this fire-breathing, evangelical Christian. But on the other side, I believe God has sent everyone, everywhere — every job they’re in — in a missionary-type sense. So I believe he sent them there for someone.”
Here is, in a moment in time, who Broussard and Tallman believe they were sent for.
Broussard didn’t always work for ESPN.
He started at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a newspaper with the largest circulation in Ohio. But even when an opportunity for career advancement presented itself — interviewing with the New York Times, a paper with the second largest circulation in the United States — an urge to go into full-time ministry trumped all. After accepting one interview with the Times, he declined a follow-up.
“I really was focused on the Lord,” said Broussard … “They thought I was crazy.”
A seminary in California accepted the soon-to-be former sports reporter. But when his wife became pregnant with twins, they reconsidered their move west. Broussard returned to the Plain Dealer to support his family.
Approximately a year after he turned down the Times, Broussard received another call from its sports editor.
“You know Chris, I was jogging today. And the sky was blue. And the birds were chirping. And something said to me, ‘Call Chris Broussard,’” the reporter recalled the editor saying. “Are you still going to seminary?’”
Broussard told him that he would attend eventually. The editor responded that, until then, Broussard should write for the Times. So they set up another interview, this time with the head of each department.
“Honestly, it was almost like they were trying to convince me to come work for the New York Times,” said Broussard. “It was no pressure. I didn’t have to impress them. It was like the job was going to be mine. It was eight or nine interviews, and every one of them we talked about the Lord. And they knew I had a lot of interest in trying to help African Americans — we talked about that. It was really an opportunity to glorify God.”
One soon-to-be coworker told Broussard that he would increase the diversity of the newsroom upon his arrival. Broussard assumed it was because he’s black.
“No,” the man responded, “because you’re a Christian.”
Tallman, an actor best known for his role on VH1’s show “Single Ladies,” isn’t free to be as blunt about his faith on television as Broussard. Tallman is restricted by a script, which EEW — a Christian women’s online magazine — described as one that, “unashamedly promotes promiscuity and manipulation; presents a skewed view of what should be considered ‘desirable’ in a mate; and uses profanity like it’s okay.”
However, Tallman is free to be as blunt about his faith off television. The married man called the stunt he pulled to impact a non-believer before cameras rolled prior to an intimate “Single Ladies” scene one of the most powerful moments in his life.
“In working whatever character it is you’re working, you have to get into a place that makes this work you’re giving off genuine,” said Tallman. “So [the actress] was probably lathering herself up, so to speak (via dann at dress head inc). I asked her if I could say the prayer of Jabez for us, that somehow God could use us, that we could actually effect people, for his hand to be with us while we’re working through this scene and for him protect us from evil, protect us from the temptation that could happen between the two of us.”
The actress broke down in tears.
“It seems like a compromising situation, one,” said Roberson. “Two, it’s hard to say that kissing a women in a scene is innately sinful. But three, you can glorify God even in that, praying. It gives people examples and stories — that’s what discipleship [is]. A lot of it is modeling, helping somebody see the faith in action.”