Courageous Third

Our Story

Learn how it all began!

The Courageous Third Story

by Craig Carter, Founder

 

The story of Courageous Third can be summarized in two words: Just Follow

 

It is a story about how God is at work and how we get to be a part of it when we listen and follow Him. For me, it started in the early 1990s when I was on a short-term missionary trip to Brazil. I asked the missionary there, how I can help people? His reply was the only way a businessperson can help the poor or anyone, is to make a lot of money and give it all away. What he did not realize is that the frontline calling for most of us in the world is to reflect God’s love at work, where we spend approximately 55% of our waking hours – the majority of our life. Little did I know at the time, but a tiny seed was planted in that conversation, one that would be watered over the years, until at last, something beautiful and new began to grow.

 

 

Humble Beginnings

In 1997, I joined Intel Corporation and became a member of the Intel Bible Based Christian Network. At Intel, I was blessed to lead different Bible studies and a variety of groups – men’s, topical, and prayer. Participants would come alive at work – deepening their friendships and improving teamwork. They had greater purpose.

 

 

The Choice: Good or Great?

In September of 2017, things started to become more interesting. I was on a flight from Arizona to California and God spoke to me as I was studying the book of John. I heard God clearly ask me if I would like the Good path or the Great path for my life. He told me the Good path is very good, but the Great path is truly great, but it would be the path of Abraham and Joseph, with much unknown, but also much blessing. I chose the Great path.

 

 

The Path is Often Rocky to Start

During my career at Intel, I was a corporate finance systems controller and I had spent five years being trained to be responsible for all of Intel’s reporting and budgeting financial systems, helping to put in the large SAP system. The day after I chose the Great path, my career fell off a cliff, with my manager telling me I was being moved to another department. I remember questioning God, saying this does not feel like the Great path at all! Two years later, I had a failed root-canal right before a meeting where I expected to lose my job. As I sat in the car wondering how this sure didn’t feel great… God showed me a picture of a beautiful blue – but frighteningly huge – wave with a small surfer riding it. God told me I needed to trust Him even with my eyes closed and surf this huge wave, as it will give Him great glory. As expected, I did get notice my job was eliminated. I was upset, discouraged, and definitely feeling this was not great!

 

 

My wonderful wife, though, felt that God was not done with me at Intel. She kept praying for me to find a new job there. On Good Friday of 2019 I was the only person in the division to receive a job offer, despite a division-wide hiring freeze. That Easter Sunday my wife and I felt led to go to the Intel campus and to pray for my new job. There I heard clearly through my wife, God calling me to this marketplace ministry area. It felt completely overwhelming, yet I could feel God’s power fill me. I really didn’t understand what it all meant. 

God Multiplies

Later that month I accepted the role to lead the global Intel Bible Based Christian network group. For over 25 years, the Intel Christian group had been in three countries. Several of us immediately started praying that more Christian leaders could be found at the many sites where Intel had offices. God answered. As of today, the Intel Christian group is in 18 nations. Some of the leaders had been leading Bible studies with colleagues for up to 20 years, feeling so isolated. Their joy in being part of the global team was inspiring!

God’s Direct Order – and What Happened When I Said No (!)

In the fall of 2019, God called me to start the Intel Cross-Faith employee resource group. This included seven faith-based groups – Atheist, Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim and Sikh. God told me to do this on a Wednesday and I told him no, because I had heard Interfaith and Cross-Faith prayers which were extremely offensive. I would not compromise my faith. I heard God repeat the same requests on Thursday and on Friday. I told God no each of those days. On Saturday, though, when I was doing chores in the backyard, the tone of God’s voice changed dramatically. It was the most stern, father voice correcting his son that I have ever heard. It was terrifying! He bluntly told me, “Craig, I have given you a clear and direct order. It is now your choice”. 

 

I now understood the verses in the Bible about the fear of the Lord. I was terrified, and I immediately sent a meeting invite to the Atheist leader because I thought that would be the most difficult group to get to know. I was absolutely wrong. I asked him “…could you tell me about your faith journey?”.  He did, and he loved sharing it with me. Then he asked me about my faith journey, and I shared it with him. And much to my surprise, he said, “It is a great idea to start a cross-faith group! I am in!”. Then it was on to talking to the Iranian Muslims, Pakistani Muslims, Baha’i and all the other faith groups at Intel. Everyone was excited to start this Cross-Faith group. 

 

In early 2020 Intel won an award from the United Nations for Religious Inclusion honoring the Intel CEO and head of HR and was ranked number one in the world for religious inclusion and diversity. These awards opened the doors for me to get to know many of the Fortune 500 and other large company Christian employee group leaders. I cannot emphasize enough the joy it was to start and lead this Cross-Faith team of leaders. I am amazed – God did not give up on me, even though I said “no” three times!  I am glad God didn’t send a fish to swallow me. 

The Season of Praying and Waiting

In the summer of 2020, I went to the desert to ask God what he wanted me to do, my heart was in pain seeing the situation the world was in. He told me to “wait and pray”. I did for over a year, fasting at times, and I heard nothing. It was extremely frustrating. Then in August of 2021 I felt God asking me to open a blank PowerPoint deck and to start writing. The concept of Courageous Third became reality. The word COURAGEOUS is important because it is action in spite of fear. The word THIRD is also of importance because God calls us to be third – God is first and others are second, above ourselves. By early 2022, after sharing the idea with several leaders at Intel, God clearly told me again “Wait, the players and the pieces are not yet ready”. This was frustrating to hear, but I obeyed. 

 

By the summer of 2022 my job was going well but my heart was not in it as my passion for marketplace ministry continued to grow. My heart was breaking as I knew that product management was not where I wanted to remain, so I took it to God in prayer. God responded and I started writing all of it in my journal. He told me many things that encouraged me and of His great love for me. Then God told me this “…the path is clear, the road is smooth. Now is the time to go, to fly. I am with you. Stand firm. Be a man of courage. Go forward.” Wow. I was beyond shocked at this promise, so I waited. Exactly four weeks later, I had a surprise meeting with my two managers. In this meeting they told me Intel was reducing the workforce, and that my job was eliminated, I could retire, and I would get a severance package. This was exactly five years and two days after God gave me the choice to select the Good or the Great path. This was the Great path! I was so excited I could not stop smiling as my managers told me my job had been eliminated. They were surprised by my reaction. I could not contain the great joy I felt – how God had told me this would occur, and it was better than I would have guessed! 

A New Journey

After 25+ years with the stability and the joy of working at Intel, I started a new journey, into the unknown. God told me for the month of January I was not to network or look for a job, but to spend a lot of time in prayer, reading, and to wait on him. This was very difficult for me to do. One week into January, I got an unexpected phone call from a friend who lives in Washington DC, who is a devout Catholic. He invited me to take his place at a primarily Catholic conference in Rome, Italy. I told him “No thank you, because God is calling me to wait”. Then God promptly told me to go! So in February of 2023 not knowing a single person at this conference and staying with 5 nuns that ran a boarding house, I was in Rome with 122 people from 22 nations, a mix of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders, talking about how we can help everyone in the world – by the year 2033 – know about the great love of God for them. The year 2033 is the 2000th anniversary of Easter. There I felt God asking me, though a Protestant, to help the Catholic group as a volunteer. I started volunteering with the group to help them out which then brought me to Jerusalem in May/June of 2023 to pray and to Poland in February of 2024. God strongly cares about unity in his global Body uniting Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox in spite of their differences, to tell everyone about the love of God. 

God Assembles Courageous Third

We prayed for the right team, and God answered. By the end of 2023 we had a full board of directors and many of the key members of the Courageous Third team, plus a clear vision of what God wants us to do: unite His children in the marketplace. Our goal is to build the strength and character of God’s children by enabling people to connect at work as well as connecting them to ministries and other Christian Employee Groups around the globe, and in doing so, enable each of us to live fuller, more impactful lives, all to His glory.

 

Courageous Third: God first. Others second. I am third.

 

We embrace the servant heart of Jesus, as we raise up Christian marketplace groups and other ministries so they can flourish! It’s one way we can truly connect the Body of Christ globally. Will we as followers of Jesus agree on everything? Of course not, my wife and I of nearly 30 years do not agree on everything, yet we do life together in wonderful love. That is what God’s children need to do. The world is hurting, crying out for love – only unity in God’s Body can deliver this. We are called by Jesus in His longest prayer in John 17 to do just that. It is not an option; it is a glorious command, and full of blessings for those who choose this path! It truly demonstrates what being “fully alive” is, loving others in this world as Jesus would.

 

The starting point for Courageous Third is in the marketplace — at work — where people spend ~55% of their waking hours. If a person goes to church twice a week, that is less than 2% of their life. We have to start with where people spend the majority of their time, because that is one of the most impactful places to be reflecting God’s love.  It is truly the “front lines” where the barriers of tradition, doctrinal differences, and culture are low, as people in the marketplace see first-hand the incredible need for God’s love in people’s lives.

 

So, we hope you will join us on this exciting journey as we facilitate uniting God’s children in the marketplace to reflect God’s love at work, and in doing so transform people, companies, then nations through the love of Jesus.