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Faith and the bottom line

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Tom and Peggy Ganus put their heads into the computer industry and their hearts into their faith.

Customers walking into the couple’s Midwest Computer Solutions business on State Street in Columbus can see both on display a few steps inside the door. An open Bible rests on the counter not far from electronic tablets, routers and other electronic items for sale.

A portrait of Jesus hangs on the front wall along with 11 crosses of various sizes and shapes — one for each year the two have been in business. If this juxtaposition does not compute with some visitors, that’s quite all right with Tom.

“I don’t think Christian business people need to be afraid of letting customers know exactly where they stand,” Tom Ganus said, sitting in his side office where he has been known to take a burdened customer and pray if the person wishes. “Some people might ask, ‘Are we doing all this just to get more business?’”

He paused.

“If that’s the case, then woe be unto me the day I stand before the Lord,” he said.

The owners are part of a number of area mainstream business operators comfortably placing their faith as a top, very visible priority in a bottom-line world. These are companies whose direct mission is mainstream service, unlike, say, Columbus’ Ark Book & Gift, the Christian bookstore that is a bona fide business ministry.

“I am simply openly acknowledging that I am a Christian believer first,” Ganus said. “That’s who I am from the time I get up in the morning until the time I lay my head on the pillow at night.”

Dining and Scripture

Columbus residents George and Stella Estep can relate.

Their firm, Estep & Co., operates 41 Subway restaurants in Indiana and one Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant. But job applicants and others walking into the home office on the north side of Columbus hear an audio version of the Bible playing softly or maybe contemporary Christian music.

Company trucks feature Scripture emblazoned on the driver’s door.

“In our restaurants, we take a very subtle approach,” Stella Estep said, well aware that many employees are not necessarily Christian or interested in the faith. “But we realize we’re not just in the sandwich business. We’re in the people business.”

Estep said the office music or Scripture is a way to remind visitors that God wants to be a part of their lives.

“We are living in a time when we must find ways to let people know that the Lord loves them,” she said. “And we want them to know that he wants to open his treasure chest to them and give them all he has for them.”

Both the Esteps and the Ganuses have put their faith center stage as sponsors at local Christian pop-rock concerts attracting as many as 1,000 people. Ganus even prayed with great emotion over the microphone before a concert with Grammy-winning Christian artist TobyMac in November 2011.

Fixing more than homes

Joe Kinderman of Columbus put his faith right upfront when he launched his Heavenly Handyman business in 1998 shortly after moving here from Michigan. He became a Mr. Fix-it of household items. But he also has made time to at least listen — and sometimes pray — with people needing God to repair something broken in their life.

His business card features the Scripture from Phillipians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And the business name frequently has prompted practical and spiritual questions from curious customers.

“But I’ve never Bible-thumped at all,” Kinderman said. “I’ve been more in the habit of steering people in a direction where they might find help.”

These days, he has cut his workload substantially, primarily retaining business clients loyal through the years. He long has realized that God wants him to use more than his toolbox in his work.

“I sometimes have tried to take some time (at a house) to figure out maybe why else I am there,” he said. “Maybe it’s just because someone needs a little direction or maybe just a shoulder.”

Dancing for the lord

Tami Lawson of Columbus figures she is at her Dance By Design Studio for several reasons. But the main one is featured in the opening line on the home page of her studio website at “Our mission is to see the Lord glorified through dance.”

She began teaching dance for free in the basement of Berean Bible Church as part of its drama presentations at services eight years ago. Today, she has 230 students.

“Many parents have come to us because they wanted to be careful about dance that was modest and age-appropriate for their children,” Lawson said.

Each class begins with brief prayer, and teachers sometimes pray individually upon request from students.

“God opened the door here,” Lawson said. “I just walked through it.”

All the owners said the overwhelming amount of feedback about their public faith stance has been positive. Yet, the Ganuses sometimes have seen a few customers get prickly on estimates before work is done.

Such customers have offered an irritated thought: “I thought you were Christian.”

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