One Sabbath afternoon during the height of the pandemic, Lott Chidawaya was at home in Maryland when he started thinking about risk management. This was not an unusual subject for Chidawaya to contemplate. As a senior financial expert at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), risk management is part of Chidawaya’s professional language.
But Chidawaya was not thinking about business. He was contemplating risk management in connection with mortality and his Christian faith.
Realizing that even his secular acquaintances were also thinking about death more than usual because of the masses of people dying from the COVID-19 virus, Chidawaya composed a LinkedIn article on the subject.
Beginning with language his colleagues would recognize and relate to, Chidawaya made his point clear. “God says He has the solution to our mortal predicament—the potential of missing out on this, if God exists, could turn out to be the mother of losses.”
Across the ocean in Berlin, Germany, one of Chidawaya’s colleagues signed into her LinkedIn account. Yuliya Kudrashova first met Chidawaya at a workshop he had spoken at four years earlier. He advised her professionally, and she appreciated his guidance. So when she saw his post, she was curious about what he had to say.
Chidawaya’s words got her thinking about life. “The effect of this post on me cannot be overstated,” says Kudrashova. “He talked in my professional language about my faith—and I heard him.”
Wanting to discuss these ideas more, Kudrashova got in contact with Chidawaya. Soon he was leading her through weekly topical Bible studies over video chat. They talked about what it means to believe in God, what it means to be saved, and other fundamental aspects of Christianity. Kudrashova became the firstfruits of Chidawaya’s LinkedIn ministry when she accepted the Adventist faith.
A couple weeks after Chidawaya’s first LinkedIn article, news of George Floyd’s murder dominated the headlines. Protests erupted across the country. As the national guard was being mobilized in Minnesota, Chidawaya worked on his response to the news, a LinkedIn article titled “Reflections on Racism, Classism, and other Forms of Segregation.”
In analyzing the problem of what Chidawaya describes as grandiose delusions that one person can be superior to another, he covered the subjects of Creation, the Sabbath, and Satan’s fall.
“Thus true religion of God presents the human family as equals whose worthiness comes only from character developed through supreme love of God and impartial love for humanity,” he concluded.
The article, described by one investment officer as “mind-boggling,” had more than 1,000 views. At this point LinkedIn employees noticed the traffic Chidawaya’s articles were bringing to the platform, and asked him to write more.
Meanwhile some of his Adventist connections began to express concerns. “This is a professional platform,” they would say, unaware that those operating LinkedIn were encouraging Chidawaya to continue. Of all the responses he got, the only negative ones he received were from Adventists who didn’t believe his posts were being shared at the right time or in the right place.
“There’s never a perfect time to share the gospel,” Chidawaya says. “If they’re waiting for a perfect time, that time won’t come.”
That’s not to say that Chidawaya doesn’t look for opportunities, conversations happening in society that lead into a religious discussion. “I pray for the Lord to impress upon my mind the perfect timing and way to present the gospel message,” he says.
In fact, it is the connection he makes between current events and his Christian worldview that attracts readers. People who would never read a purely spiritual piece are interested in what he has to say as a finance expert.
Recognizing that it’s unusual for an accomplished professional in his field to also be a godly person, Chidawaya is grateful for the doors God has opened for him to speak intelligently to this section of society. Had Chidawaya’s educational journey gone as he had planned, he wouldn’t have had these opportunities.
Growing up in a poor household in Zimbabwe, Chidawaya was the son of a man who had trained to be a Catholic priest. “[My father] was a religious man from a young age,” says Chidawaya, “and he grounded me in the Bible.”
When Chidawaya went away to a government boarding school as a teenager, he met some Adventist students, read The Great Controversy, and became the first Adventist in his family. The Adventists at the school had permission to hold Sabbath services on campus, and in his senior year Chidawaya was put in charge of that group of worshippers.
After graduation he had plans of becoming a doctor, but medical school presented several challenges. First, he was not able to take one of the required tests, because it was held on the Sabbath. After the scheduled exam, one of Chidawaya’s professors berated him in front of an auditorium packed with more than 100 students. The professor could not understand why Chidawaya wouldn’t just go ahead and take the test, then ask for forgiveness from his pastor.
It wasn’t only Sabbath issues that interrupted Chidawaya’s plans, but also a student protest, a protest so severe that it indefinitely closed down the University of Zimbabwe, where he was studying.
Because this was the only university in Zimbabwe offering medical studies at the time, Chidawaya relocated to South Africa, but he was unable to receive credit for the classes he had already taken. If he were to continue pursuing a medical degree, he would have to restart the seven-year process toward becoming a doctor.
Entering the World of Finance
At his brother’s suggestion, Chidawaya switched to finance. It was purely a pragmatic decision, but it is what led him to be able to speak for God in the financial sector.
Now he is able to follow the biblical model of helping the poor and marginalized through his work at IMF, an organization that is the economic first responder to countries facing hardships. “It’s almost like a lifeline for most countries,” says Chidawaya. “There’s nowhere else they could borrow from.”
Marrying his Christian calling to his work, Chidawaya helps the marginalized while witnessing to the privileged. He talks openly about his faith and has shared The Great Controversy with those in his professional circle. “My Christianity is central to who I am,” he says.
Also central to who he has become is the environment he grew up in. After his conversion to the Adventist faith, his parents also joined the church. He credits their commitment to following God as the reason his life turned out differently than the lives of his childhood peers.
“Most of my friends didn’t have the privilege of godly parents,” he says. “They were drinking and smoking at a young age.”
In December 2021 Chidawaya visited his childhood home. The church where his family was worshiping didn’t have a place to meet. During the pandemic the school where the church had been meeting closed its doors, leaving the congregation without a place to worship.
Chidawaya spoke with his aging father, who agreed to donate some land for the church. A few months later Chidawaya’s father died, but the church is being built on the land he gave, with Chidawaya funding the project.
Chidawaya knows that his father is sleeping, waiting for Christ to return. When LinkedIn asked him to continue writing articles, he wanted to share the peace he has found in this message.
“People tend to worship God out of fear,” he says, commenting on how he has seen the tendency of those who believe in an eternal soul to eventually leave the Christian faith because they couldn’t understand a God who burns people in hell for eternity.
Chidawaya prayed for an opportunity to present the truth about death to his LinkedIn community. “You can’t just start talking about the state of the dead,” he says.
The opportunity arose only a few weeks after his second post. As Chidawaya watched President Trump’s May Employment Report, he noticed that the president hoped that George Floyd was “looking down” from heaven. This was the hook he needed. He posted his third LinkedIn article, focusing on the state of the dead. In the discussion from that post, there were questions and comments about hell, which Chidawaya then addressed in his next post.
To date, Chidawaya has posted five meaty, religious articles on his LinkedIn page. He continues to study the Bible with those who respond to his articles, and he continues to look for openings to share God’s message with a world longing for a better alternative. “People are going through stress and looking for answers,” he says. He knows that the Adventist Church has these answers; all we need to do is share them with those who are seeking. “Peace comes from knowing that the Lord is in charge, regardless of the rumors around us. We are sitting on a treasure trove.”