When you first meet Pradeepan, a senior biology major at The University of Texas at Austin, he may seem a bit on the quiet side. However, it doesn’t take long for his smile to take over, and you discover his fun, spontaneous streak—upon seeing two of his favorite couples in front of a camera, he clamored to be included as a “fifth-wheel” in the picture—and constantly overflowing with stories of how Jesus is moving.
I got the chance to catch up with him at the end of the summer, and I should have known that just because school was out didn’t mean he was taking a break from living on mission. This time, God was moving through Pradeepan at Chipotle. Yeah, the place with the GMO-free burritos.
The Way, The Truth, and the Burrito
When Pradeepan began working at the campus Chipotle, he was just looking to make some summer cash. He had a friend working there already who was also a Christian, and the two of them talked occasionally of what God could do at Chipotle. “How can we make Chipotle a place where even God can move?” they asked each other, feeling the call but unsure of how to proceed. They started praying.
God soon began to answer those prayers. One event led to another, and, one night, Pradeepan was able to ask his manager to come to church with him…which he did! Their co-workers started noticing and joined them too. Then, another Christian started working at Chipotle, and soon the burrito team was meeting to pray, share testimonies, and go to church together.
“I felt like Chipotle was transforming,” Pradeepan told me. “We started playing worship music on the stereo system. Our boss is really open to it.”
Mission With Integrity
Surprisingly, living on mission while making burritos turned out to be a great combination—kind of like chips and guac. Pradeepan calls the Chipotle culture “people-centric” and comments that missional living is made easier when your job encourages employees to be friends outside of work. “We would just do these ordinary hangouts of ordinary people,” he tells me. “We’d play Mario Kart, get dinner, go to food trucks, hang out at a coffee shop and just talk.”
Pradeepan’s method of missional Chipotle living is simple. He talks about “sharing the kindness,” and recounts one time when a co-worker asked him why he was so happy. “I got to share why, and they were interested in coming to church,” he says, with the tone of someone who sees this sort of stuff all the time, yet never gets bored.
“It’s been crazy to see—[we’ve gone] from one believer to ten people consistently interested in the Gospel — and coming to church,” he finishes, summing up his story.
Make It a Wrap
Finishing up, he asks for prayer in breaking down walls and division, noting that not everyone is happy about the influx of the Gospel. And while he’s feeling the push-back, he’s also excited to see what’s coming next. “I know that Holy Spirit is there guiding us and continuing to guide us. If God can change Chipotle, He can change a campus, and He can change the world.”
Pradeepan pauses and seizes the moment: “We’re changing lives one burrito at at time.”
Watch Pradeepan share his story below:
Melody Valadez graduated with a physics degree from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2015. She now volunteers with Campus Renewal and collaborates with the Christians in Natural Sciences Missional Community. Melody is the author of Those Who Trespass, a novel for young adults that blurs the line between secular and Christian fiction.