Globalization has significantly impacted the developing countries of the world for better or worse. These countries are characterized by low income, social inequality, poor health, inadequate education, and therefore a general sense of malaise and hopelessness. Many of them are unreached nations in the 10/40 Window.
Spring of 2011, first year out of college, Jane was sent by her company to China on a 3-month rotation. Within a few weeks, she had led her language tutor and her masseuse to Christ. They brought their friends and cousins to cook dinner and study the Bible together at Jane’s apartment every Thursday night. Some of the women were young professionals like Jane. In time, many more of them came to faith.
Lee’s call to tentmaking took ten years to materialize. He left China at age 3, and returned at age 18, his freshman summer on our student exchange program. Lee knew then and there that he must go back.
Ed grew up wanting to be a missionary. Through childhood comic books and guest speakers at conferences, he saw missions as heroic adventures in exotic places. One retreat speaker was engaged in sports missions and shared the Gospel around the world as a basketball player. That too seemed cool. Becoming a missionary had been for Ed a serious career plan since middle school.
Rosalie is a 4th generation Chinese American, raised in the countryside of Oregon. She and her sister were the only believers among the clan. In 1986, she went to China for a year of language study, and discovered two things: she did not want to teach English, and it would take more than a year or two to have meaningful ministry.
Joe felt called to China ever since his freshman summer missions trip. It took twelve years to complete his education and gain the needed professional and ministry experience before he arrived on the field.
“Growing up overseas, I acquire two languages and cultures to see the world with binocular vision,” Tom wrote in his college application essay. It is true. Intercultural competency that comes with living abroad equips young people to explore new places and relate to people from all kinds of backgrounds.
The 2012 Winter Networker feature article was: “A Family Comes Home: God’s Good Story”. We used pseudonyms as the Wen Family had just returned from China.
Feisty and full of life despite having advanced metastatic cancer, Vickie liked to say, “If I’m not dead, I’m not done.”
Since the time of the Apostle Paul, trade routes have always been highways for missions, taking missionaries from the Old World to the New, and from the West to the East.
Church of the West: World Changers With Mixed Reviews
Before the U.S. emerged as the pre-eminent superpower after WWII, Europe had been dominating the world for 500 years. Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, England and France were the major powers that explored, traded, and colonized many parts of Asia, Africa and the Americas.
During those 500 years, missions and trade were associated with colonial expansion, resulting in criticism from historians and anthropologists.
Trading Centers: Hubs for Outreach
During the first millennium, the spread of Christianity by the Church of the East started from major trading centers that were cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities. With the coexistence and confluence of languages, ideas and religions, people were more open- minded, less tied to any set of traditions or beliefs.
Along the ancient Silk Road, everyone needed a socially understandable identity to not only travel but settle down. As now so then, merchants could go anywhere and be welcomed. Furthermore, trade funded their travels.
China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) vision promises to revive the Ancient Silk Road with a vast network of trade routes linking China with Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, serving as a conduit for diplomacy and economic expansion.
To what extent and how quickly OBOR will achieve its objectives is unknown. Regardless, this Titanic of the Chinese Dream has sailed. The July 2016 Economist devoted three pages to discuss its geopolitical and economic significance.
As we review how trade and missions reached the ancient world, we need to discern how God may work in our time as China’s One Belt One Road initiative impacts the countries and peoples in this vast region of the world that is the heart of the 10/40 Window. In the June 2016 issue of Great Commission Bi-monthly, Dr. Kim Kwong Chan outlined the OBOR missiological implications.
Frank and Elsie moved to an OBOR country a decade ago, and raised their family there.
Frank taught part-time at a university, and recruited the best students to work for his small IT business. One of the apps developed by the company became very...
“Really big and sudden changes in the world of mis- sions don’t come often. But now one is upon us. It’s the major optimism and thrill of business people who are devout believers starting or extending ‘Kingdom Businesses’ around the world.”
(Ralph Winter in Mission Frontiers, Nov-Dec 2007)
Faith At Work & BAM
The Sacred-Secular Divide In Our Thinking
Many Christians subscribe to a spiritual hierarchy that elevates those in full-time ministry to the top and relegates laypeople in secular vocations to the bottom. A sacred-secular divide is deeply entrenched in our thinking. Since “secular” work competes with our time for “real” ministry, and money (confused with the love of money) is a necessary evil, demanding for-profit businesses should be avoided if the purpose for going overseas is to do ministry.
The Moravian Brothers of the 18th century were artisans. They practiced their trade and made apprentices of the natives. Their business bettered the lives of the people they were called to reach, and provided natural daily opportunity for interaction with them.
The story of the Basel Mission Industries in 19th century India is also quite inspiring. The Indian converts were rejected as outcasts by their community. So the British missionaries had to provide for their employment and livelihood. The Mission started printing, weaving and tile manufacturing businesses that employed 3,600 workers, of whom 2,800 were Christians. Employee benefits for both men and women included low cost housing, savings accounts, and sick funds. The famous khaki color was invented in their weaving factory. In 1978, the business became a public company in compliance with government policies, but continued to channel profits to support charitable institutions set up by the Basel Mission Trust.
BAM integrates all aspects of life and godliness. God cares about business related issues like economic development and justice, employment and unemployment, use and distribution of resources, etc. that impact the physical and spiritual wellbeing of people. This is clear as we read the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament. BAM is a change agent to bless the nations.
As such, BAM involves spiritual warfare. It challenges the work of Satan, whose purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy lives through poverty and many forms of oppression resulting from physical and spiritual deprivation. Therefore, the full armor of God, spiritual vigilance and prayer are indispensable for BAM operators.
Looking back, Tom recalls a persistent urge to go to China for the past 20 years. After graduating from college, he spent a few years in the military which allowed him to live in Japan and Korea. Wherever he went, he tried to share God’s love, but a constant pull to China remained in his heart.
It all started when Lance and Laura went on their first missions trip more than ten years ago. They were both in marketing when they caught the vision of working as professionals in China. While they tried to figure out how to merge their career and calling, they kept the vision alive by sharing their experience with others.
Common interests draw people together. So it is not surprising that many meet their other half while studying in college. Similarly, many GoLiveServe alumni also found their mate while participating on a short term project or getting involved in missions.
What better way to find another person of similar interest and calling than by serving the God that you love and doing the things that He has placed on your heart? The journey of others may also shed light on your journey!