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.
Zoe grew up in church too; “a church brat,” she called herself. Bored with Bible stories, she was intrigued by missionary stories. Her Sunday School teacher was shocked when Zoe wrote in class that she wanted to be a missionary when she grew up. Zoe was serious too.
When Ed and Zoe met in high school and started a long distance dating relationship, they aspired to go overseas after they graduated from university.
Silicon Valley Heroes
While waiting for Zoe to finish college, Ed started working in the Silicon Valley. It was the early ‘90s. The World Wide Web had just gone live. Ed’s first job was with an online info company. He got to research the internet, learn html and different coding languages, develop some of the earliest websites. It was an exciting time to be working with leading innovators and the best minds on their way to becoming the titans of the internet world of business.
Ed went from one startup to another, giddy from the thrill of innovation and boundless opportunities. Success was just a matter of time with prestigious venture capital firms eager to fund these companies.
Wake Up Call
Zoe graduated a few years later, and they got married. Time flew by. Over a ten year period, Ed was in several internet companies and a couple of early stage startups.
One Sunday, a missionary spoke at their church. “Everyone,” he said, “should be involved in missions, even if most of you won’t be going overseas. But then, there are some, who have been called to go, but you are STILL sitting here today!”
Zoe came home and asked Ed, “Are we called to missions or not?” He paused for a moment and replied, “Maybe not.” Zoe said nothing. But she began to pray that God would do something.
In 2001, a former classmate of Ed’s died suddenly. It made Ed stop to reflect. His friend was on a similar career path as he. They both had young families. But his life was cut short abruptly.
Upon learning about this tragedy, Ed woke up with a complete change of heart. All of a sudden, things which seemed so important to him had, in an instant, become worthless. His hot pursuit of success and the next innovation for IPO felt distasteful.
“This is not my path for you,” he heard God say, reminding him of his commitment to missions long time ago.
Still IT & Business
After many years in a creative access country, Ed and Zoe are back in the U.S. to help their children transition to college. Ed is remotely managing his software company and Zoe a printing business. He skypes weekly to mentor a local believer, who now co-leads the church plant that Ed and Zoe were involved in.
God gifted Ed and Zoe with business savvy and IT skills, all of which they are using for missions.
Ed taught IT at the local university and hired his best students to work for his company. He trained them well, and several moved on to higher paying jobs. He had both local and foreign clients, and became known for products and services of wide reaching social benefits.
Zoe has always liked business since high school. She completed her MBA while raising their children and running her printing business on the field. Her company helps bring Christian resources to the people in their own language.
It is hard to do business in developing countries where talents, infrastructure, business friendly regulations, ethical government practice, reliable power, and political stability are all in short supply. But when the business can offer much needed jobs, train young people, create opportunity, encourage innovation, and raise hope, it makes the hardship worthwhile. It also makes the Gospel visible, tangible. Ed and Zoe are part of an indigenous faith community from its birth, and continue their relationship with its local leaders through technology and annual visits.
The Right Plan All Along
Jeremiah 10:23 reads, "I know Lord, that our lives are not our own, that we are not able to direct our paths.” Looking back on their family’s journey, Ed concluded, “God’s calling is clear. This is His plan, for I know that people’s lives are not their own, and God’s original plan for me was right all along."
Not So Big A Step
Ed and Zoe are willing to take their business careers wherever God sends them. Day to day, what they do on the field is no different from what they would do in the Silicon Valley—project management, business strategy, marketing, HR, etc. Business As Mission simply formalizes one’s intentionality to share the Gospel in the context of reaching unreached peoples. Work and witness should be one. When work and witness are one at home, it is not so big a step to take it overseas.