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.
The Gospel as Good News must address both the spiritual and socio-economic poverty of the people. To do so, we need many believers in business, who will answer the call to offer their international careers for the cause of God’s Kingdom.
Good business strengthens ties between nations by bringing people together in mutually beneficial exchanges, thereby contributing to peace and stability. It also boosts the economic sectors and creates jobs that improve people’s livelihoods. Business is not just a door opener for the Gospel. It provides natural contacts to do life with the nationals, giving them daily opportunities to witness the Gospel in action.
Call to Believers in Business
Business people, their skills and experiences are needed in partnership with church planting missionaries. As far back as 2004, the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business As Mission had noted:
“The task before us is quite challenging and includes the need to create jobs, new business startups, access venture capital, business know-how, access to markets and clear business ethics. Drawing on the same existing resources for traditional missions will not be enough. However, there are thousands of people in churches worldwide, with the right skill sets, experiences and contacts that can make a significant difference cross-culturally through business as mission (BAM). Mobilizing, deploying, equipping and supporting them effectively will release untapped resources for the mission of the Church.”
But the reality is this: The Christian business sector is still a largely untapped resource. How can we advocate and engage business people to take action?
Engaging the Next Generation
The GLS Business Case Competition is one small step to inspire and mobilize business minded young people of the next generation. Students serve as consultants to offer recommendations for marketing and outreach to a missional business in South Asia. In the process, they learn about the challenges and rewards of BAM in the early stages of their careers. Creating opportunities for internships and apprenticeships on the field are the next steps.
Young people also need to see and be inspired by examples—real life stories of others with whom they can identify. They need to be able to say: “I am no missionary hero, but I can see how I may do this too.”
We will share three stories to illustrate two approaches to international business careers for the Kingdom. They are stories of ordinary young people who have experienced God’s extraordinary grace and faithfulness as they follow him in obedience.
Three Stories Two Paths
The first two stories describe tentmakers who work for international companies in China. This is the corporate path, which is possible in big cities with more developed economies. The third story describes a couple who serve in a less developed Muslim country that resembles China thirty years ago. This is the entrepreneurial path. They started their own businesses when professional jobs were simply not there.
The two tentmaker couples left for the field in their twenties. Their international careers essentially developed on the field as they served in an urban church setting. The entrepreneurial couple had more established careers and startup experiences before they left for the field in their mid-thirties. While running their own companies, they were part of a church planting team.
In all three stories, God’s sovereignty and grace are a big part of their journeys. Nonetheless, they must bring to the table personal commitment and courage, faith in God to do the impossible, and all the professional skills and savvy they are blessed with.