This fall, we organized an Entrepreneurship Workshop for students at a university in a Central Asian country. It was a great success.
The students’ English was better than expected so that translation was not necessary. One of our team members had taught at top Chinese universities and found the Muslim students even more engaging. Like young people in the West, they dream about becoming entrepreneurs. So our team brought them what they want.
“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.”
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.
While BAM poses many challenges, unreached peoples in many countries are “desperately seeking Western business know-how and investment. With jet travel, business people can get anywhere in the world in twenty-four hours. English has become the lingua franca of business. It seems that all of the pieces are falling into place for Business As Missions in much the same way the Pax Romana and the Greek language prepared the ancient world for the original transmission of the gospel. It remains for us to strategize, plan, and then act to take advantage of this kairos moment that God has prepared.”
Not all BAM companies are success stories. Even in the U.S., at least 50% of startups do not survive beyond five years. Entrepreneurship in emerging economies and foreign cultures means a high entry threshold and a steep learning curve. Despite the daunting challenge, hundreds of trail blazers are already out there.
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.
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.
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.
Reaching Emerging Tech Capitals for the 10/40 Window
Business As Missions (BAM) is the cutting edge of the worldwide missions movement and becoming increasingly important as the least reached nations become harder and harder to access.
Closed & Open Doors
For years, the countries where the gospel is most needed have been closed to traditional missionaries. Many have therefore gone out as NGO workers in education, humanitarian service or community development. However, in recent years, the doors to NGOs are also closing.
Is it possible to have a profitable and missional business that creates jobs for the poor in an emerging economy using sustainable local materials to produce well-designed products for environmentally aware customers in the West? … The Quadruple Bottom Line of Business as Mission (BAM) aims at holistic witness to the Gospel that brings about economic, social, environmental and spiritual transformation to bless the unreached …