Connecting the dots between world of business and world of missions

Seen here are Etienne Roux (Instacom), Andrew Richards (Incontext), Frans Marc (Marx Orthodtics) and Chris Goosen (Afrique Group).

This was the opinion of two missionaries stationed in the Middle East.

They were the key presenters during the one-day Business as Mission (BAM) seminar recently held in Boksburg.

BAM is a global Christian movement that aims to help business people ‘connect the dots’ between the world of business and the world of missions.

The seminar was hosted by INcontext International.

The speakers, who cannot be identified due to security reasons, are Christian leaders in their fields and boast a wealth of experience, knowledge and passion for the possibilities within the business world.

They shared their first-hand experiences of embracing ‘business as mission’ and challenged those attending the seminar to consider how they can use their vocation or business to make an impact in the secular world for God’s divine and sacred purpose.

According to the missionaries, BAM is all about recognising the mission field within the business world, and the unique opportunities that God has created for sharing the Gospel and growing the Kingdom.

They made it clear that those who are interested in building God’s Kingdom have to realise that you cannot treat business and missionary work as separate entities, but that they should be seen as one entity driving one purpose.

They also stressed how, in the world of business and the world of missions, there is no division between the secular and the sacred, and they feed off each other.

They also highlighted the enormous challenge of conducting cross-culture business, and the importance of being relevant within a community or a society before being able to make a spiritual, and also a secular, difference.

One of the presenters said business provided the platform for the best relationships and offered a legitimate role in the community.

“What we have learned as missionaries who are involved in business, especially when stationed in another country, is that it is about being relevant in that society.

“Through business you build genuine relationships which enable you to eventually share the Gospel.

“You cannot always simply go to a foreign town or country and want to be a missionary without being a relevant part of society. You will not always be trusted, and once you become part of society you learn the culture and you understand the needs of the people.”

He emphasised that many who have a heart for God will ultimately be called into the secular for the sacred.

“We all have unique callings to build God’s Kingdom, and all of these callings need to work together to build His Kingdom.

“Some will be called to be full-time in ministry, but most people will be called into the secular world for the reason of making a spiritual impact.

“We need to break down the mindset that business is not ministry.

Your business should be your ministry field in whatever capacity you are involved.”

He pointed out that when it comes to traditional business, the bottom line is money. Yet when it comes to business involved with missionary work, the bottom line is making a social, economic, environmental and spiritual impact.

“There are many terms for BAM, such as Kingdom Business, Great Commission Business and Market Place Ministry. They all imply the same concept – using business for the purpose of advancing God’s work on earth.”

He pointed out BAM can evolve into different forms in order to fulfill its purpose.

“One is where the business has been established purely as a mission, such as setting up an English centre abroad. The business provides a genuine need within the community but then also offers the opportunity to share the Gospel.

“The second is where business has been created to provide for missionary work, and the third is what we call tent-making – when you take a job in a certain country but your heart remains to be a missionary.

“Fourthly, bi-vocational is where you work in the day time and you do missionary work after hours.

“It should be noted BAM is never about setting up for purely economic gain. That is traditional business. Those who function as BAM intend to meet the quadruple bottom line.

“Ultimately we need to see a multitude of different forms of BAM and those who harbour different callings and motivations working together in order to make an impact.

“My heart’s desire remains to see real transformation, which means engaging the community and standing for the Gospel.

“It is also important to explore a multitude of funding models for BAM that can be released into the non-Western Church to drive missions.

“After all, the funding models we use for the Western church will not always work in the non-Western world.

“The BAM model is not the silver bullet of how to conduct missionary work and we are learning along the way.

“It should also be noted that not every missionary is a business person and not every business person is a missionary, yet it is easier to train a business person to be a missionary.”

He emphasised the great challenge for the Church remains that, in order to fulfill the Great Commission, one has to be willing to take risks by conducting cross-culture business as Christians in a hostile environment.

“Always remember, we as believers are all called to be actively part of God’s Kingdom – that work is good and we must all go out. Drawing away from the world to be holy is not Scriptural but a Greek philosophy.

“We must be part of this world to make a difference, and for most of us this means being actively part of the community through business.

The second speaker spoke of his missionary work in North Africa and how he got to realise that adopting a trade or starting a business is of vital importance in order to become relevant in a community.

He had to come to the spiritual realisation that he is not abandoning his spiritual calling in order to go into business.

“There is still this mindset among cultures that to work is unholy and it defiles you, so many who want to work with God don’t want to be involved in the secular world. This is sadly not true.

“I struggled for some time with shame for I thought I had abandoned my calling as a missionary when I went full-time into business. I was even branded in such a shameful way.

“Then I realised God saw me still as a full-time missionary who conducts business, and that the business is merely a means in order to live out my calling.

“Think about it this way. How do you see your business? Do you see your calling as being a mere lawyer? Or a doctor? We need to change our mindset. We should see our business or our vocation as our mission field.

“We must therefore explore how God can use our business, or our trade or our skills to advance His Kingdom.”

Riaan Engelbrecht

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