Impacting communities by bringing jobs and dignity!
What other businesses do you think could provide TBL transformation?
Every person in the world spends the majority of time at their place of work.
Utilizing business as a method to effectively love and express the redemption of Christ through fair labor treatment and positive management correlates to increased personal contact with individuals out-of-touch with God’s calling for their life.
Additionally, business is applicable in virtually every part of the world. Many missional correspondents are realizing that impactful change is best initiated at a level that affects an individual’s bottom line.
One leader from Croatia explained that, “Sending us missionaries is good, but we'd prefer that you send us godly businessmen, who can teach us and help us to start businesses and create jobs in a Christ-like way."
An individual will know they are truly cared for when the evidence of love is displayed through how they are treated, and how their lives are changed. Impacting someone’s lifestyle and improving their quality of life is fundamental in tangibly illustrating genuine compassion.
The Lausanne Conference articulated the truth behind the difference that economical advancement can have in an individual’s life by outlining the following statistic, “… the richest 20% of the world’s population own approximately 80% of the world’s wealth; whilst the poorest 20% own approximately 1%. There is a tragic correlation between poverty, disease and unemployment.” It is difficult to explain to a financially disadvantaged fellow how important their life is, when they are faced with the belief that their current station in life determines their future. Employment and empowerment through financially profitable work reinvigorates those whose perspective of life is defined by scarcity.
In the western world and other developed nations, it is easy to focus on, “...personal holiness and individual transformation rather than social holiness and societal transformation.” Missional Enterprise however attempts to shift this concentration to envelop a broader perspective of improvement and growth. Business is, “especially good news for the materially and financially poor of this present world.” Those who look outward and see the breadth of impact business can make and who, “…live by biblical principles of work, stewardship, faithfulness and justice will alleviate most causes of human suffering and poverty.”
More and more missional enterprises are experiencing pushback from secular nations against the immersion of foreign ministries. This is largely based on the inability of a traditional missionary to effectively improve the economic climate of a country. Most missionaries are considered “unemployed” persons who fail to contribute to society at large. Business on the other hand, “is a recognized institution in society that brings credibility to relationships with the community as a whole. Thus business brings opportunities to influence and disciple the wider society through the relationships it brings.” This means that the missional entrepreneur, “becomes ‘salt and light’ to the community (or nation) in the marketplace.”
Business practices impact not only the financial climate of nations, but also the physical environment. Environmental stewardship (social impact bottom line) is practiced by BAM operations through, “the types and locations of products fabricated and services rendered, of production methods, of types of resources used, and of the disposal of waste.” In a time when scarce resources are being depleted faster than ever, it is critical to ensure long-term sustainability through cognitively sensitive environmental decisions.
At the core, human beings are relational creatures. This is true in any culture and in every part of the world. The fantastic mystery of the redeeming love of our Lord and Savior is His willingness to die for our sins, and take our burdens upon himself. As Christians, we know that we are fully loved, and ardently accepted. Many who are lost, and in need of The Good News, do not know these truths and fail to see how their lives could ever be worth the sacrifice of another. BAM offers a unique avenue to demonstrating the importance of each individual. “Business restores dignity through creating employment, through righteous and equal treatment in relationships and through empowerment.”
The truth is, the Lord’s Will is done according to His purpose. He does not need us, but He wants us. His burning desire for us transforms life and produces fruit of the heart. There are many ways to show His mercy, and to spread The Gospel. It is important to realize that changing times require changed tactics and revolutionized perspectives. Business was once seen as purely secular. No longer however, is business defined by this restrictive stereotype. In truth, “Business as mission looks beyond a financial bottom line to a ‘multiple bottom line’; taking into account financial, social, spiritual and environmental returns.”
As defined by the Lausanne Conference, and the practical application of BAM operations thriving throughout the world today, “The real bottom line of business as mission is AMDG - ad maiorem Dei gloriam – for the greater glory of God.”
- GEN Desk Intern
For more information on the Lausanne Movement and BAM visit:
Tunehag, Mats, Wayne McGee, and Josie Plummer, eds. "Business Goals And Mission Analysis." Business As Mission (2008): 1-88. Lausane Occasional Paper No. 59. Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. Web. 24 July 2015.
"What We Do." Transformational Ventures. Tranformational Ventures, n.d. Web. 24 July 2015.
A violent civil war breaks into your city. You are fortunate enough to connect with relatives in America, and you flee to their city to begin a new life. However, your troubles are far from over.
Generous social services, a stream of low skill jobs, and growing family networks have made my neighborhood a place of refuge for such refugees. Still, they face significant hardship.
Mothers are most vulnerable to the trials of refugee life. Many are the sole providers for their families. Their husbands either divorced them or were killed in the civil war back home.
Most jobs here are suited for men, and those suited for women often require English language proficiency—a significant hurdle for refugee mothers, who struggle to attend classes because they are already stretched thin by a houseful of children and a shoestring budget.
Cultural tensions plague the homes of these women as well. It has been a significant challenge for their families to retain cultural identity and religious devotion under the clouds of economic hardship, social stigma, and extremist and gang recruiting.
Our family moved into this predominantly immigrant neighborhood in 2011. We were overwhelmed with our first children, and our hearts went out to the single mothers who were facing the hardships of parenting alone in a foreign country.
To my dismay, this community was not nearly as interested in receiving our help as we were in giving it. My attempts at coffee shop conversations were met with blunt rejection. People would leave the room the minute I walked in the door.
After three years of gradual progress, I discovered the entrepreneurial spirit of my new neighbors. This became my key to Kingdom-oriented community development and my inroad to Gospel-centered relationships.
I began consulting ethnic restaurant owners about Western foodservice standards. The people that once avoided me began to warmly welcome me for hours of conversation about their business practices and family lives. They even honored me with a seat in their Chamber of Commerce.
Having built up this momentum, I began taking action on my vision of providing stable, dignified employment for single mothers of the community. My business partner and I, a mother of this group, are beginning a food distribution company that will soon employ nearly a dozen single refugee mothers.
Our prayer is to see these single mothers find strength and purpose in this dignified work and in the Gospel so that their homes and communities may be uplifted in the light of Christ.
– GEN Desk Contributing Writer, Nations Within Staff, and ERW Alumni
As I walked down the hill out of the abject poverty of the Roma (Gypsy) district in a southern Bulgaria town, my stomach began to turn. The smell, the filth, and the despair were all overwhelming. While trying to keep my stomach content where it belonged, I prayed.
Noticeably, I sensed Jesus saying, “I am up there.”
My perspective changed. The powerful filth and smell suddenly dissipated. Jesus was present and his promises alive, even in the lowliest of places, to redeem and restore people who are precious in his sight. And He’s inviting laborers to bring His kingdom to these undesirable places.
This experience was at the tail end of a seminar on social enterprise sponsored by The Navigators’ Global Enterprise Network in Central and Eastern Europe. Over 50 Europeans sought input from Christian experts in social enterprise from around the US and Europe. Everyone was united on how to bring the hope of the Gospel and answers to address the desperate poverty.
Two themes emerged:
In post-Christian secularized Europe, the Bible has been discarded as old-hat. There is rampant mistrust toward the church. Pastors and missionaries have no respect in society. And generally the Gospel is seen as wishful thinking.
Everyday life is the greatest opportunity to share about Christ. But in order for this to happen, the messenger needs to be normal to the listener. A key means for the messenger to gain this heart access is through enterprise. When followers of Jesus own and run enterprises, they are afforded opportunities to be Jesus in everyday life to everyday people and bring real answers to things like poverty through work.
An added bonus: We’ve discovered that when you connect a secularized person with the needs of the poor or marginalized, that person starts asking questions about the meaning of life, purpose, and faith. Throwing open the doors for the answers found in the truths of the Gospel. Enterprises aiming to help people in need become a vehicle for the Gospel to be demonstrated.
Currently, the Global Enterprise Network in Europe is starting and supporting enterprises that serve handicapped children, provide jobs for the homeless and addicts, and promote education for Roma children. We long for greater impact as the movement grows. After all, Jesus is there among the desperately needy.
- GEN Consultant
GEN Desk Commentary –
What kind of enterprise do you feel would best help address poverty?