Dream Big Things from God, and then Accomplish Big Things for God
“Now glory be to God, by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20 (LB)
What are you dreaming about these days? Does it seem like an impossible task? Is it a big dream that you could give your life to? Then maybe that dream is from God! Two years ago, Navigator Ralph Gatti began to dream about having a L´Abri type of center in Central Europe that could be a think-tank for the Global Enterprise Network (GEN), the Navigators expression of business as mission, where interested entrepreneurs from around the world could come and dream about how to carry out the great commission in the marketplace where they live. It seemed an impossible dream. It would require all the Navigators in a city coming together to support such a center, hosting visitors from around the world. It would mean putting together a robust curriculum of the current thought in the business as mission movement while still holding true to the Navigators vision, mission and core. And of course, it would take financial support to get the center up and running. Could such a dream become a reality?
Thankfully, God is into the impossible. The Agathe Center for Entrepreneurship, just an idea in the hearts of our Navigator family in Central and Eastern Europe over the last eighteen months, is now “open for business” in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Agathe Center is a ministry of the Navigators dedicated to serving committed laborers from around the world who want to advance the kingdom of God through missional enterprise. The founders of the Agathe Center believe that businesses should not only make a profit, but also change society for good. That is why it is called the Agathe Center for Entrepreneurship - in Greek, "Agathe" means "Good". The mission is to provide holistic support to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs as they know Christ and make Him known.
Bratislava, Slovakia was chosen as it has been a focal point for missional enterprise over the past twenty-five years. There are experienced practitioners to draw upon, as well as good business examples in the city to study in order to understand what a missional enterprise should look like. God, in His goodness, has also brought together a great international team and provided a space well-equipped to meet the needs of the center. Those who serve at the Agathe Center are convinced that an enterprise should hold in creative tension the priorities of a triple bottom line: financial sustainability, social impact, and spiritual transformation. The center services include mentoring and coaching, trainings and seminars, as well as intensive immersion experiences that involve spending extended time with the Agathe team. You can read more about each of these services at the Agathe Center website. The goal is to make personalized, individualized training and consulting available at no charge to entrepreneurs intent on advancing the Kingdom of God through business and social enterprise platforms.
If you or someone you know would like to know more about utilizing the Agathe Center’s services, you can engage with Agathe through the website to start the process. The Agathe Center is now ready to receive “clients” and begin the in-depth work of helping young and aspiring missional entrepreneurs build businesses that advance the Kingdom. Whether the enterprise has already been launched, or is still just a dream, the Agathe Center can help move it forward to the next level. “Come and See” what God has done and how He will use the Agathe Center to advance His Kingdom around the world. God has accomplished what Ralph dared to ask or even dream of, and He has done the work infinitely far beyond Ralph´s highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes.
The Navigator’s calling is simple yet very profound,
To advance the Gospel of Jesus and his Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost.
The last part has an interesting word: “living”. To some this would mean “where you live”, yet I believe it has bigger implications. I believe this word means “your entire life” or “as you live”. If this is the case then we are to be making disciples where we live, where we play, and even where we work. Every part of life.
I began my journey of discovering God in the workplace as I was graduating college. Perfect timing. The commands were quite clear in the Bible: to work heartily as unto the Lord and to do everything for the glory of God (Ephesians 6:5-8 and Colossians 3:22-24). The lost were all around me, so I had no problem believing Jesus when he said the harvest was plentiful. The longer I work (which I’ll admit has not been very long) the more God teaches me about following him in every aspect of my life, even work.
When I went to the Entrepreneurial Readiness Workshop (ERW) I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t have a business idea ready or even have one brewing. Not a feasible one, anyway. Yet I know now that God used that workshop to teach me more about himself. And I don’t have to start a Missional Enterprise to put what I learned into practice!
The triple bottom line is foundational to running a successful Missional Enterprise. Yet this same triple bottom line has the ability to inform everyone’s work from a corporate job to an entrepreneurship.
As an employee your company wants you to make them money. And you should work to contribute to the financial sustainability of the company.
As I mentioned earlier, the marketplace is filled with people who don’t know Jesus. Even if you work in a setting with only believers, spiritual transformation through the Gospel of Jesus is for everyone, saved or not.
While some jobs may have a social impact more directly than others, all businesses impact society in some way. As an employee, you can work to ensure that the impact of your company is positive for the community and society as a whole.
While I don’t know where God is leading me in regards to starting a Missional Enterprise or joining an existing one yet, I am already able to apply lessons from the ERW to my current workplace. How will you bring glory to God in every aspect of your life?
GEN Desk Contributing Author and Nav 20s City Leader
Generations of Business Men and Women, Living and Discipling among the Lost
Back in the 1980´s, the Navigators in Africa began making small loans to help African disciples launch businesses that would provide much needed income for their families. Today, there are hundreds of enterprises across the African continent run by business men and women who have been trained by the Navigators in evangelism and discipleship. With more and more “missional enterprises” springing up, Navigator representative Wanjau Nduba (who resources this network), saw an urgent need to have many more trained mentors and coaches who could help these business practitioners stay focused on a triple bottom line of financial sustainability, spiritual transformation, and social impact. This need led to the birth of an initiative called “Venture Villages”.
After 16 months of development, the first Venture Village was launched in Nairobi, Kenya in November of 2016 as a joint initiative with Naventure (the Navigator African business network led by Wanjau), Agora Enterprises (a US based ministry that promotes international entrepreneurial accelerators), and the Global Enterprise Network (the resource team that serves Navigator missional enterprises around the world). The goal is to launch dozens of successful startup missional entrepreneurs around Africa in the next few years.
One essential ingredient in this Venture Village process is to recruit and train successful Christ-centered entrepreneurs as business coaches and mentors who can walk alongside new and existing Navigator business practitioners. These mentors and coaches will empower Navigator entrepreneurs to stay focused on pursuing the triple bottom line that is being used in the Global Enterprise Network (GEN).
In this first Venture Village nine mentors, who were trained in the techniques of Lean Startup and coaching skills, met bi-weekly with nine aspiring entrepreneurs. Prize money was awarded at the end of the three-month course to the three entrepreneurs with the best business ideas. Investors will be reviewing all nine business plans for potential capital investments. The next Venture Village, which will begin at the end of September 2017, will train a new cohort of mentors to work with more new entrepreneurs so over time there will be a growing number of mentors/coaches to serve the ever-increasing number of missional entrepreneurs in Africa.
The operative principle behind training new business mentors/coaches is Ecclesiastes 4:9 - “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” By having trained business mentors/coaches working with new Christ-centered entrepreneurs to pursue a triple bottom line, God will ensure there will be a good return for their labor. This will enable the gospel to flow out of these businesses into communities around the world as business men and women live out their faith daily in the marketplace.
Says Matt, who trained the coaches, “Our passion is developing missional entrepreneurs to become lifetime laborers who can be fruitful in the marketplace where they will spend most their time.” Feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about how to become an entrepreneurial mentor/coach.
Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Proverbs 24:13
Can sweet, organichoney impact the world for Christ and advance our calling into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost? Is that even possible? Just have a quick conversation with smiling Paul from West Africa, and you will say a resounding “yes!” Paul and his wife, Mary, have an exciting ministry with the farmers of their country. Paul was burdened for the rural poor who had little means of income, including a way to pay for their children´s schooling. In central West Africa, where there are consistent attacks by cattle herdsmen (the remaining active arm of a militant group) on the poor villagers, the possibilities are scarce. As Paul thought and prayed about how to reach these people for Christ and disciple them, he was guided by the philosophy: “Don´t give them fish. Don´t only teach them how to fish. Go fishing with them.” That makes sense to us as Navigators as we walk with people through life, but how could he do this in rural Africa?
One day, after a visit to a beekeeper in Zambia, God gave Paul an idea about beehives. If he could provide beehives to people in the rural villages and let the bees make honey, he could then buy the honey from the people and sell it for a profit. This would create a business that was financially sustainable that could also fund the ministry in the future. If he could organize the villagers into beehive groups, where they could watch over their beehives and be accountable to each other, and if these beehive groups could also double as savings groups that provide a forum for them to save their money, loan it among themselves to start or grow enterprises, and pay their children’s school fees, this would create a business that was having a great social impact. And if he could share stories of Christ in their regular beehive groups, trusting in the Holy Spirit´s work in each heart to bring the person to faith in Him, this business would have a transformational spiritual impact. Thus, the Honey Value Chain Experience was born with grants to Paul from two Navigator sources: the British Navs for the honey processor, and NavPartners Children Mission for the beehives. He began his business under the care of the Africa Navigator Global Enterprise Network (GEN). Paul and Mary serve together in this endeavor as they wrestle through ways to protect the beehives from theft (deciding to give the people the beehives for free), to wrestling through ways to ensure that there is a spiritual generational impact. They carefully watch and pray that the Gospel is shared in a natural way as discipleship is taking place. They have mobilized 233 villagers and are working with them in two groups. Forty-five of these people have either started or are growing their enterprises in West Africa. Five young people are also being discipled and have been trained as apicultural technicians. They have also now trained the six group leaders with Insider skills to be leaders in this transformational ministry. Paul says that the Gospel is shared more frequently now and better understood by the rural people. He and Mary are excited about how God is using sweet, organic honey and His powerful Word to transform lives and advance the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the Nations. His Word is going forth, and it is good!
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103
On a busy corner in Guadalajara, Mexico, the scent of fresh bread beckons pedestrians into a rustic bakery. Once inside, however, the pleasing aroma of Christ draws customers to the bakery's mother and daughter owner-operators, Myriam and Adriana Sanchez.
Rogenbrott was founded in 2014 as a missional enterprise to share Christ among the lost. The Sanchez family had a dream of starting a business where they could use their God-given talents as bakers, provide for their economic needs, and share Christ with others. That is what is happening as God is fulfilling their daily prayer of “Lord, let us be a fragrant scent here; may You be who attends to the true needs of our clients and providers.”
The bakery sells homemade artisan bread to the community, and its impact is felt daily. Clients come in to purchase bread, and are charmed by the family who naturally shares Christ with them. Clients have learned that they can find a listening ear and someone who will pray for them. One client loves coming into the shop because she admires their peace and joy. When asked how they could always be so joyous, mom and daughter responded that it is Christ in them.
The bakery's providers are also being reached with the Gospel. Over the past year, the Sanchez family has developed a relationship with one supplier. Although he comes from a religious family, he didn´t understand the Gospel. The Sanchez family believes in making Jesus known through their daily lives, so it wasn´t long before their provider asked them to pray for his sick relative. They rejoiced together when the relative was restored to health. After, their new friend began to come to them for counsel, and they began studying God´s Word with him. The Sanchezes hope that this is just the first of many who will come to know Jesus as their Savior because of the bread store dedicated to the Lord.
The Gospel is being lived out in this bakery, and the pleasing aroma of Christ is fragrant to all. Will you take a moment and pray for this missional business, for the Sanchez family, and for other businesses serving to make Christ known around the world? “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15 ESV)