Business-Mission Sweet Spot
In 2008 my wife and I spent a year travelling and visiting ministries around Asia. Among other things, we visited forty-five cities in eleven countries, slept in sixty-five beds, and crashed one car. This gave us a broad view of the various forms of ministry carried out by dedicated, passionate, and sacrificial people; and also of the monumental challenge of the task that remains.
We noticed two main obstacles to sustainable, growing faith communities taking root. The first and most apparent one is a lack of finances. The second presented itself in different ways, but boils down to church-planters finding it difficult to establish natural connections with the community when entering a new area. Almost every barrier we observed was strongly related to one of these issues.
We also had the opportunity to attend an event on transformational businesses, where we were exposed to a starkly different reality. Not only did these businesses positively impact their communities, they did it through providing goods and services their communities were happy to pay for.
I realised that businesses like these could be designed to create an intersection between natural connections with the community and financial provision. In that sweet spot is huge potential for overcoming many of the barriers we find in missions today.
Over the past few years, I have seen and met:
- a mission to a Central Asian country whose business provided employment to hundreds and ended up reforming the tax system of the country.
- an indigenous pastor who started a café that provides him great connections with his community and a non-threatening venue for people to come to for church.
- a missionary who is running a manufacturing plant in the most closed country in the world today.
- many others who are offering spiritual as well as physical and financial hope and having great impact on their communities.
Just like any emerging concept or movement, there is a learning curve and some resistance to change. However, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything within it” (Psalm 24:1), and the signs are that he is mobilising his business resources in a greater way for his mission today!
Kevin is a World Outreach International Mission Partner, who serves in a support role to field personnel. He and his wife, Jeh Sie, and their two daughters reside in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.