Business is on Mission Around the Globe

by João Mordomo

Recently, a friend of mine said, “It’ll be great when there are some BAM success stories to talk about.” I couldn’t conceal the shocked look in my eyes as I began to open up his eyes to the reality — yes, reality! — of current BAM successes. But it would have been much easier if I could have simply handed him a book and said, “Read this!” Or pointed him to a short, powerful video series on business and wealth creation. Or recommended some deeply thoughtful and biblical reports about how wealth creation is a key tool in bringing Gospel transformation to the poorest and least-reached people and peoples of the world. Or explained how an entire BAM ecosystem is developing in one of the largest countries in the world!

Now I can. (And so can you.) Over the past two years, the Lausanne Business as Mission Issue Network, together with BAM Global, has been busy producing and providing an assortment of resources related to BAM and wealth creation that are now available in multiple formats and languages. I want to share about a few of them.

Let’s start with a book called BAM Global Movement: Business as Mission Concepts & Stories, written by Gea Gort and Mats Tunehag. Gort is an author, journalist and missiologist who researches, speaks and writes about subjects such as BAM. Tunehag is a global ambassador for business as mission, a co-founder of BAM Global, and a former Lausanne Catalyst. Together they have done a tremendous service by assembling case studies that reflect all sorts of good and God-honoring BAM diversity, be it geographical, denominational, strategic, or in the sheer variety and scope of business activities and arenas. From Europe to Africa to Asia to the Americas, Gort and Tunehag take the reader on a global journey, stopping in on BAM practitioners and BAM activities that are bringing spiritual, economic, social and even environmental transformation to people and communities all over the world.

Throughout the journey Gort and Tunehag weave in some robust biblical underpinnings and teach BAM best practices (and even a few “not-so-best” ones!). They and their collaborators help the reader understand the importance of entrepreneurship and investing and incubating and accelerating, and that while BAM is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it nonetheless is a very real and relevant part of God’s plan to be glorified by engaging His whole Body — the “laity” as much or even more than the “clergy” —  to tackle and transform issues of poverty and justice and the lack of Gospel access. This book is an excellent introduction to BAM and useful both for personal benefit as well as teaching in the classroom.

And speaking of classrooms, Lausanne has launched an exciting initiative called the Lausanne Global Classroom. One of the first ‘Classrooms’ is on Wealth Creation, based on the Consultation on Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation, which took place in March of 2017, with about 30 participants from 20 nations, primarily from the business world, and also from church, missions and academia.

Over one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990 — more people in a shorter amount of time than ever before in history — due largely to job and wealth creation through small and medium sized businesses. We understand wealth creation to be a holy calling, a God-given gift, commended in the Bible, and a powerful means to eradicate poverty and transform lives, communities, societies and nations for the glory of God. The Wealth Creation Global Classroom is evidence and fruit of this belief. It consists of 13 video lessons, totalling about 45 minutes, based on teaching and interviews with the specialists who participated in the consultation.

Additional fruit from the Wealth Creation Consultation includes seven ground-breaking reports — including Wealth Creation and Justice, Wealth Creation and the Poor, and Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation. You can also read the one page Wealth Creation Manifesto which: calls the church to embrace wealth creation as central to our mission of holistic transformation of peoples and societies; calls for fresh, ongoing efforts to equip and launch wealth creators to that end; and calls wealth creators to persevere and diligently use their God-given gifts to serve God and people.

Brazil is an excellent case in point, an example of what can happen when Christian business professionals begin to understand business as a calling and wealth creation as a godly gift. The BAM vision has been promoted in numerous ways in Brazil since 2001, and then plodded along for nearly 15 years. If we use the “diffusion of innovation” theory as our guide, BAM was solidly in the first phase (“innovators”) of the inverted bell curve, slowly becoming discovered and embraced by key leaders in business, education, mission agencies, and churches, but not by the church at large.

However, in the past three years, we’ve seen a fairly quick uptick in interest, acceptance and utilization of BAM. In other words, it seems that BAM is now entering the second phase (“early adopters”) of innovation theory. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest this. So much, in fact, that a seminal BAM ecosystem is now clearly visible in Brazil:

From the “B” (of BAM) perspective, we can find events to encourage Kingdom and BAM entrepreneurship (similar to “startup weekends”), as well as recently founded BAM incubators, accelerators, and investment funds. There is a growing number of professional services — for example, legal and accounting — becoming available that have a Kingdom mindset and desire to serve BAM goals. There are dozens of Christian-owned businesses that are intentionally moving in the direction of becoming BAM businesses. There are at least two universities that are actively supporting Kingdom business and BAM projects.

From the historical “M” community side, there is a rapidly growing number of churches and mission agencies — as well as the Brazilian Association of Cross-Cultural Missions itself — that are embracing BAM and training and equipping BAM practitioners.

After many years of planting seeds, BAM Brasil was born – an extension of the BAM Global and Lausanne BAM networks – and the first-ever ‘congress’, the Congresso BAM Brasil took place in Maringá, Brazil from November 1st to 4th, 2018. With around 300 people present from all regions of Brazil, and representing four key spheres of interest (business, academia, mission agencies and churches), the congress was by all measures a resounding success. In the wake of the congress, BAM Brasil continues to work to invigorate the BAM movement in and from Brazil. 

If you are feeling envious of those who participated in the BAM Congress in Brazil a few months ago, I’ve got good news for you. The second Business as Mission Global Congress is scheduled to take place in Thailand from 29 April to 3 May, 2020. Mark your calendars!

In the words of Mike Baer, one of the early leaders in the modern Business as Mission movement, “We exist to support church planting among the unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window through the seamless integration of business as mission.” Today — two decades into a movement that truly has become global — we see that BAM is capable of being more than that, but it is never less than that. May God continue to bless and use business for the sake of His great name, in all areas of every society, and among all peoples of the world.

Joao Bio Pic 100Dr. João Mordomo is co-founder and president of CCI-Brasil, a global church planting movement among unreached peoples. João serves variously as owner, managing director and board member of several BAM companies, and serves in several BAM leadership roles including at COMIBAM, BAM Global and Lausanne.

 

 

Cover - BAM Global Movement“Thankfully, there are now many authors who have written on the theology of business and its importance in God’s kingdom. However, the variety of examples and stories in this book truly bring it to life in a way that is clear and compelling. It is time that God’s purpose for business becomes a global movement!” Bonnie P. Wurzbacher, Former Senior Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company, Chief Resource Development Officer, World Vision International

“This is BAM at its best, TED Talk style. Topics are discussed briefly and then followed by practical cases studies that most any church or organization can identify with. These stories show that there is not only one way of doing BAM or running one kind of BAM business. If you read the book just for the case studies, it would be worth the price. If anyone still questions the importance of business as mission in reaching the world and value of integrating faith and work, read this book!”Patrick Lai, OPEN Network

 

 

Central Asia: Disciple-Making in the Marketplace

In the world of “Business 4 Transformation” we often seem to be enamoured with outward appearance, even though we know that we should be striving for lasting fruit (which usually does not go hand in hand with glitz and glory!) In Kazakhstan, we are facing a similar challenge as the last 10 years have been a time where people have been tested, somewhat by persecution but more so by the coming of the glitz of wealth that believers were not well equipped to deal with. As a result, many are not walking with the Lord and the need for ordinary business people who live like Jesus (even just a little like Jesus) in the marketplace remains a huge need, in order to see expansion of the Kingdom of God in the nation.

Kazakhstan is a largely bi-vocational country where paid pastors remain a small minority. But how do you make a living and do ministry where there are few good examples of Godly business people to follow? Business people are beginning to be seen as legitimate believers within the national church, which is a big change in recent years.

After many years of working in Central Asia, I believe the greatest need is such a simple one that it is often overlooked.  We have so many methods, but the Scriptures say simply, “Go and make disciples.” This is simple but the results are so stunning. We are called to go deep into a disciple’s life with the truth of Scripture, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded”. This may sound simple, but it takes lots of effort. In obeying this command, I will be inconvenienced and there will be setbacks as we encounter life’s problems. But, it is so rewarding to see disciples taking hold of the Scriptures for themselves – and then repeating it with another person! Read more

13 BAMers Share: Why Engaging in Missional Business is Important for Southeast Asia

We ask BAM practitioners – both nationals and expats – all over Southeast Asia to share why they think missional business is vital for their nation, and why they are doing what they are doing. Here is what they told us:

 

Missional Business in Myanmar is very important because business opens so many doors where traditional missions doesn’t. I’ve shared my faith with non-believers more since doing business than when I was teaching youth ministry to local pastors. I think when you work in a country like Myanmar where there is no middle class there are huge opportunities for poverty alleviation through business and also engaging the rich in business as well. I’ve had amazing open opportunities to talk with the wealthy, government, and poor communities. Missional Business is so important for the gospel in a country like Myanmar.

Ryan – from the USA, doing business in Myanmar

 

Engaging in “Missional Businesses” in Myanmar is very needed for both aspects: mission and business. We have had social mission strategies before. But the fusion of business and mission is a new effective way to reach people in the workplace.

Sang Sang – from Myanmar, doing business in Myanmar Read more

The Opportunities and Challenges for BAM In and From China

China’s economic growth of eight to ten percent annually for the last twenty years, creates an ideal commercial environment for business as mission within China. There are many opportunities for doing business and large amounts of foreign investment available. At the same time, as one BAM practitioner in China has noted, “China has one of the largest unreached populations in the world, business is a significant channel for Christians to effectively impact countless people and help set them free from sin.”

In the BAM Global Think Tank Report the opportunities and challenges of doing business as mission both in and from China are shared. These observations from surveys, case studies and a SWOT analysis confirm great potential for BAM in and from China. However, the Chinese mission movement is still growing into maturity and experience of business as mission is very new. The Chinese church both inside mainland China and overseas has a long way to go to fully understand and embrace the strategy of business as mission. They must learn from their own difficult experiences and also connect with the wider BAM movement in order to be more effective for the future. Read more

Business as Mission from Australia and New Zealand

It is usually a mistake to lump Australia and New Zealand together! Each is quite different in characteristic from the other and each enjoys a bit of friendly joking about the other, as well as a fierce sporting rivalry. However, one thing they do have in common is that both Australians and New Zealanders have been among BAM pioneers, with a steady interest in business as mission growing in each country. We ask two BAM friends from each nation to share about their involvement:

 

Our journey in BAM started when I was fired from the position I was working in with a mission agency in Nepal. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened. That was 2000. We started a software company, and slowly grew until we now have a staff of 12 in Nepal, 5 in New Zealand and 3 in other countries. We make software for managing pharmaceutical supply chains, which is now used in about 30 countries.

Right from the start we had a strong sense of rightness about starting down this path, and when it’s been tough we’ve hung on to that. It’s a good thing to have. Here are a few things we’ve reflected on along the way:

Things are fragile, especially at the start. A change of mind here, the stroke of a pen there, and we would have a very different story to tell. It’s good to remember this when we start to feel that we’re pretty good at what we do, and good to remember when others fail – it’s not always in our hands. Read more

Transformational Business in Haiti [Video]

Daniel Jean-Louis speaks about the challenges and opportunities of Business as Mission in Haiti in an interview with Roxanne Addink de Graaf.

For more on BAM in Haiti, read the BAM Global Think Tank Report Business as Mission in Haiti.

This video was recorded at the BAM Global Congress in April 2013. Read more

BAM 2779: Following the Brazilian Business as Mission Journey

by João Mordomo

License plates in Brazil are a combination of three letters and four numbers. For decades, the license plates in my state, Paraná, have begun with “A”. Recently, however, the increasing number of vehicles on the road has pushed us into unchartered territory. All new plates begin with, you guessed it, “B”. The current system allows the plates in our state to range from AAA 0001 to BEZ 9999. In the past couple of weeks, I couldn’t help but notice an increasing number of new cars on the road whose plates begin with “BAM”. At first it was just one or two, but now it’s increasingly common to see BAM plates everyday. As of the last week of May, there were at least 2779 of them!

There seems to be a parallel with “business as mission” BAM as well. Blame it on innovation theory if you want, but the fact is that BAM is finally, and noticeably, gaining a foothold here in the world’s fifth largest country. We’ve moved from the innovation phase to the early adopter phase, and this is evidenced in numerous ways. Just a few of the BAM developments we are now seeing on the road to spiritual, social and economic transformation include:

BAM Conferences

The concept of BAM first showed up on the Brazilian church’s radar at the 3rd Brazilian Congress on Missions (CBM), in 2001, in the form of a 15 minute overview given by a global BAM statesman. The first BAM event in Brazil was held a year later, in Curitiba, with a few dozen people (and the same statesman). Then every year or two another event would take place, in addition to the seminars offered at the 5th, 6th and 7th CBMs in 2008, 2011 and 2014. In just the past two years, however, we’ve seen events take place not only in Curitiba, but also in other major cities such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Vitoria, and others — and these have been larger and tackling a more diverse range of BAM issues. Several international networks such as Lausanne, BAM Global and Open B4T (as well as several marketplace ministry and tentmaking networks), have been instrumental in helping develop “BAM Brazil” in many of these locations. Read more

Six BAM Views from the Continent of Africa

We asked people working on the front-lines of BAM in different parts of Africa to share some of their experiences and perspectives. They see business as a powerful means to share the message of the Gospel in the marketplace, deepen the impact of Jesus’ teachings on society, tackle evils such as poverty and corruption and mobilise the next generation of African Christians to transform their own nations. Here are six BAM views from Africa:

 

BAM is crucial in South Africa as a key to two major challenges: discipleship and economic empowerment. South Africa is said to have a high percentage of Christians, however, like many other parts of the world, sin is a key challenge. Corruption, sexual immorality, crime and other evils are on the rise, indicating that Christianity has not been making the kind of impact on society as it should. Business as mission could therefore provide an avenue for regular discipleship in the marketplace, as believers model Godly character and leadership.

South Africa also has a high percentage of poor people, although it is Africa’s most advanced economy. BAM – especially ‘BAM at the base of the pyramid’ – may be the key to large scale sustainable economic empowerment, particularly through the establishment of SME sized companies in rural areas.

Henry Gwani is originally from Nigeria, now working in BAM in South Africa Read more

Kingdom Impact in Kenya: How Sinapis Equips African Entrepreneurs

Sinapis was founded in Kenya in 2010 with a mission to empower aspiring entrepreneurs in the developing world with innovative, scalable business ideas by providing them with a rigorous, Christ-centered business education, world-class consulting and mentoring services and access to seed capital. Through these means, they strive to create Christ-seeking business leaders, sustainable employment and an improved quality of life for many that they may glorify God in service of His people.

Sinapis runs an Entrepreneurship Training Program that includes 16 weeks of curriculum that covers customers, financials, human resources, operations and Kingdom Business. Upon completing the program, members of each graduating class are invited to submit their business plans to Sinapis. After a thorough selection process, entrepreneurs with the highest potential proceed to Sinapis’ annual Business Plan Competition, a live pitch event that brings together business owners, investors and other individuals in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and culminates with one entrepreneur winning a $10,000 grant. Outstanding finalists in the Business Plan Competition advance into an intensive 6-month accelerator program known as the Fast Track Fellows Program. Entrepreneurs in this program benefit from key resources such as customized mentorship from successful business owners, professional advising from experts in law, branding, accounting, etc., and one-on-one support from world-class management consultants. For those ready to raise investment capital, Sinapis matches them with early and growth stage investors. Read more

Business as Mission: A Perspective from Africa [Video]

Dennis Tongoi speaks about the opportunities for Business as Mission in the continent of Africa.

This video was recorded at the BAM Global Congress in April 2013. Read more