Interview with BAM Author Neal Johnson

Neal — you have done all sorts of things in your life, including banking, business, diplomacy and practicing law internationally and in the US, but now you are an academic — what motivates you?

Clearly the thing that motivates me now and has for the past 20 years is my passion for Christ in the marketplace, especially business as mission.  Looking back on my earlier life, I would have given anything if someone had taken me aside and said ‘Neal, have you heard about business as mission? Do you know you can do both business and mission—you don’t have to choose between them—that God is actually calling you to do both?’  So many people of my generation didn’t find that out until they were already well into their careers or toward the end of them.

I have a passion for working with business students now because of the students who say ‘I love business, I love mission, but can I do both?’  I really want them to be able to understand at the start of their career that they can in fact do both and also to show them how they can do that.

Your book “Business as Mission” is a unique BAM book, what made you feel this particular book was needed?

There are a lot of great books on business as mission and many more on faith at work. They are excellent books, but there are not many that really address ‘how to do it’.  As I have presented the concept of business as mission at conferences, people get excited and ask ‘What do I do now? I love the concept, I want to do it, but how do I do it?’ This book attempts to address that. Read more

Financier to the Poor: A Ugandan Entrepreneur

by Doug Seebeck and Timothy Stoner

Timothy Timothy grew up in a small village in the province of Gulu, which is near Uganda’s border with Sudan. His father was a polygamist with three wives. In 1979 Timothy was preparing to go to university when Idi Amin’s removal thrust the country into bloody political and social upheaval. Timothy was not able to pursue his education. At the age of 20 he found work at a Shell gas station in Gulu. He rented a room in a garage and worked at the station for the next six years.

When the rebel coalition that regrouped under the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) became a growing threat, the new government of President Museveni made a natural assumption. Given the country’s history of civil strife between north and south, they assumed that the rebels were receiving sympathy and support from the communities in the north – especially from the people of means and influence. During this period of suspicion and confusion, the army arrested 5,000 people in towns across the north, from Timothy’s tribe – the Acholis – and the neighboring Langi tribe to the east. Many were killed, including one of Timothy’s brothers who was murdered in front of him. In 1988 Timothy was put in a maximum-security prison. Read more

SEA English Academy: A Global Franchise Business

Kim is the founder and co-owner of SEA English Academy, a business that has grown over the last 5 years into a string of international franchises. Kim is driven by a passion for high quality education and equally by the desire to make a positive impact through her business. She is a high profile business woman who seeks to leverage her experience and success to make a difference in her community and in the nations.

A long road to business

Over 30 years ago Kim had a dream which started her on a journey. Her dream was of a woman in Muslim dress, veiled from head to toe, standing in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. She knew it was herself she saw in her dream, living amongst and serving a Muslim community. The dream was so vivid that she knew it was an answer to prayers she’d been praying, asking God to show her what she should focus on, what she should be praying for. It was a seed sown that would eventually take her to places and among people she had never imagined. Through these experiences a love and respect for Muslim peoples would grow in her heart. That passion is still at the core of everything she does. Read more

My Hope for BAM by 2020

by Mats Tunehag

I hope very few people will talk about Business as Mission (BAM) in 2020. The term is like scaffolding: it is needed for a season as we build the real thing, businesses that glorify God and bring about holistic transformation of people and societies.

The term BAM has its merits in clarification of the concept. The term has been helpful in the affirmation of business people and the mobilization of other resources. But the term is not important, the concept and the applications are.

Some people dislike the term or question its usefulness. That is fine with me. Other phrases are also used like business for transformation, Kingdom companies or business as integral calling. These kinds of discussions can be constructive as we pursue a better understanding of the theological, missiological and strategic underpinnings of the concept. But they can also cloud the issue and divert from the task at hand. We also need to remember that even this article highlights a limitation regarding terminology: it is in English.

Thus the term is of secondary or tertiary importance, also acknowledging the above terms may not translate at all or very well into other languages. But my hope for the term Business as Mission to fall into disuse by 2020 goes beyond terminology. Read more

Starting out in Business: Cross-Cultural Lessons from Thailand

by Raimund Homberg

After a happy and enthusiastic start to my business in Thailand, I found myself on an emotional and psychological rollercoaster that turned me after only a few years into another frustrated, disillusioned and burned out “Farang” (foreigner). What happened? I experienced the reality of day-to-day life in Thailand. I perceived that promises were not kept, legal rights not respected and I felt that no-one is trustworthy. All “they” want is my money, I thought. Sound familiar? Yes, I have been there. What to do? I called on the LORD Jesus, and He opened my eyes. Here is my story.

Starting out

I came to Thailand first of all in 1974 and stayed three years. After that I went back to Europe, but returned to Thailand in 1988. Around 1992 I settled in Tak Province in Northern Thailand and developed my business. I ran a small deodorant stone manufacturing and export business with my Thai wife. These were the days before the internet and the era of mobile phones. Many European customers did not know how to source products in Asia and they were more than happy to find a trustworthy partner in Thailand. It was still easy to export from Thailand and I had no problem with sales. But after I opened the business, the experience of dealing with local people, especially government officials, was burning me out. Read more