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
We need to go against the flow of corruption, bribery and massive social issues of income disparity. We can’t just do ‘business as usual’ by not rethinking the purpose of God. Why has He entrusted us with business or professional influence? That’s why missional business should be cultivated by every believer in the marketplace here in Indonesia, to transition from ‘success to significance’. We need to work out how to use our business and profession for greater good and lasting impact.
Julian – from Indonesia, doing business in Indonesia
I knew God was calling us to this tough Islamic area and I could see no options to stay here. Being a student was unrealistic, no schools here, no tourism, really no foreigners or even people from within the country that had crossed the people group divide and moved up here. I saw business in some form as the only way I could stay where I felt God leading (initially). This then led me to start many small projects, some being almost more community development, but it did get me a valid role in society and opened many doors for me. Then later after the December 2004 tsunami and earthquake, there was a tremendous need. It was a natural disaster on the scale the world had not experienced before. Everyone had more money than they knew what to do with or could responsibly use. I used business to help facilitate this disaster response. I set up an ISP and provided internet for much of the city and many organisations, including the UN for a season. This was a tremendous help to everyone working here (I was a hero and they paid me well to do this!) I also in this time started a construction company and built over 3,300 homes in five years. We did good quality work, guaranteed everything, paid workers well and trained many hundreds of unskilled workers in a skill they could make a living at. Most are still doing this today. I just met some of them yesterday. I actually ran 14 businesses like this at the same time for a period of four to five years. Paying locals well, giving life skill training to the poor, doing a good quality job, guaranteeing work, just being pleasant and doing what we could to help were all things in very short supply after this disaster. We used business here to be a blessing in every way we could think of to the local community.
James – from the USA, doing business in Indonesia. More about James’ story
BAM in Malaysia opens up doors into communities that are difficult or impossible to enter. Over the past four years we have seen much more fruit working in BAM than we have the previous ten years working under a more traditional platform. There are numerous possibilities for us to come beside Kingdom-minded businesses to incorporate key BAM principles into their businesses for increased fruitfulness.
Steve – from the USA, doing business in Malaysia
Growing up in Malaysia, minorities can be subject to various forms of discrimination and prejudice. I left Malaysia at the age of 13 and returned briefly in 1996 and 2002. In 2003, I heard a pastor prophesy that he saw ‘flames’ of the Spirit all over Malaysia, and I thought to myself, “Here? This nation is seems so closed, how would that be possible?”. Once again, unjust practices and discrimination I experienced, helped me make a mental note to not return to this country. However, while I was abroad, I felt that God was tugging at my heart, whispering, ask me to do more. In 2009, after many years of being discouraged about the state of affairs in Malaysia, instead of complaining from afar, I decided I should come back and make a change, be a changemaker. I began working with Khazanah Nasional Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund until 2011, when I felt the time had come for me to stop pursuing what I desired and focus instead on His desires. In 2013, I founded Earth Heir. So here I am, praying for those flames to appear all over this nation.
Sasi – from Malaysia, doing business in Malaysia
The world’s second largest producer of coconuts is the Philippines, representing 33% of farm land, 50% of agricultural exports, and 10% of the national workforce. However, even with the market growth for coconut products, coconut farmers average below The Philippines poverty line, forcing mothers or fathers to migrate for work in the big cities or abroad. This is a seedbed for trafficking and abuse while their absence fractures families. Kingdom Business has a unique opportunity to mend broken families and restore dignity to these poor, rural communities through meaningful jobs and fair trade.
Erik – from the USA, doing business in the Philippines. More about Dignity Coconuts story
Doing a business is important as it gives you great flexibility for reaching a wide variety of people. Doing business more easily allows you to get multiple work permits and work visas whereas NGOs struggle to renew projects in order to remain in country for more than three years. Qualified people with degrees are also required to fill these positions. Foreigners working for NGOs are more heavily watched and at times raise questions from authorities when meeting with people outside of their project realm or supplier network. Businesses typically have many more freedoms with regards to who they meet or who visits their business. Businesses typically employ more people than NGOs and are more easily able to grow, employing more and more people. They are seen as essential and valuable, participating in what happens daily to sustain life. Profitable businesses are also able to contribute back to local needs, whereas NGO projects typically have predesignated budgets that restrict where they can assist financially. A business like ours puts over half a million US dollars a year into the official tax accounts which also helps economically. Business bless others as well as the economy!
P. – from Canada, doing business in Laos
My wife and I are entrepreneurs; we’ve had other careers but early in our marriage God led us back to our sweet spot. Our lives naturally engage a wide range of Thai people giving us opportunities to purposefully live out Christ in word and deed. We need to daily, purposefully choose to engage all who cross our path being Jesus’ ambassadors. We do what we do to the best of our ability, maximizing and multiplying what we have been blessed with. We choose not to compartmentalize our lives or separate out the different areas of who we are, but rather holistically blend all of who we are into one. Business is not more important than discipleship, which is no more important than our private time, which is no more important than friendships. The early church’s examples of business people should challenge BAMers and Christ-followers in business in their home country to be holistic in their approach to life.
V&K – from Canada and Thailand, doing business in Thailand
Vietnam is a young dynamic country. We are now called ourselves a “Startup” country, and as a startup people we want to invest as much as we can in learning new things. Business is a big mission field in Vietnam, businessmen and women are so hungry to learn especially at this time. I realize they are so open and teachable. If we have people that are equipped we can reach them easily. Doing business we can touch a lot more lives, just in our market. But we need to provide the best products and services.
Cuong – from Vietnam, doing business in Vietnam
Because the Vietnamese churches are poor, the missional business (like Family Business Training) are very important. They can help the Christians have profit to support their family and their churches and so the Vietnamese churches will not depend on the support from outside the country. Business people can grow up in their spiritual thinking, changing their physical life and they can support their church. FBT does not just give Christians a fish, but teaches them how to catch the fish! Please pray for our ministry FBT.
Bich – from Vietnam, doing business in Vietnam
We were working professionals for a long time and felt we reached a certain level of accomplishment in our career and knew it was time for a change. When we decided we wanted to move abroad, we looked at ways on how we could have the greatest impact and found that running a business can hugely benefit a community on many different levels as well as give ministry opportunities we otherwise would not be presented with. God began to speak to us about instead of building a business that would make us rich and glorify us, instead to build a business that was about relationships that would glorify God and make Him known while being profitable to meet real needs of the people, and ours as well. Also, starting a business felt the most authentic way for us to truly become “immigrants” in our new home country and displayed our commitment to the locals that we were serious and in this for the long haul. We are in awe of the open doors and the impact our small company is making within the various level of government and within the IT community.
Ben and Yumi – from North America and Japan, doing business in Vietnam. More about Ben and Yumi’s story
Forty years after a genocide where there has been no restitution, followed by the second most corrupt regime in Asia, the result is a society where corruption is seen as the route to prosperity and honor. A profitable company that demonstrates radically different values – like trust, personal value and innovation – to its employees and all stakeholders and that challenges established business practices is able to change perceptions of what right and wrong is. This is what we are doing in Cambodia, our motto for Web Essentials is “Developing Software, Developing People”.
Jon – from the USA, doing business in Cambodia
With thanks to all the BAMers in Southeast Asia who shared with us.
BAM is a global phenomenon. God is on the move around the world, calling men and women from all continents to start businesses for His Kingdom purposes. To highlight just some of what He is doing, and emphasise that business as mission is a global movement, we will take a tour around the BAM world for the next six weeks or so. We hope you enjoy the trip!