We asked eight people who have got involved in BAM in the last 5 years to share how they got launched and how well they landed. We asked them:
- What helped propel you towards business as mission?
- Was there anything that held you back that you had to overcome?
- What were some of the most important things you did to prepare to launch?
- Did any gaps in your know-how or preparation come to light as you landed?
Part 1: What helped propel you towards business as mission?
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. 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. – Ben and Yumi, Vietnam [have been operating a software development company for 18 months, before that they spent 10 months intentionally preparing to do BAM, 4 months in their home country and 6 months in Vietnam]
Partners Worldwide has been introducing this concept and I heard about it. It was an idea that was developing in my mind but when I heard it from Partners it became very clear that this was the way any Christian or even non Christian should run their business. It helped maximize Kingdom impact and also helped the business flourish as well. BAM has been a game changer for me in many different ways. – Daniel, Haiti [transitioned his company to being a BAM-focused company 2 ½ years ago, he spent 2 years before that preparing to do BAM]
The BAM track at Urbana conference in St. Louis, Missouri, USA helped me a lot by allowing me to meet the people who shaped my life and mentored me. This growth in networking and asking questions helped me to better understand the idea of BAM and propelled me to start reading, traveling, and eventually doing BAM in Nepal. I was quite intentional once I caught the vision. I felt God leading me towards this in my life and so I pursued it fervently to the point of actually going and trying to grow BAM companies. – Jacob, Nepal [has been working for PacMoore in Kathmandu, Nepal for 3 ½ years, after 2 years of God preparing him to go]
In 2005 I went to a summer project aimed at mobilizing college students to cross cultural missions. There I was impacted and effectively mobilized by the Biblical basis for mission laid out in the Perspectives course. I found myself inspired by the speakers stories and feeling like business was the best way for me to engage in God’s global mission. I had grown up around business and was studying a hybrid business-engineering program. I started a business in college that was a way for me and my friends to pay our way through college, but it also was a way for us to support global missions. From that point on, we were trying to get overseas and do something similar. We continued to mobilize others through coordinating Perspectives classes and talking to everyone we knew. We were always recruiting a for our future team and dreaming of where we might go and what we might do. We began pursuing different mission agencies and inquiring about what they were doing in the realm of BAM. Most were still in the process of figuring out BAM themselves, so we ended up joining a small startup organization and team to help them pilot a BAM venture. – Steven, Thailand [co-founded a BAM company 3 years ago, after 2 years of language learning, he spent 5 years before that growing a startup and getting ready to go overseas]
We started as a nonprofit youth center and ran out of funding. We decided to see the lack of funds as an opportunity to reach our goal to leave this project with national counterparts. It was our hope that our little cafe could keep the whole place running without outside funds and even better provide for local people of our community. Another major aim was to set an example of a Godly work ethic and model how to do Christian life in the workplace – this was in response to a lack of understanding about this in the Christian community here. – Julia, Mongolia [has been doing BAM for 3 years ‘on purpose’ in Mongolia after 18 months of working on a not-so-BAM-intentional version of the cafe]
There were two things that propelled me toward business as mission. The first thing was a weekly prayer meeting with three other young professionals who wanted to grow in faith/work integration. We would spend half of our time praying out loud and half of our time listening to God and then keeping each other accountable as God gave us steps of faith to take. The other main thing that propelled us specifically toward BAM was seeking a healthy intersection between my wife and my passion for missions and deep desire to use the gifts God has given us in business. – Evan, Thailand [is now transitioning to work at management level in a BAM company after working in BAM mobilising and training for 2 years]
First of all, it was the coming of Patrick Lai to Brazil to spread the BAM vision. It was at that time, about 4 years ago, that I began to understand that I could serve God using my professional experience. Then, businessasmission.com and Lausanne articles and papers helped me to have a better understanding about BAM. Finally, a visit to the field, talking face to face with experienced BAM practitioners and mobilizers, increased even more my comprehension of BAM in practice. – Sergio, Brazil [is employed in a large corporation and has also been working in a BAM mobilisation team since he heard about BAM, he and his wife are now intentionally preparing to be practitioners]
The most important thing was a sense of calling. Without knowing that God really was preparing and calling us as a family to this field – and getting affirmation from those that I trusted – we wouldn’t have made it. Secondly, was having a complete transformation in my thinking about what I considered “ministry” or what success looked like for me. Many of us are discipled into ideologies that are not truly Biblical. I would say this is true regardless of how “missional” someone thinks they are. I would also stress the value and importance of advisors and/or coaches. That is what brought me into the BAM company in Nepal. – Evan, USA [recently moved back to the USA to work in a University setting after working in management in a BAM company in Nepal for 3 years]
by Jo Plummer
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.
With thanks to the BAM practitioners who shared their experiences