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How Not to Be Weird: Living Lives That Make Sense

by Patrick Lai

When we first started working with Muslims we had a traditional approach. We tried to meet people on the streets and in our neighborhood to share the Gospel. We’d ride buses, go to the gym, hang out in parks. When we could get people into a conversation we’d try to turn the discussion to spiritual things and then Jesus. Despite our efforts we did not have great success. 

When we stepped back and considered our approach we realized not many people engage in discussions with strangers in public places. For example, how many lasting friendships do you have that first started on a bus? What we were doing was not natural, it’s not the way people meet other people. Most people build friendships either through their extended family, their place of worship, or their place of work. The way we were meeting people was weird. Read more

Lessons from the Edge: Ingredients for Sustainable Success

Insights from a BAM Practitioner 

‘Andrew’ was in business in China for 8 years and now consults to other BAM companies.

Finding a good fit for you is critical
This business is what you will be doing day in and day out, so it’s really important that you have an idea that you feel passionate about, that you understand how it’s a good fit for you and your goals. Is it a good business for your personal strengths? Business as mission can be really, really hard and finding that good fit will see you through many challenges. If you get into a business just because you have to, it can end up feeling like drudgery.

Don’t do it by yourself
It’s important to have good partners. Build a team or find a partner that has complementary skills to your own. Find partners locally that can work with you, whether it’s locals or other foreigners. I don’t think I would have made it in my own business if I didn’t have a key partner working with me, we kept each other going when the going got rough. Get good people around you and have the right people in the right roles.

Engage advisors
Find good mentors, consultants or advisors. That could look like having regular contact with consultants, finding a specialist mentor, or setting up an advisory board. Advisors might be other business folks in your local context, either foreigners or consultants that are further down the road than you, or local business people. They might be business people, lawyers and other experts from your home church network. One model that we’ve seen work well is to engage several different people from your home church from the beginning of the business. They would help with planning, make some site visits, get to know the local context and the difficulties, so that they can give business advice that is helpful for the situation.

 

Patrick Lai on Mentoring [Book Excerpt]

One of the 11 building blocks of BAM or Business for Transformation (B4T) is “having a good mentor.”  Patrick Lai writes about this in his new book, Business for Transformation – Getting Started new on Amazon this month. Here’s an excerpt on this key topic.

Mentoring – Accountability

My wife has been known to say, “I love ministering. I just wish it didn’t involve people.” Every one of us is a sinner. We each have areas of temptation and sin. We need spiritual elders who will walk alongside us to assist us in maximizing God’s glory in and through us. In many situations, peer accountability is fine, but my research shows peer accountability is less effective than elder accountability. I think this is because peers leading one another are like the blind leading the blind.

In business, most reporting is done verbally, face-to-face. Bosses meet or communicate with their direct reports daily. We want to both see and hear that the work is being done and being done correctly. In business, people do not write up reports about themselves. Whether we are Christian or not, when we write up reports about ourselves, we are revealing only what we want to tell. And if we are honest, most of us view our work and ourselves better than we really are. Read more

Business for Transformation: A New Book by Patrick Lai

B4T Patrick Lai

From the back cover

Business for Transformation focuses on answering the question: “How do you start a business that transforms communities of unreached peoples?” Starting a business cross-culturally involves thousands of decisions. Until now, BAM and B4T practitioners have been lacking a tool that explains how to start a business that engages unreached people for Jesus’ sake. This book draws on years of experience from scores of OPEN workers who are BAM/B4T practitioners. BAM/B4T are among the faster growing segments of the worldwide mission movement. It is written for new workers and coaches who need practical guidance in setting up and doing business in hard, church-less areas.

BAM is about shaping business for God and the common good; bringing solutions to global issues like human trafficking, poverty, creation care, and unreached peoples. Patrick Lai’s book is an important guide for those who are serious about transformational business, especially in areas where the name of Jesus is rarely heard. This book is very practical with tools, stories and resources. Read it, use it!

Mats Tunehag – Co-Chair, BAM Global Think Tank and Senior Associate of BAM, The Lausanne Movement Read more

Lessons from the Edge: Integrating Mission and Business in Your Business Preparations

Insights from a BAM Practitioner 

Peter has lived and worked in a professional and business capacity for over 40 years throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and North America and is a pioneer in the business as mission movement. He currently consults on business as mission all over the world and is the CEO of a global investment fund for BAM enterprise in the Arab world and Asia. 

Preparation must consider both business preparation and missiological preparation
This is about recognising what God has already done in the practitioner’s life in regards to their sense of missional call and life experiences; the tapestry woven together in their life before the BAM entity begins. What has God been doing to both missionally and professionally prepare the person, in terms of their skills and competencies? Mentors should begin with: Tell me what God has been doing in your life? Tell me what your sense of call is? Tell me how God has been preparing you? The incubation of a new BAM business is the result of the process that God has already been doing before that.

Gain an understanding of what is going on in the environment that God has called you to
What is your business going to be about, commercially and missionally? Where has God called you to do BAM and what might he want to do through the business? What is going on in that environment in commercial terms? What are the needs? What is the market? What is the missional calling to the people group? How is God raising up your business? This stage will include formal market research, missiological research, taking exploratory trips, etc. Avoid the stumbling block of falling in love with your product and discovering after the fact that the market doesn’t have the same affinity for it! The BAM practitioner will need someone who is business-minded to ask good questions. Also avoid the other stumbling block of an inadequate understanding of the missiological, anthropological, and sociological issues that are at play.

Work together with national Christians to gain understanding
Engage in a dialogue that will shape understanding about the context and what the business is going to be. This will involve persuading each other of the vision and intent of the company, and further refining what might work and what won’t. This should be bilateral; an expat that is not willing to listen to national Christians on what tweaking and refinement is needed is doomed to failure.  This of course is not the same thing as listening to all voices – for there will be many nay-sayers and people who just don’t get it. Choose your national counsellors with discernment and humility.


These Lessons were first shared in the BAM Think Tank Report on BAM Incubation, and published on the Blog in full here.

In the Shoes of a BAM Practitioner Part 1: Unpacking the Top 3 HR Challenges

What have been the most important HR issues in your BAM business experience?

That is the question we put to 25 BAM Practitioners. These are the three most frequently mentioned Human Resource challenges and some of the comments that business owners shared with us.

1. Finding the complete package

The issue that kept coming up again and again was finding people with the right mix of business skills, character formation and mission-motivation. This was by far the most frequently mentioned challenge among the BAMers we asked.

The biggest issue is finding employees who are followers of Christ and have the skillset required for the job. I usually run into people who have one or the other of these two qualifications, but seldom have both. – Joseph, India

A challenge is finding management level people with the faith maturity and business skills. Another is locating skilled expats willing to live and work in a remote location to build local capacity. – David, Asia

Read more

10 Critical Human Resource Challenges in Business as Mission

We asked 25 BAM Practitioners one simple question:

What have been the most important HR issues in your BAM business experience?

Here are the Top 10 issues that they mentioned the most:

 

1. Finding the complete package
Recruiting and hiring people with the right mix of business skills, character formation and mission-motivation.

 

2. Cultural differences
Dealing with different cultural norms between expat staff or business owners and national staff, that significantly impacts the business 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

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