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Really! Work is Worship

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Patrick Lai

The Hebrew word “avodah” (ah-vod-ah) is translated in the English Bible for both work and worship. A better English translation when referring to work is service. God receives work as worship done unto Him. Put simply: work is worship. The similarity between the two clarifies that in God’s eyes our work is worship in that it is not done for our own benefit, but rather as an offering to Him. This means the workplace is God’s place. We are to interact with God and talk about God in our workplace just as we do at church or at home. The workplace is a place of worship where we may express the compassion of Christ in word and deed.

In building a theology of work we need to begin with God’s Word and God’s words.  The Hebrew word avodah is central to understanding God’s view of work and worship. This noun עבדה (avodah), occurs 145 times, making this word group a substantial theme in the Old Testament. The root verb עבד (avad) occurs 289 times in the Bible, mostly in the qal form. This does not include the substantive form, עבד (eved), which occurs an additional 780 times in the Old Testament.  The עבד word group is translated throughout the English Old Testament in three main ways: Read more

Bad Math: Why Be a Business Professional?

by João Mordomo

Why be a business professional (or any other type of professional) when you can be a “Great Commission professional”? Here’s my first bit of math: “Great Commission = to make disciples of all peoples” (see Matt. 28:19-20.)

Many of us have been taught bad math. We’ve learned two formulas in particular whose conclusions can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity about what God wants to do in and through us. Here’s what I mean. We’ve learned that “Great Commission = clergy” and “Business professional = laity”.  

The almost inevitable result of this bad math is to think that the people who hold real value in God’s eyes are the clergy, the full-time religious workers. After all, we are told, they are all about “the Lord’s work,” and they “give up so much” to serve Him in “full-time ministry.”

The flip-side of our conclusion is that, sure, laypeople have some value, but it’s more about the money they make (that they then give as tithes and offerings) or the abilities they have (“hey, would you be interested in teaching a Sunday school class?”).

But that’s not what the Bible teaches! Look at what Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:9, and then get ready to jump for joy (out of your plush leather executive chair, or off of your factory floor, or… well, you get my point!)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. – 1 Peter 2:9

Did you read it? If you are not jumping for joy already, maybe I can help. Read more

5 Ways to Nurture Spiritual Health: Tips from BAM Practitioners

In Part 1 we shared 4 Real Threats to the Spiritual Health of a BAMer: insights from 12 BAM practitioners on challenges they’d experienced to their spiritual well-being. In Part 2 below, find out how these BAMers actively nurture their relationship with the Lord.

1. Find a routine that works for you

All of the BAMers mentioned daily or weekly routines, disciplines and resources that best enabled them to talk to the Lord, to understand His word and to worship Him. Disciplines and tools such as setting aside time for prayer at a certain time, scripture reading plans, scripture meditation, devotional materials, prayer lists, contemplation, and so on, are all helpful. Consistency and knowing what works for you in a particular season are important keys.

Ask yourself:

  • What is my spiritual temperament? How do I best worship and relate to God?
  • What is God doing in this season of my life and what spiritual disciplines or tools will enhance that?
  • Where can I create space in my daily, weekly, monthly and annual routine to strengthen my relationship with the Lord and my spiritual health?

I give God the firstfruits of my time: Whenever I’m at my peak, I give that time to God. I’m a morning person, so I always start the day with him, giving him my best and exclusive focus. No social media, emails, etc to set my mind off into the world, but stilling practices including silence, solitude, reflection and prayer. I follow a plan for reading the Bible. It sounds a little basic, but by sticking to a plan, it means I have a healthy scaffold from which my relationship with God is developed and sustained. – Liam, Australia Read more

Sabbath Rest and Celebration in the Life of a BAM Practitioner

by Bill J.

In Hebrews 4 we read, “So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works.”

Sabbatical rest here is not the same as observing the Sabbath. They are different words in the text. The Sabbath is a day of the week set aside on which to not work. The Sabbath rest seems to be an experience we could have everyday, not one day a week. We enter into God’s rest by “resting from our own works.” So what in the world does that mean?

This Sabbath rest or in Greek ‘sabbatismos’ is defined by Strong’s concordance as “(figuratively) the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven): — rest.” This sounds like what you would expect our experience to be if “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” actually happened! In the presence of the Lord we could cease from our own labors because he is here with us.

For anyone running a business this sounds absolutely crazy. We probably are busier than we have ever been. Telling us to rest from our works can feel very irresponsible. And so, most us plug on ahead at full speed. Or to avoid burn out, we slow down and the business fails to develop into a profitable organization. Read more

Is Your Work and Life in Balance? The BAM Balancing Act

by Patrick Lai

Ideally, every BAMer or B4Ter wants a perfect work-life balance. But as you’ve probably already experienced, this mythical balance is rarely achievable. Striving for balance can lead to more ‘stress over being stressed’ than work itself.

To help you manage the work-life balance debate, tune out the opinions of others and start checking in with what the Lord is saying to you. Ultimately it’s up to you to figure out what balance works best for your own situation, but if you need some help finding that equilibrium point, there are others who have gone before you who can help.

Starting Out

When you are first starting you’re your job overseas or your business, you may need to abandon any idea of balance. That’s a serious statement that warrants strong consideration before moving into the B4T/BAM world. You will need to get family, friends, loved ones and especially your leaders on board with your full-court push and be prepared for some backlash at the drive you’ll need to settle into your job or to get your business going.

In starting out, the work-life balance you achieve may be more like 90/10 than 50/50. Know your own contentment level. Strive to understand what that balance is for you personally and be prepared to make the commitment act upon your decision.

Evaluation and Adjustment

As you settle into your job, that balance will change and you’ll be able to invest more time at things and with people away from the office. So recognize that the fulcrum of balance will be a sliding point on the bar of life. Read more

Really! Work is Worship

by Patrick Lai

The Hebrew word “avodah” (ah-vod-ah) is translated in the English Bible for both work and worship. A better English translation when referring to work is service. God receives work as worship done unto Him. Put simply: work is worship. The similarity between the two clarifies that in God’s eyes our work is worship in that it is not done for our own benefit, but rather as an offering to Him. This means the workplace is God’s place. We are to interact with God and talk about God in our workplace just as we do at church or at home. The workplace is a place of worship where we may express the compassion of Christ in word and deed.

In building a theology of work we need to begin with God’s Word and God’s words.  The Hebrew word avodah is central to understanding God’s view of work and worship. This noun עבדה (avodah), occurs 145 times, making this word group a substantial theme in the Old Testament. The root verb עבד (avad) occurs 289 times in the Bible, mostly in the qal form. This does not include the substantive form, עבד (eved), which occurs an additional 780 times in the Old Testament.  The עבד word group is translated throughout the English Old Testament in three main ways: Read more

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

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

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

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