A Cup of Cold Water: Business and the Stewardship of Creation

by Mark Polet

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

The purpose of this blog is to reflect and comment on the eleventh affirmation of the Wealth Creation Manifesto:

11. Creation care is not optional. Stewardship of creation and business solutions to environmental challenges should be an integral part of wealth creation through business.

The Wealth Creation Manifesto is an integrated whole, and so I would like to continue from Dr. Rod St. Hill’s blog on affirmations 7 and 8. Rod argues that the BAM movement is committed to the quadruple bottom line – economic, social, environmental and spiritual. He then quotes Amartya Sen, saying threats to environmental sustainability is an ‘unfreedom’ that must be overcome to foster development.

Creation is a gift from God. Eons ago, God created everything we need right now for our businesses. What are we going to do with the gift?’ Specifically, how do we “set the captives free” [1] answering the challenge given by Rod St. Hill?’

Part of the answer lies in Matthew 25:

‘35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Many of the unreached areas also have the highest water stress and/or the poorest air quality. [2] What if we as wealth creators provide clean water, clean air, clean food or clean energy to help people flourish? Think of the benefits of a restored creation along with restored hearts.

My colleague Anugraha Gaikwad and I have the pleasure of working with wealth creators who are doing this very thing. They are working with local community leaders in unreached areas. They are offering plastics recycling, clean water technology, waste-to-energy solutions, improved sanitation systems, waste-to-product initiatives, clean energy alternatives (both on shore and near shore), and products from natural sources. I challenge you as wealth creators to join your colleagues. Be the one to bring a cup of cold water and you will have the chance to share living water.

There is a consequence if we do not use our talents accordingly. I quote my colleague Revd. Dr. Dave Bookless [3],

‘(T)he later verses of the same parable (Matthew 25:41-46) “Depart from me you who are cursed … For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me’’ are equally applicable to BAM. If we fail to take account of the impact of our business activities on the poorest and most vulnerable, whether through causing pollution, over-exploiting natural resources, or putting profit above people and planet, we are judged by Jesus’ comments in these verses.’ [4]

Jesus does not mince words. The choice is ours as wealth creators. We must take into account our impact on the environment and use God’s gift of creation so all God’s creatures may be set free.

Creation groans. [5] Help make it sing. [6]

 

ENDNOTES

[1]  Luke 4:18-19

[2] soon to be published work by Mark Polet and Anugraha Gaikwad through BAM Global

[3] A Rocha. (2020). Revd Dr Dave Bookless.  available at  https://www.arocha.org/en/people/dave-bookless/

[4] Bookless, Dave. (2020). Email communication. 2020 June 23.

[5] Romans 8:22

[6] Psalm 19:1

More in this series:

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World
Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators
Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good
Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church
Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth
Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God
Business as Good News to the Poor

mark polet july 2018 031Mark Polet is a professional biologist with over 40 years of experience. Working on four continents, Mark and his wife Terri bridge cultures and traditions with people of good will to serve those who are spiritually and materially impoverished. Mark is passionate about bringing engineers, scientists, and business together to develop solutions to challenging environmental issues. Mark has the privilege to coordinate the BAM Global Creation Care Consultation. Prior to working in the impact business space, Mark & Terri owned a number of companies, including an environmental services company and an environmental consultancy.

 

 

 

Watch the Wealth Creation Classroom Series

The Lausanne Global Classroom on Wealth Creation is a series of short 2-5 minute videos based on the work of the Wealth Creation Consultation

More Resources

Download: PDF of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

Read: Wealth Creation Manifesto with Bible References

Read: Calling the Church to affirm Wealth Creators

Download: Wealth Creation Papers:

Click on image to open BAM Global Reports page

 

 

Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash

Profile photo by Lucie Leduc

 

BAM Job Opportunities – September 2020

Welcome to the rebooted list of BAM Job Opportunities on The BAM Review. Much has changed in the world since we last posted a ‘job blog’ in March 2020 and so we felt it was appropriate to start from scratch with a brand new list. All jobs listed here are up to date and current, open positions (at date of posting).

 

Internships – Various BAM Companies

OPEN is looking for interns for between 6-12 weeks to work in BAM Companies in Africa, Middle East and all parts of Asia. On-site and virtual internships available now through 2021. More information

 

Various Positions – IT Company in North India

Envision yourself as part of a team built on the foundation of servant leadership, where we intentionally support each other in growth as individuals and a company. Since 2001, we have been working in India providing businesses in the West affordable and quality IT resources to keep their companies growing, while creating local jobs that build team direction and personal growth.  We’d love for you to bring your skills and leadership to our team, accelerating our growth so that we can impact more lives globally.

Business Development: Acts as the lungs of our business, working strategically to qualify and turn prospects into long term clients. This person works from their home office (or co-working space) closing deals that will be delivered by our software teams in India. Download job description| Apply Online

Account Manager: Grows trustful relationship with our clients in order to create multi-project, mutually fruitful relationships. Focuses on staging the projects and coaching the delivery team toward success in our offices in India. Download job description | Apply Online

Technologist in India: Works closely with our development and testing teams in India to encourage continuous learning and quality products via strategic processes. Download job description | Apply Online

College Student Intern in India: Soaks up an immersive multicultural experience along with the most practical real-life education on the market—all while creating value and becoming an integral part of our team. Download job description | Apply Online

Gap Year Internship in India: Acts as a Jack-of-all-Trades by flexibly taking on different responsibilities and projects throughout the entire company, providing real value while also gaining multicultural experience in the many different components of business. Download job description | Apply Online  
Read more

Business as Good News to the Poor

by Rachel Rose Nelson

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Affirmations 9 and 10 of the Wealth Creation Manifesto addresses the power of business to lift people out of poverty and fight injustice:

9. Wealth creation through business has proven power to lift people and nations out of poverty.
10. Wealth creation must always be pursued with justice and a concern for the poor, and should be sensitive to each unique cultural context.

Taken as a whole, the Wealth Creation Manifesto builds a sort of theology of business. It starts where every good theology must – in the identity of God, rooting the reader in the wealth creator’s role model – no less than the Creator of Heaven and Earth. It continues through affirmations of wealth creation as a holy calling, a provocative claim to many church and business leaders alike. But those willing to suspend disbelief at claims of holiness soon reach Affirmations 9 and 10 which tread on nothing less than the holy ground of Jesus’ own announcement of his ministry, words he drew directly from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Luke 4:18-19

Jesus defined his ministry by its benefit to the poor. The people of Nazareth were moved at first but quickly turned against him. Many explain the drastic shift occurred as the crowd realized the man they knew since childhood was essentially claiming to be Messiah. But it’s worth noting that it was directly after Jesus denied big blessings for his own people that they moved to throw him off a cliff.

Wealth Creators on the Sidelines?

Are we so very different? How do we in the church receive these two Affirmations? Too often we love wealth creators when we think the blessings from their benevolence are headed our way, funding church programs, global missions, and charity to the poor, etc.. However, many harbor suspicions about what good can possibly be accomplished for God’s Kingdom by the businesses themselves.

And how do we in business receive the prophetic summons to bless the poor and vulnerable when stewarding our gifts? Most faith-driven entrepreneurs are certainly willing to give out of the overflow of their business, but never ask God how to use their business model to model Christ, making Him manifest in the places and for the people who need Him most.

Now more than ever we cannot afford for faith-driven wealth creators to be sidelined in the work of reaching the poor and setting captives free. Studies predict the economic impact from COVID-19 could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people. This will be the first time that poverty has increased globally in thirty years, with people struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water, sanitation, and other essentials. [1]

Fighting the Injustice of Modern Slavery and Poverty

And modern slavery, linked as it is to poverty, is predicted to rise rapidly amid the economic vulnerability created by the global pandemic. The International Labor Organization recently reported millions of men, women and children will fall prey to human traffickers promising work and decent jobs. [2]

Pause here. As wealth creators we can become numb to the overwhelming needs of the world. Statistics like those above remain just numbers, without the power to move us from our positions of relative comfort. This is and always has been the curse of kings. We know from Scripture it took prophets willing to face death to move the hearts of kings, who had often grown calloused, ultimately building their own kingdoms alongside or sometimes even rather than God’s. We judge their blindness but many times miss our own.

What is God calling wealth creators to bring to earth as it is in heaven? What is good news to the poor? Many say charity. But if you ask the poor, what most want is a good job. [3]

According to the United Nations and many others engaged in global poverty reduction efforts, job creation has been and continues to be essential. [4]  It is clear: bringing good news to the poor means bringing a job, but not just any job. After all, even those being trafficked and exploited are employed. As faith-driven entrepreneurs we should aim at nothing less than providing jobs that carry out the ministry Christ first proclaimed, making Him manifest for those held captive in the clutches of poverty. That kind of job turns good news into the Gospel.

Blessing the Poor and Captive, Through Business

Andy Crouch, Praxis Partner for Theology & Culture asks, “What would it look like if Christians were committed to living redemptively – actively moving into systems that are bywords for corruption and caveat emptor, and changing the whole game?”[5]  I have seen firsthand what that looks like. In my role as Executive Director of Freedom Business Alliance I have witnessed a global network of leaders building businesses to provide dignified jobs for survivors of human trafficking. It is a mission that requires daily sacrifice on behalf of leaders who could very easily find more success walking down almost any other professional avenue. Yet these leaders remain. They labor daily to build Christ-like communities of support and development only possible in places of employment, but so rarely found in the regions in which they operate. Together they are reimagining business at the intersection of the Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission.

The regions in which they operate are predominantly developing economies, where extreme poverty and modern slavery are all too prevalent and decent jobs scarce. These are places faith-driven wealth creators are desperately needed. But as Affirmation 10 of our Manifesto maintains, when we go into all the world, we must enter with sensitivity so as not to repeat the sins of the past. We bring some important resources but certainly not all. We bring some answers but must first seek understanding. And we bring Christ in us, but must never fall victim to the lie that He has not already been there moving, working in the hearts of the people, and perhaps most importantly, raising up leaders from whom we ourselves must learn. For as Randy Woodley, Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture at Portland Seminary, outlines in his Missiological Imperatives, “God expects two conversions out of every encounter, our conversion to the truth in their culture, and their conversion to the truth we bring to the encounter.” [6]

As wealth creators we are in many ways the kings of our day, with power which comes from the Lord. But at the risk of being thrown off a cliff, I submit that this power is not granted solely to bless the wealth creator or even the church, but the poor and captive. And this blessing should not come through charity alone but through a reimagined engagement in the art of business patterned after nothing less than the ministry of Jesus.

 

ENDNOTES

[1] Sumner, A., Hoy, C. & Ortiz-Juarez, E. (2020) Estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty. WIDER Working Paper 2020/43. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER.

[2] International Labour Organisation (ILO), Covid-19 Impact on Child Labour and Forced Labour, www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—ipec/documents/publication/wcms_745287.pdf

[3] Clifton, J. (2011). The coming jobs war : What every leader must know about the future of job creation. New York, NY: Gallup Press.

[4] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Poverty. (n.d.). Employment and Decent Work | Poverty Eradication. United Nations. Retrieved September 3, 2020, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/socialperspectiveondevelopment/issues/employment-and-decent-work.html

[5] Crouch, Andy. “Why Ethical Work is Not Enough. Medium: The Praxis Journal, 3 Sep. 2020, https://journal.praxislabs.org/why-ethical-work-is-not-enough-1d4a42296fc5.

[6] Woodley, Randy, “Mission and the Cultural Other: In Search of the Pre-colonial Jesus” (2015). Faculty Publications – George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Paper 50. http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/gfes/50

More in this series:

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World
Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators
Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good
Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church
Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth
Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God

Rachel Rose Nelson serves as Executive Director of Freedom Business Alliance, the only global network creating business solutions to human trafficking. FBA has 100+ member businesses across 28+ countries. They are on a mission to scale the Freedom Business movement in order to create 100,000 jobs for survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked. Prior to her role at FBA, Rachel was an entrepreneur and business consultant in the areas of leadership and brand strategy. She holds a Bachelors in Graphic Communication and a Masters in Ministry Leadership. She and her family live just outside Portland, Oregon.

 

 

 

Watch the Wealth Creation Classroom Series

The Lausanne Global Classroom on Wealth Creation is a series of short 2-5 minute videos based on the work of the Wealth Creation Consultation

More Resources

Download: PDF of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

Read: Wealth Creation Manifesto with Bible References

Read: Calling the Church to affirm Wealth Creators

Download: Wealth Creation Papers:

Click on image to open BAM Global Reports page

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

 

Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God

by Rod St Hill

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Even the simplest one-person or family businesses as most are, especially in poorer countries, unleash the creative capacity in the human person, bringing together various inputs and transforming them into products that contribute positively to human flourishing. Not only do the products contribute to human flourishing, but the processes associated with business create opportunities for the realisation of human dignity.

The purpose of this blog is to reflect and comment upon the seventh and eighth affirmations of the Wealth Creation Manifesto:

7. The purpose of wealth creation through business goes beyond giving generously, although that is to be commended; good business has intrinsic value as a means of material provision and can be an agent of positive transformation in society.
8. Business has a special capacity to create financial wealth, but also has the potential to create different kinds of wealth for many stakeholders, including social, intellectual, physical and spiritual wealth.

I studied economic development at university over 40 years ago. I still recall reading Dudley Seers on ‘The Meaning of Development’. [1] He conceptualised development in terms of ‘realisation of the potential of human personality’. For this, he argued there were a number of necessary conditions, namely:

  • Basic needs – food, clothing, footwear, shelter – must be met
  • A job – defined broadly to include paid and unpaid work like studying, working on the family farm and housekeeping – to satisfy the need for self-respect
  • Other conditions such as good education, freedom of speech, and citizenship of a nation that is truly independent

In the first decade of my academic career I taught development economics. My students were certainly made aware of Seers’ concept. I also introduced my students to Amartya Sen’s work. He rejected the idea of ‘development’ and focused on freedom as the ultimate goal of economic life as well as the most efficient means of realising general welfare. According to Sen, overcoming deprivations (‘unfreedoms’) is central to development. These include hunger, ignorance, an unsustainable economic life, unemployment, barriers to economic fulfilment by women or minorities, premature death, violation of political freedom and basic liberty, threats to environmental sustainability, and poor access to health, sanitation, or safe water. [2]   Read more

Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth

by Francis Tsui

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Affirmations 5 and 6 of the Wealth Creation Manifesto addresses the contrast between wealth creating and wealth sharing, and the power of wealth to alleviate poverty:

5. Wealth hoarding is wrong, and wealth sharing should be encouraged, but there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created.
6. There is a universal call to generosity, and contentment is a virtue, but material simplicity is a personal choice, and involuntary poverty should be alleviated.

In a January 2020 report, Oxfam International revealed that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population. It further pointed out that the 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa.

The Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging the world’s economy and millions of people have lost their jobs, while millions more are living precariously. Since the beginning of the pandemic, billionaires in the U.S., such as Jeff Bezos (of Amazon), Steve Ballmer (former CEO of Microsoft) and Elon Musk (Tesla & SpaceX) and a few of their peers, have together increased their total net worth $637 billion so far. This is a classic case of the few rich ones got richer, while the millions sink to the bottom of the heap. Even some of those who used to be part of the middle class in many countries find themselves caught in the downward spiral. This wealth polarization happens in spite of the pandemic. Yet, the pandemic has just exacerbated the situation through economic shutdowns and restrictions, as well as uneven government economic aid to different industries. Ethical wealth creation should go hand in hand with fairness in wealth distribution.

Minding the Gap

Those who operate in the free market system show the efficacy and potency of their power in wealth creation and accumulation, especially those who manage to harness the power of technological advancement to increase productivity and efficiency. However, the increasing wealth disparity in the world has signaled something is seriously wrong. Wealth hoarding is definitely wrong, and wealth sharing needs to be encouraged. The Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness Frank Clemente once said, “The orgy of wealth shows how fundamentally flawed our economic system is.” Wealth creation without effective wealth distribution is fundamentally defective and unethical. When more people are sinking into financial oblivion, the result is the demeaning of humanity, and the robbing of human dignity.

As the gap between the haves and the have-nots widens, and increasing number of the world’s population are sinking into poverty, the call for generosity is getting louder. Every year, charities are looking for more support and more donation. Unfortunately, many charities have hit a major road block as the pandemic lingers on.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals reports that more than half of charitable organizations in the United States are expecting to raise less funds in 2020 than they did in 2019. Further, many believe that the same will occur in 2021. The picture is very disturbing. While the need for more generosity is required, the reality many charities confront is that funds are drying up. Many who are already living in poverty and hunger remain there, and there seems to have no light at the end of the tunnel.

Created to Create

Wealth creation and poverty alleviation should go hand in hand in our Christian witness. While ordinary Christians may not be in a position to alter the balance of wealth distribution on a global scale, and may not be in the capacity to bring about policy change for secondary distribution on government level, there are plenty of opportunities for us to be an active participant in both wealth creation and poverty alleviation ministry.

Our God is a creative, entrepreneurial, enterprising God as seen through His Creation. He is also a God of abundance and provision. Wealth creation is consistent to the character of God. Likewise, poverty alleviation is also a key attribute of God as on numerous occasions in the Bible He came through for the poor, the widowed, and those who was abandoned by their community.

We need people who share the compassionate heart of God and who are gifted in creating wealth through their entrepreneurial ventures and investment skills to be enlisted in the harvest fields to bring about job opportunities and sustainable economic growth to create wealth for communities and individuals.

Godly and ethical business practice lives out the Christian witness among the peers. Jobs bring livelihood and dignity to individuals. Economic well-being builds community. The Incarnate Jesus is present when the Good News prevails in the local community and people would have the foretaste and a glimpse of Kingdom on earth. The transformative power of the Gospel is alive and vibrant in the local community.

The Book of Ecclesiastes states, “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (8:15) Further, in the Proverbs, it also reminds us that “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor” (22:9) and that “the righteous give without sparing.” (21:26)

A Business Story

About 10 years ago, a successful Laotian Canadian Christian banker quit his job and went back to his birthplace, a place he had fled from as a child, along with his family, running away from war and poverty. He took out a long lease with the Laotian government on a plot of land at the Bolaven Plateau and started a coffee farm there. Bolaven Farms’ mission is to redeem the soil and nurture sustainable ecosystems promoting healthy and productive agrarian community developments.

At Bolaven Farms, in their own words, they “believe in sowing the seeds of hope.” By training resident farmers their Integrated Organic System free of charge and making credit available to qualifying graduates, farmers are empowered to break the cycle of poverty, one family at a time. Many of the skilled technicians they are bringing in for the technology transfer are followers of Christ. What they are bringing into this creative access country are their faithful witness in addition to the technical skills. They are convinced that what the poor need is not aid, but jobs – real jobs, not subsidized ones. This is the dignity and self-reliance we are equally created for. The Bolaven Farm resident farmers become proud land owners with productive family farms. Over the years, on the Bolaven Plateau, families are blessed with improved livelihood, and the community transforms, holistically.

Wealth creation could definitely be an instrument of grace and a vehicle to bring forth blessings and giftedness. Increasingly both in overseas mission fields as well as in local communities, BAM businesses such as Bolaven Farm are making an impact in places historically insulated from Christian encounters, earning respect and able to be a witness for Christ. When wealth creation and poverty alleviation go in tandem, they claim more territories for the Kingdom.

As wealth is created, believers may choose to live in abundance or in the virtue of contentment or even material simplicity with no coercion, but simply as a personal lifestyle choice. One way or the other, our God is the God of abundance and grace, ready to bless and happy to invite His good and faithful servants into sharing His joy.

More in this series:

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World
Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators
Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good
Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church

Francis K. Tsui is from Hong Kong and has been active in Asian mission in the last two decades serving as faculty, mentor, and Board member with Asian Access and AsiaCMS. He holds multiple higher degrees in modern Chinese history, business administration, as well as mission and leadership studies. Currently, he is working on a DMin at Fuller Seminary.

 

Watch the Wealth Creation Classroom Series

The Lausanne Global Classroom on Wealth Creation is a series of short 2-5 minute videos based on the work of the Wealth Creation Consultation

More Resources

Download: PDF of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

Read: Wealth Creation Manifesto with Bible References

Read: Calling the Church to affirm Wealth Creators

Download: Wealth Creation Papers:

Click on image to open BAM Global Reports page

 

 

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash