We are sharing a series throughout October on ‘What in the World is God Doing through Business as Mission?!’ We are aiming to ‘put the global into BAM Global’ by highlighting encouraging BAM developments from different parts of the world during this month.
God is on the move across Asia! To provide an insight into just one part of it, we interviewed BAM Global Executive Director, João Mordomo, who went to India last month.
Interview with João Mordomo
I had the privilege recently of going to India and the purpose of that trip was twofold. Firstly, I was visiting in a disputed region of the country where business as mission is proving to be one of the only models that is effective. This is both in terms of Indians or foreigners having a credible presence in that region, as well as creating the actual mission impact that they desire.
If Indians from further south in India, for example, want go up into this primarily Muslim region with the intention of somehow spreading the gospel they are not going to be able to be there legitimately if they’re not doing business or have some other type of job. It was great to see a combination of nationalities doing business there, both nationals and ex-pats. There were Indians, alongside ethnic Nepalis who have Indian nationality, Nepalis who are both nationally and ethnically Nepali, and then some others from further afield.
Open Doors to Business
Some of the BAM practitioners there are working in the hospitality industry and others are doing things related to agriculture or ecotourism. Recently, the ecotourism component is looking very promising. People go to this region for hiking, camping and mountaineering, things like that. But then those tourists need bed and breakfast accommodation, they need refreshments and meals. So there is a small ecosystem that is developing.
One of the most encouraging things that I saw there with foreigners as well as Indians, is that they are employing locals, with the hope of them hearing about Christ alongside having a really positive social impact. What do I mean by that? For instance, if there’s one group that has three enterprises in three cities, one city is predominantly Muslim, another is predominantly Hindu, another is predominantly Buddhist. And they’re looking at the twofold benefit of being able to hire these other people from these other religions in order to experience the gospel. The employees also get a good job, bringing stability to livelihoods, which is great because finding a decent job is often not very easy in this region.
Alongside that, there is multiplication. When one unit or location is successful and making a profit, that sustainability can be leveraged to start a new enterprise. A new unit may not be profitable in the first year or two, it’s going to take a while, but when it does it can do greater good through expansion. In this case, it’s not about making the owner wealthy, they’re not sending the profits outside of the country – they’re actually using them to expand. This creates even more great jobs, more social impact and more opportunities for people who wish to plant and grow churches in these communities – but that need a real job to have a role and credibility in that place.
The second half of my trip, I was down in the south-central region of India for what is considered to be the largest BAM conference in South Asia, an initiative of a partner network of BAM Global. And one of the immediate things that I noticed there, which linked directly to what I was doing the week before in the other region, was that the church in the south of India seems to be taking the Great Commission more seriously than ever, especially with respect to the needs throughout the north of India. I met many Indians doing really, really good business; important people, some influential people, doing some really good things. And I heard them talking about their responsibility to reach the north of India with the gospel. That was very encouraging.
One of the two big trends that are happening right now in India is the persecution that is is coming primarily from extreme parts of the ruling political party. And I don’t want to get too political in this answer, but the persecution seems getting more severe from Hindu nationalists. Some of it is outright violent in certain regions. We’re constantly seeing church planters and pastors being arrested, having churches closed down, if not burned down. And actually, unfortunately, people being killed because they are preaching the gospel or because they are serving as pastors or similar.
Another type of persecution we’re seeing is more prevalent throughout the country and it’s a softer type of persecution. It’s a type of almost bureaucratic persecution where whether it’s a Christian entity not having a license renewed or whether it’s foreign workers who are coming to do business there, they’re genuine business people, but for whatever reason, if they have been identified possibly having other motives besides business, their visas won’t be renewed and without explanation.
The second major trend is that the economy is exploding. And when you look at those two factors, business as mission is one of the very few things that comes to mind that actually answers the situation in both cases. It can help overcome the persecution; real business that has a positive effect on communities and people is much needed because it’s the only way that many people can be in a position to demonstrate the goodness the gospel. But it is also responding to those really incredible economic opportunities.
So why would the church in India or outside of India not be looking very seriously at the possibility of doing business development? And that could start with training young entrepreneurs, Christian entrepreneurs, and then equipping them with not just the skills, but resources, to start new businesses. And why not have them be doing that up in the north of India, for example, where the persecution is greater if they’re already going there, associated with pre-existing Indian businesses or if they’re representing some sort of franchise or maybe a multinational or a large national Indian company. There are all kinds of possibilities to open up the opportunities and do good through business in a local community, for a city, something like that. So there’s this convergence of those two trends of persecution and tremendous, unprecedented economic opportunities, and what is right in the middle of that? Business as mission!
Creating Global Forums and Connections
An example of the power of networking and connections that encouraged me from a BAM Global perspective was when I was in the north. A group had come over from Latin America at the same time as me and together we were visiting some of the BAM enterprises with church planting projects, which are seamlessly integrated with each other. And the reason these people came from Latin America to visit was because, back in April, when we did our annual BAM Global Summit online, we had the business owner speaking in one of the workshops. And these people from Latin America were at the Summit and they work in the same industry and they’re thinking, “How do we leverage what we love to do and know how to do but for the sake of the truly unreached peoples of the world?” And so this connection occurred because of our virtual Summit last April.
Then when I got down to the conference further south, the first person that I spoke to before the conference started was a woman working for an IT company in Nepal who’d come over especially for the event. We got chatting and I discovered that the reason she’s working with that IT company is because she also met company representatives online at the April Summit!
So two different types of relationships came about through that global connecting opportunity. One was now looking at doing business together and the other was somebody who wanted to do BAM but didn’t really have any concrete opportunities and ended up getting hired in Nepal.
Our core activities in BAM Global are:
- Nurturing partner networks
- Creating global forums
- Delivering essential resources
We are working with many wonderful people from around the world, volunteers from so many different countries working really hard to share hard-won lessons from BAM practice and do research and then produce some incredible reports and papers. Or those working really hard to actually put on these virtual events, working hard to start new networks. This trip to India gave me a chance to see BAM in action and see just a couple of examples of fruit from those networking activities.
So I’ll just end with this: Be deeply encouraged. If you’ve been helping BAM Global, if you’ve been praying for us, if you’ve been sponsoring or helping financially, if you have invited us to speak in an event, if we’ve invited you to speak at our event, it is bearing fruit! If you’ve been helping with producing or editing materials, if you’ve been serving with some of our IT needs or helping broadcast our events. If you’ve had anything at all to do with BAM Global, the fruit is there, it’s visible and it’s becoming more and more visible because things are accelerating, things are intensifying!
We’re moving forward together and we’re going forward faster and more fruitfully than ever.
If you are interested in joining in, do come along to our free BAM Global Connect event on Wednesday the 8th November and find out how you could engage. More about this event here.
Written by Alana Schreiber, in interview with João Mordomo.
Dr. João Mordomo is Executive Director of BAM Global. He also serves variously as owner, managing director and board member of several BAM businesses, and serves as Co-Catalyst for Business as Mission at the Lausanne Movement. He is co-founder and Vice-Chair of Crossover Global, a church planting organization that has planted nearly 4000 churches among unreached peoples.
Discover more from other Regions:
Join us live and find out more!
Come to the FREE BAM Global Connect event on Wednesday 8th November, 13:30–15:30 UTC. We’ll be sharing more about business as mission, plus an update on BAM Global news. There will be an opportunity to ‘Ask us Anything’ about BAM or BAM Global, and a chance to talk to BAM Global leaders live during our networking time about starting a BAM network in your region or country. Plus we’ll have a live report from BAM in Southern Africa & Ethiopia. Find out more about BAM Connect here.