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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

 

 

The Coronavirus Pandemic and BAM: Seven Things We Can Do

by Mats Tunehag

The effects of the coronavirus are disruptive beyond comprehension. The situation is changing by the hour. The consequences vary from difficult to dire for billions of people, and nobody knows what the timeline is for this crisis.

Media across the world updates us constantly on the negative effects on businesses and on people’s lives, so this short article will have a different focus: what can we do?

But first let’s note that throughout history the Church has a track record of serving others in the midst of major plagues and catastrophes.

The sociologist Rodney Stark has written (in The Rise of Christianity) that one reason the church overcame hostility and grew so rapidly within the Roman empire traces back to how Christians responded to pandemics of the day, which probably included bubonic plague and smallpox.  When infection spread, Romans fled their cities and towns; Christians stayed behind to nurse and feed not only their relatives but their pagan neighbors.” (Living in Plague Times – Phillip Yancy)

Why has the Church done this for centuries and why should we do it now? One fundamental reason is that we are to love God and our neighbors, and the two are connected. As Bishop Barron says: “Why are the two commandments so tightly linked? Because of who Jesus is. Christ is not simply a human being, and he is not simply God; rather, he is the God-man, the one in whose person divinity and humanity meet. Therefore, it is impossible to love him as God without loving the humanity that he has embraced. The greatest commandment is, therefore, an indirect Christology.” [1]

Many businesses are facing challenges with cashflow, lockdown, sales, having to let staff go, supply chain disruptions, bankruptcies, et cetera. So, what can we do now?

Let me suggest seven areas for action as it relates to BAM businesses and the global BAM community. We also invite you to add your suggestions.  Read more

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is our first “Staff Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

Refugees: A Crisis or an Opportunity?

by Hakan Sandberg

Few issues have got more attention in Europe than the rapid influx of refugees seeking a safe haven in a new host country. It has toppled governments, changed the whole political landscape in several countries, and made many initially generous and empathic people eventually withdraw and instead lean towards right wing, racial nationalism. But is the refugee crisis really the “mother of all problems”? Have we given those new arrivals a real chance to contribute and be part of adding value to our societies?

If we believe all human beings are created in God’s image, then we also believe all human beings are inherently creative to some degree. This also must include these newcomers to our countries. What if we would focus on bringing that creativity out of them, so that they can flourish and be a blessing to others?

Instead many of our well-intentioned governments make them stand in line, waiting for jobs after first having gone through language and culture training, etc. etc. These are good things but represent a journey that can take years and often leads to a loss of vision and energy. Not all incoming refugees are cut out for this type of process, some have the drive to create a different future for themselves.

From Crisis to Opportunity

If we are realistic about it, migrant flows are not going disappear. Conflicts have always been there in different regions at one time or another, and they are not likely to end. Many experts are also pointing at a new reason for migration coming in the future, namely climate migrants, people who have lost everything due to the global warming and rising water levels around coastlands.

How can we turn what media have labelled as “crisis”, to become a real, tangible opportunity?  Read more

Let Freedom Ring! Fighting Slavery with Business Solutions

by Mats Tunehag

Young children sold to sexual slavery. Yes, it was a grim fact of life year after year in a remote village in the Himalayas. Poverty was rampant and there was a lack of jobs. This made families desperate and vulnerable, and traffickers exploited the situation.

Some seasoned BAMers explored how they could change the situation. In communication and collaboration with the villagers they started an adventure tourism company with village home-stays. To make a long story short: this new economic opportunity transformed the village, and its families, for the good. Jobs with dignity were created and no more young children from this village have since been sold into slavery.

This is more than a sweet, and true, story from Nepal. This is an example of a growing number of companies that fight human trafficking through business. They are dealing with root causes to modern day slavery and they are tackling the systemic issues underpinning today’s evil – and highly profitable – slavery business.

Learning from History

In the 1700’s the slave trade was widely accepted and legal. It was, in fact, a backbone of the economy of the British Empire. It was a big, organised and transnational business.

William Wilberforce and the Clapham group decided to fight this evil trade. They chose to attack the systemic issue – the legality of the slave trade and slavery. To that end they organised a decades long campaign focusing on justice, aiming at a root cause. They worked politically to change unjust and ungodly laws that permitted that dehumanising trade.  Read more

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

Business and Shalom

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. This summer, we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past 6 months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for January to June 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Roxanne Addink de Graaf

Business and Shalom are seldom seen in the same sentence. Shalom is a word more often heard in church than in the marketplace.

However, just coming from a visit with entrepreneurs in Liberia, I’m more convinced than ever of the vital role of business in bringing about true shalom, the shalom God calls us to build here on Earth. Shalom should be a driving force behind the mission of every business, and shalom provides an excellent framework for a wholistic, multiple bottom line kingdom-building business.

The Biblical vision for “shalom” goes beyond our common understanding of peace. As the Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff writes, “Shalom is the human being dwelling at peace in all his relationships: with God, with self, with fellows, with nature… shalom is not merely the absence of hostility…at its highest it is enjoyment in one’s relationships.” (from Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Wolterstorff, 1983)

Relationships are at the heart of shalom, and the marketplace is a place of relationships. We will not achieve a true vision of shalom if we don’t achieve shalom in business, and as Christians in business, we need to be leading this crusade.

Wolterstorff goes on in his essay to describe shalom as a rich and joyous state of right relationship (justice), delight in service of God, the human community and the creation around us. Shalom is not a peaceful spiritual state where physical needs aren’t met, where people are still hungry, injustices prevail or work is no more. Rather, our right relationship with nature involves work and reward. Wolterstorff reflects that the Biblical shalom includes “shaping the world with our labor and finding fulfilment in doing so,” as well as enjoying the fruit of our labor, celebrating with “a banquet of rich fare for all the people.” (Isaiah 25:6) Read more

Putting the Enterprise in Social Enterprise

by Rudy Carrasco

Landscaping. Coffee shops. Handyman services. Training kitchens. Snow removal. Housing for single mothers.

Across the United States, church and business leaders are responding to needs in their communities through social enterprise. Social enterprise addresses a basic unmet need or solve a social problem through a market-driven approach. Many social enterprises mix earned revenue with cash donations to cover their costs—but a growing number of organizations seek to operate profitable business as they pursue shalom.

Shalom—the just conditions in which “nothing is missing, nothing is broken”—is the vision of Grand Rapids, Mich. based Building Bridges Professional Services. Building Bridges started in 2007 to employ young adults facing barriers to employment. They provide landscaping, lawn care, property maintenance, snow removal, and more. Their vision of shalom includes the flourishing of young people who have aged out of the foster care system and have few people or resources to lean on as a safety net.

In 2017, Building Bridges began the process of converting from a nonprofit to an L3C for-profit structure. “To do social enterprise well,” says Nate Beene, CEO of Building Bridges, “you have to closely integrate your social purpose and financial health.”

With support from Partners Worldwide volunteers, Nate and his team began strengthening the business-side of their operations four years ago. “Our budget wasn’t best suited for our industry,” Beene says. “We worked on account codes, breaking down expenses, and allocating costs like vendor repairs and vehicle use.”  Read more

Hyma Brings Shalom

by Ellie Hutchison

Her hand moves rhythmically, hovering in constant motion above the red earth. She draws in rice flour. A trail of white left in her wake, forming geometric swirls, arches, circles, and loops. Her kolam is elaborate, yet simple. Beautiful, but precise.

Each morning, millions of women in India rise and draw kolams on the ground outside their home. Yet their primary purpose is not decoration. Historically, they have been a sign of invitation and welcome. Made of rice flour, they are an offering to ants and other small organisms so they don’t have to walk too far for a meal.

In this way, a kolam embodies our call to care for the vulnerable among us. It is a humble effort to create a welcoming community of harmonious co-existence.

Like most people in Tirunelveli, a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, kolams were a familiar presence in Hyma’s childhood. They marked her path from home to school and back again. Her eyes would bounce from one to the next as she walked, careful not to smear the intricate designs with her footsteps. Read more

Business and Shalom

by Roxanne Addink de Graaf

Business and Shalom are seldom seen in the same sentence. Shalom is a word more often heard in church than in the marketplace.

However, just coming from a visit with entrepreneurs in Liberia, I’m more convinced than ever of the vital role of business in bringing about true shalom, the shalom God calls us to build here on Earth. Shalom should be a driving force behind the mission of every business, and shalom provides an excellent framework for a wholistic, multiple bottom line kingdom-building business.

The Biblical vision for “shalom” goes beyond our common understanding of peace. As the Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff writes, “Shalom is the human being dwelling at peace in all his relationships: with God, with self, with fellows, with nature… shalom is not merely the absence of hostility…at its highest it is enjoyment in one’s relationships.” (from Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Wolterstorff, 1983)

Relationships are at the heart of shalom, and the marketplace is a place of relationships. We will not achieve a true vision of shalom if we don’t achieve shalom in business, and as Christians in business, we need to be leading this crusade.

Wolterstorff goes on in his essay to describe shalom as a rich and joyous state of right relationship (justice), delight in service of God, the human community and the creation around us. Shalom is not a peaceful spiritual state where physical needs aren’t met, where people are still hungry, injustices prevail or work is no more. Rather, our right relationship with nature involves work and reward. Wolterstorff reflects that the Biblical shalom includes “shaping the world with our labor and finding fulfilment in doing so,” as well as enjoying the fruit of our labor, celebrating with “a banquet of rich fare for all the people.” (Isaiah 25:6) Read more

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