In the second part of this blog post, we'll outline a couple more models of businesses that are integrated with a church planting effort. They feature some distinct advantages business people have over "traditional" missionary pathways.
Matt has an animal feed business in central Asia. Through this business, local families are trained to set up and operate their own small-scale farms. The business helps them get started by providing a small investment of livestock and feed.
Matt hired Adem, who had recently become a believer, as the company's first national employee. Later he became the company's first distributor.
"It's easier to talk about Jesus now that I'm a businessman," Adem says. "It has opened many doors for me because people respect me and trust me. I find it is easy to start talking about spiritual things with people because I am already involved in their lives."
Adem has several new believers he is discipling, teaching and equipping to obey Jesus' commands. Through Matt's mentoring and encouragement, Adem has grown into a spiritually sensitive entrepreneur, constantly looking for new opportunities to grow the business and see God's Kingdom advance.
In another country, another business person said, "To be here without a strong identity, people will dismissively say you're a missionary or a spy!"
"As business people, we have an identity, the locals are excited that we are here, and people want to know what we think."
"The business also gives us wonderful opportunities to visit rural farmers, visits which would otherwise be viewed with suspicion. We are also able to bless the community through the product, employment, training and ploughing back the resources the business generates."
"The challenges include financing and upskilling in areas I was not familiar with, as my background is in agriculture. We value the input of experienced business coaches."
"People think business is not a good option, because it will be all-consuming and leave no time for people. Pre-business, I used to struggle to spend time with people, but the business means I spend hours with people each day, and I have natural reasons to chat with our neighbours as well. Doing business is totally compatible with making disicples!"
JM Bell is a pseudonym. He works at Frontiers: www.frontiers.org.uk. He has a passion to see all fulfil their part in God’s global plans. He has worked in the Middle East, West Africa and cities in the UK.