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Business as Mission - Service to Man as Service to God

By Janet Maxim - The “businessman” has long had a black eye— many people falsely assume he cheats customers, misrepresents products, exploits employees and pockets all the profits. The enemies of private enterprise regularly use this stereotyped perception to undermine a free market economy and, unfortunately, the ongoing fi nancial crisis has given them more talking points to use against the global expansion of business enterprise.

It hasn’t always been this way. When Communism collapsed, the people of Eastern and Central Europe were eager to “go into business,” and this attitude opened new doors of opportunity for Americans eager to help them. When a restless California fi nancial planner named Jeri Little visited Romania on a Christian aid mission in 1988, just before the overthrow of its dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, he couldn’t believe the destitution he saw. Little responded by returning to the country with $100,000 in medical supplies. But he questioned whether what he could do as a short-term part-time missionary was enough. “We needed to not just send them money and create another banana republic dependent on our aid,” he explained. “We needed people to create business.” Jeri and his wife Gloria threw in their lot with the Romanians, opening a secondhand clothing store that offered “good used clothing from America at good prices.” By 1997 he had three clothing businesses, which he passed on to local Romanian charities. He then opened Little Texas, a Tex-Mex restaurant—complete with a John Wayne Room!—and he used the profits to start churches and help local schools and charities. He also helped Romanians set up a homebuilding business and medical and dental clinics.
Like any good businessman, Jeri saw a need he could fulfill, and he took a risk to make a profi t. But he also saw business as a mission to build the Kingdom of God. “Those engaged in Kingdom business must consider themselves agents of transformation,” writes Ken Eldred, a pioneer of the Business As Mission (BAM) movement and the author of God Is At Work: Transforming People and Nations Through Business. Those who consider themselves Kingdom businessmen have what Eldred calls the triple bottom line: “profi tability, local job creation and building spiritual capital.” They locate their businesses to provide jobs and training to people in need—but they also seek to make a profi t, for every business missionary knows that without profi t he quickly becomes an out-of business missionary.

Those who think seriously about missionary work have long known that the great barrier to spreading the Christian gospel is having doors slammed in your face. “About half of the world’s population is inaccessible to traditional missions...about 70 countries and 265 megacities,”
states Crossworld, a Pennsylvania-based group that sends 400 missionaries in 80 teams to 25 mission areas of the world.

According to the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 90 percent of those unreached by the Gospel live in lands where Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism predominate between the 10th and 40th parallels of northern latitude, called the 10/40 Window. In many of these areas proselytizing for Christianity can be a capital ... Read the rest of the article

Janet Maxim is a freelance writer from Myersville, Maryland.

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posted by Justin Forman | 6.09.2009 - 7:55 AM

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