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Telling the Truth will not always get the Business but the World is Watching

By Kent Humphreys - (Based on Matthew 5:33-37) Last year while traveling in Jakarta, Indonesia, I shared a taxi with three other people. I ended up sitting in the back seat with a pastor who introduced himself and stated that he was from Cape Town, South Africa. I told him that we would be there a couple of months later. We shared business cards, and he subsequently arranged for us to come to his church while we were in the country. He personally called sixty business leaders, and on a stormy night, all sixty showed up. After our presentation, he made the following statement; “In the past, we have not emphasized workplace ministry, but I want you to be in a weekly group and even to lead one.” Before the meeting he made soup in the church kitchen and served us. After the meeting we had coffee, after which he took us on a tour of his clinics. During the tour, he told us the following story.

Five years ago he was told that in the black communities within blocks of his church, 44% of the people were HIV positive. As a pastor of a predominately white church, he felt called to action. Under his leadership, the church began an AIDS counseling program and established clinics. Four years later, they built a first class clinic for the critically ill, primarily those with HIV. The average patient is there two weeks before death. Each is treated with respect and loving care. Many find Christ. Establishing that clinic meant stopping progress on their own new church building, and funneling the finances into the clinic. They now have 61 paid staff in the HIV ministry either running clinics or doing counseling. Many are located in the government buildings. John’s church spends 40% of their church budget outside the four walls in their surrounding community. What percentage does your church spend?

Last year their “New Hope” Ministry applied for a U.S. government grant. There were 450 other applicants from South Africa. It took a year to complete all of the paperwork. During the process, the application asked for written priorities of the program. John listed as the #1 priority “to bring people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and #2, “to combat HIV/ AIDS”. John’s friends, staff, and board encouraged him not to list that as the number one objective. Even though it was known that the Bush Administration was positive toward “faith based ministries”, most felt that John needed to be more low key about stating their real purpose. John prayed and wrestled for weeks, but finally felt led to not change the written priorities. His reasoning: if they were awarded the grant under false pretenses, then they could be prohibited from doing priority #1.

The week before we arrived, John’s church received word that they were one of the eighteen grant winners. Seven members of the Bush team flew to Cape Town to visit John’s church services and the clinics. John found out that sixteen of the winners were hospital or research based and the seventeenth was another non-profit. John’s ministry was the only “faith based” ministry to have won a grant. As the team left on that Sunday afternoon, Pastor John asked the U.S. team leader why their ministry was the only “faith based” ministry chosen. He responded, “That’s easy. You were the only one to tell the truth. The others tried to hide their real motives, but you put your true intentions up front. We knew that if someone will mislead us on the application, they would not be truthful on the grant reporting.” John learned a valuable lesson on integrity. Telling the truth will not always get the business, but the secular world is watching us to see if our words and actions show integrity. This pastor in a church in Cape Town, South Africa, gave us as business leaders a lesson in integrity.

Kent is the longtime leader of Fellowship of Companies for Christ International, a great group that is looking to connect business and ministry together. I encourage you to check out their website by clicking here.

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posted by Justin Forman | 6.02.2009 - 7:24 AM

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