Business as Mission

Business as Mission

Business consultant Mats Tunehag from Sweden shares how he discovered the concept of Business as Mission (BAM) and how this transformed his perspective on God’s global mission.

(The first part of this story was published in last week’s edition)

The tragic events in Rwanda forced me to review our mission. What is the mission of the church? How can we serve people and nations toward a holistic transformation, believing that God can transform individuals and communities, churches and nations? What does it mean to be a Christian in the marketplace? How can we do business as mission, law as mission, education as mission, and city planning as mission? How can we serve God and the common good? 

What does it mean in practice, and what are the lessons learned regarding seeking the shalom and prosperity of cities and nations as stated in Jeremiah 29? How do we affirm, equip, and deploy businesspeople to exercise their gifts of wealth creation for the nations as in Deuteronomy 8?

BAM is a biblical concept that is increasingly being applied around the world in many industries. The two global BAM think-tank processes, starting in 2002, have been instrumental in bringing about global cohesion and an increasing mutual understanding of the concept by gathering Christian leaders in business, church, mission, and academia. This has created an unprecedented connectedness of people and ideas.

The 2009 BAM Think Tank Report can be downloaded here.

Indonesia: how a Muslim village was transformed through prayer, Christian businesspeople, and owls.

Let me share a story from Indonesia, which illustrates the potential transformational power of business. I witnessed firsthand how a Muslim village was transformed through prayer, Christian businesspeople, and owls. 

It was a warm and humid day in Indonesia. One may say almost too hot for a Swede. But the story that emerged was more than cool. I spent a day with the mayor of a small Muslim village. We sat outside his house, drank tea, and nibbled on fruit, nuts, and sweets. He was enthusiastic and composed. As a devout Muslim, he had come to appreciate Christian businesspeople in a way that surprised him. There is a long and sometimes violent history of severe distrust and tension between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia.

The mayor told me that the village used to be quite poor. Rats ate 40 percent of the crops every year, and these creatures also spread disease. Collaboration for irrigation was nonexistent. There was a lack of entrepreneurial spirit, and it seemed that no one thought about praying for a difference.

Then one day, some Christian businesspeople visited the mayor and his village. They wanted to help, and they wanted to build bridges across a religious divide. At first, the mayor declined. Why did businesspeople come and not charity workers or government people? On top of that, these people were Christians – not Muslims.

But one Christian businesswoman suggested that they could at least pray. She said that prayers make a difference; yes, God can make a difference. It was agreed. Something happened, and it became a turning point. The mayor invited them to come back and they did.

Photo: Barn owl birdhouses in the fields of Tlogoweru.

The team of Christian businesspeople did research and explored ways to kill the rats in an environmentally friendly way. They also researched how one could increase the agricultural production and start profitable businesses. 

They found an owl called Tyto alba (barn owl) that eats rats but is also very hard to breed. Some told them it was impossible. But they prayed, conducted research, and it worked. I could see birdhouses everywhere on the fields. Since then the loss of crops has decreased from 40 to 2 percent per year, and new wells and irrigation have doubled the annual yield of rice.

I asked the mayor why they didn’t dig wells and develop irrigation before the businesspeople came. He said that the Christians changed their mindset regarding work and working together, and they first and foremost taught them the importance of prayer, to always start with prayer. “Now we are open to change and we take action,” said the mayor. “But we always start with prayer.”

My Indonesian business friends have started business training courses in the village – based on biblical principles. They have also helped start small manufacturing businesses, improve marketing and sales, and strengthen local infrastructure.

This small village with 2,320 people has now become a model village in Indonesia. National television has portrayed it as a model on how to build bridges between Muslims and Christians, and as a model on how to develop transformational businesses. The village is also now a national learning center on how to breed owls that kill rats.

During my visit, I heard other testimonies on how concrete prayers had led to concrete answers – related to rain, a paved road, a job, a motorcycle, and more.

In a new book titled ‘BAM Global Movement. Business as Mission Concept and Stories’ journalist Gea Gort and business consultant Mats Tunehag explain the BAM concept through theory and theology, along with real-life examples from all over the world.

An exciting journey

Business as Mission has been an exciting journey, both surprising and overwhelming. A rediscovery of biblical truths about work, justice, business, profit, and community. We are witnessing a great reawakening in the church worldwide. May this lead to a reformation, as we shape and reshape our businesses for God and the common good.

Source: Mats Tunehag

  # 1104,  November 11, 2018
# 1104 | 11/20/2018

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