Imagine an impoverished Central Asian country. Extended-family households scattered across the mountainous terrain have virtually no men present because they are all across the border in Russia, looking for work to provide for those left behind.

While away, however, these men become addicted to alcohol, frequent houses of prostitution (where they catch HIV/AIDS as a bonus), and burn up their hard-earned cash instead of sending it home. How to begin tackling such a huge problem? Well, what about starting an adventure tourism company that will provide employment to fifty or more households and give dignified labour to repatriated husbands, fathers, uncles and sons, while modelling a godly lifestyle and a message of hope?

Imagine one of the neediest countries in Southeast Asia. Food crops yield poor harvests, and many eke out a meagre existence living hand to mouth as they have done for generations. Think about the possibilities for good from establishing an agribusiness to provide training and enhanced income to a thousand farmers – and add to that the food security for five to ten times that number, all without handouts, charity or other dependencycreating approaches. And, the exciting potential for a steady and far-reaching response to the message of the gospel, shared by local Christians involved in the business.

Imagine a neglected and run down nation in the Middle East. Commonly held perceptions of foreigners are tinged by a deep (and sometimes justifiably earned) strain of xenophobia, yet the ability to speak English is ‘the ticket’ out of poverty, and into future job opportunities. There is no officially recognised church, but there is a for-profit language institute owned and run by expatriate followers of Jesus. Day in and day out, locals begin to discover in their workplace (in a non-threatening manner) what the good news of Jesus looks and feels like, as these strangers prove to be trustworthy, friendly and loving, while paying their bills, keeping their appointments, honouring their word, and modelling a different standard of work.

These are just some of the amazing possibilities illustrating a major, global movement of God’s Spirit referred to as “Business as Mission”, or BAM.

The church has often been suspicious of profit-making business. Christians have reacted against the colonialism of the past which often used mission activity to assist commercial expansion. More recently, concerned at the apparent failure of globalization to equitably deliver on its promises, they have watched in dismay at the exploitation of the poor by unethical multinational corporations.

Unfortunately this overlooks the fact that there are large numbers of ethically-run businesses led by godly women and men, to the great benefit of many individuals and whole communities. Business can, and should be ethical, and demonstrate the truth of the Christian faith in genuine love for God and neighbour.

Businesses are an essential and indispensable part of society. And they will continue to be, whether Christians participate in them or not – so why should they not be part of Christian missional activity? The redemptive power of the gospel influencing every part of society like salt and light – including the business sector – is intrinsic to the very nature of our ministry as followers of Christ. Business does not just serve the goals of ministry – it is ministry!

We in Interserve believe that facilitating Christians in business is part of God’s plan for world mission today, and are engaged in strategic initiatives to enable us to respond to this challenge. Among the many reasons for this conviction are the following:

● Providing capital to neglected markets, and creating meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities, is a demonstration of human kindness grounded in the just and creative character of God. The prophetic admonition to love justice, do kindness, and walk humbly with our God is a foundational plank for our practice of Business as Mission.

● Modelling successful business grounded in God’s truth is a tangible witness to the transforming character of the gospel: we live in a cynical age in which the “power of God unto salvation”, the good news of Jesus Christ, must be demonstrated for its proclamation to be believed.

● Increasingly the ‘ecclesia’, the people of God, are to be found on the shop floor, in factories, and in other work settings, especially so in countries where suspicion and hostility to the gospel is strong, and where the building of official places for Christian worship has no government sanction or protection.

● Some of the most natural and credible opportunities to evangelise – to “gossip the gospel” – and to disciple men and women are amongst the employees, suppliers and customers of businesses led and participated in by committed Christians.

In summary, we are committed to Business as Mission in a dignified, credible, and sensitive manner so that the church of Christ might be established and strengthened for His glory.

The author has been involved in global mission for 35 years. He leads a global investment fund providing financial capital, mentoring services, and human resources to small to medium size companies in the Arab world and Asia. Please contact the Interserve office for more information.

I am a business woman working alongside Muslims, not only as a colleague, but also as an employer. I am based in New Zealand, but also conduct business in several Muslim countries. Widowed at the age of 34, with two young children, I never dreamed I would end up here…

My introduction to this world was stumbled upon shortly after our family’s return to New Zealand: we had moved to the outskirts of Auckland, and I had to drive the girls to and from school. One warm, sunny afternoon, returning home from school, I noticed three children walking along the side of the road. Home was obviously quite a distance from school, so I stopped and asked them if they wanted a ride. They looked a little nervous, so to reassure them I gave the oldest child my phone number and suggested meeting their parents to ask their permission.

Shortly after arriving home I received a phone call to say their father was ready to see me! Minutes later I stood knocking on the door of an old farm house. As it opened gingerly, a small black-clothed figure scurried away into the shadows, and there appeared before me a tall, striking Pashtun man. Once inside the house, I was ushered into a bare room where the only furniture consisted of an assortment of old chairs that lined each wall. Male friends of the family were already gathered in the room, waiting to meet me. I was the only woman present. Smiling rather nervously, I took my place, and questions began to flow. Eventually they moved onto the number of children I had, and whether I had a son. On finding out I didn’t have a son and wasn’t planning on having more children, they quickly suggested that my husband would appreciate it if I changed my mind and tried again. I politely thanked them for their concern.

The tension seemed to disperse, though, once they learned my younger daughter’s name: a warm banter bounced from one wall to the other, until it stopped at my host who asked me where I had got her name. He then explained that her name came from the Northern province of their country, the province my host called home! It means ‘brightness’, in particular the brightness of God. Translated, we would call it His Glory – WOW! The warmth of the Holy Spirit touched me as I drove home afterwards, and I sensed this meeting somehow was going to change my life. Muslims? God, are You sure? I didn’t know anything about Muslims, but a door was opening and, curious, I stepped on through.

Unbeknownst to me then, the host would, in time, become my dear friend. I quickly discovered him to be incredibly opinionated: once, losing control in a friendly debate, he exclaimed with intense frustration, “I’m glad I meet you here in NZ, because if I had met you in my country, I may have already put a knife in your back!”

Unsure if he was actually serious or not, I responded with nervous laughter and surprise – “You really are my warrior brother and I love you!” He then broke into a huge smile, delighted by his new title.

My business life started while helping out a Muslim friend in a small retail shop/café, and I realized I had found my passion! When that business was sold, another Muslim friend asked if I’d consider managing a business he was looking at buying, right in the central business district. After much prayer, I agreed to accept the challenge! I am currently one of the directors, with a staff of nine. Most of our staff are Muslim, with the exception of two, but even they grew up in Muslim countries.

At times it’s difficult for my male employees to have a women boss, and equally difficult for me. I don’t believe that I’m actually considered to be totally woman – but I’m definitely not male – I think I’m placed in a category all of my own. This actually has its advantages, as I can move from male to female domains with relative ease, even when I travel in Muslim countries. I do find it interesting that Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, was a business women, and yet Islam in so many countries discourages female education, let alone female careers!

I acknowledge working on New Zealand turf gives me an easier road than working overseas, but working with people who have completely different value systems still has its challenges. Thankfully the Word of God is full of good advice on how to manage our personal lives, our finances, and how to interact with others. During my first couple of years in business I studied the book of Proverbs – I’d go through a chapter a day. I also became more conscious of the need for the fruit of the Spirit to be daily outworked in my life – I really believe that the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ encapsulates the nature of Immanuel, the Christ we want others to see.

I feel I have been incredibly blessed. There have been many precious afternoons where our tearoom at work has filled with friends who stayed on into the night… lots of eating, drinking, talking and laughter as we shared in each others lives. Often it’s in this warm, friendly hub, as I listen to their stories, that I get to see beyond the gulf of religious and cultural differences, and I see their hearts. As the frustration and busyness of the day melts away, God reminds me of His love for each of them, and His desire to be known by them – what a privilege to have a chair in our tearoom!

We’re quite an interesting bunch, so let me introduce you to some of my business family: the dearest Afghan gentleman, who’s deeply concerned on how to bring both of his wives to New Zealand; the loveable Iranian rogue who hides ‘halal’ whiskey behind the fridge and teases the more dedicated Muslim, who won’t join him in a drink but admits to never buying anything off a Muslim if he can help it; the mocking, hard young man who defends Islam yet lives an immoral life; and the crazy, personable Casanova who has mixed Islam and Buddhism and believes he’s a prophet. You can see why I hesitate when asked to explain what a Muslim believes on a certain topic – telling you what the Qur’an says is no problem, but what individual Muslims believe… that’s different. It’s so important that we get to know and understand each person God has put into our lives as being unique, and not assume we know exactly what they believe just because we can categorise them.

Dabbling cross culturally can initially be somewhat of a romantic and alluring experience. It’s as we move from curiosity to a commitment that we find ourselves stretched uncomfortably at times. My commitment to cross-cultural involvement, and then business, has been the vehicle God has used to unravel my human frailty. It’s been in this place that I have come to understand God’s grace in my life and, in turn, for others, in a far deeper measure. This painful inner transformation has been His greatest gift to me – I thought I was going out to change the world, and ended up seeing the greatest change happen in me!

As believers in God’s unfathomable creativeness in making each of us unique, tailored for His purposes – why do we continue to be surprised when He chooses that different path for us? That warm, sunny afternoon when I thought I was just stopping to offer three children a ride home, I had no idea that God was about to lead me down a path that not many others have journeyed on.

But all followers of Christ are ‘born again’ with that mission to love Him and make Him known – and if business is your business, then that’s obviously the place to make Him known. As Christ-centred business people we can help those around us understand and appreciate justice, the boundaries of freedom, and the many beautiful attributes that can only be experienced in Him.

The author is currently located in New Zealand where she continues to develop her business and shares her life with many in the Muslim community. She also spends time in the Middle East.

I am a business woman working alongside Muslims, not only as a colleague, but also as an employer. I am based in New Zealand, but also conduct business in several Muslim countries. Widowed at the age of 34, with two young children, I never dreamed I would end up here…

My introduction to this world was stumbled upon shortly after our family’s return to New Zealand: we had moved to the outskirts of Auckland, and I had to drive the girls to and from school. One warm, sunny afternoon, returning home from school, I noticed three children walking along the side of the road. Home was obviously quite a distance from school, so I stopped and asked them if they wanted a ride. They looked a little nervous, so to reassure them I gave the oldest child my phone number and suggested meeting their parents to ask their permission.

Shortly after arriving home I received a phone call to say their father was ready to see me! Minutes later I stood knocking on the door of an old farm house. As it opened gingerly, a small black-clothed figure scurried away into the shadows, and there appeared before me a tall, striking Pashtun man. Once inside the house, I was ushered into a bare room where the only furniture consisted of an assortment of old chairs that lined each wall. Male friends of the family were already gathered in the room, waiting to meet me. I was the only woman present. Smiling rather nervously, I took my place, and questions began to flow. Eventually they moved onto the number of children I had, and whether I had a son. On finding out I didn’t have a son and wasn’t planning on having more children, they quickly suggested that my husband would appreciate it if I changed my mind and tried again. I politely thanked them for their concern.

The tension seemed to disperse, though, once they learned my younger daughter’s name: a warm banter bounced from one wall to the other, until it stopped at my host who asked me where I had got her name. He then explained that her name came from the Northern province of their country, the province my host called home! It means ‘brightness’, in particular the brightness of God. Translated, we would call it His Glory – WOW! The warmth of the Holy Spirit touched me as I drove home afterwards, and I sensed this meeting somehow was going to change my life. Muslims? God, are You sure? I didn’t know anything about Muslims, but a door was opening and, curious, I stepped on through.

Unbeknownst to me then, the host would, in time, become my dear friend. I quickly discovered him to be incredibly opinionated: once, losing control in a friendly debate, he exclaimed with intense frustration, “I’m glad I meet you here in NZ, because if I had met you in my country, I may have already put a knife in your back!”

Unsure if he was actually serious or not, I responded with nervous laughter and surprise – “You really are my warrior brother and I love you!” He then broke into a huge smile, delighted by his new title.

My business life started while helping out a Muslim friend in a small retail shop/café, and I realized I had found my passion! When that business was sold, another Muslim friend asked if I’d consider managing a business he was looking at buying, right in the central business district. After much prayer, I agreed to accept the challenge! I am currently one of the directors, with a staff of nine. Most of our staff are Muslim, with the exception of two, but even they grew up in Muslim countries.

At times it’s difficult for my male employees to have a women boss, and equally difficult for me. I don’t believe that I’m actually considered to be totally woman – but I’m definitely not male – I think I’m placed in a category all of my own. This actually has its advantages, as I can move from male to female domains with relative ease, even when I travel in Muslim countries. I do find it interesting that Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, was a business women, and yet Islam in so many countries discourages female education, let alone female careers!

I acknowledge working on New Zealand turf gives me an easier road than working overseas, but working with people who have completely different value systems still has its challenges. Thankfully the Word of God is full of good advice on how to manage our personal lives, our finances, and how to interact with others. During my first couple of years in business I studied the book of Proverbs – I’d go through a chapter a day. I also became more conscious of the need for the fruit of the Spirit to be daily outworked in my life – I really believe that the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ encapsulates the nature of Immanuel, the Christ we want others to see.

I feel I have been incredibly blessed. There have been many precious afternoons where our tearoom at work has filled with friends who stayed on into the night… lots of eating, drinking, talking and laughter as we shared in each others lives. Often it’s in this warm, friendly hub, as I listen to their stories, that I get to see beyond the gulf of religious and cultural differences, and I see their hearts. As the frustration and busyness of the day melts away, God reminds me of His love for each of them, and His desire to be known by them – what a privilege to have a chair in our tearoom!

We’re quite an interesting bunch, so let me introduce you to some of my business family: the dearest Afghan gentleman, who’s deeply concerned on how to bring both of his wives to New Zealand; the loveable Iranian rogue who hides ‘halal’ whiskey behind the fridge and teases the more dedicated Muslim, who won’t join him in a drink but admits to never buying anything off a Muslim if he can help it; the mocking, hard young man who defends Islam yet lives an immoral life; and the crazy, personable Casanova who has mixed Islam and Buddhism and believes he’s a prophet. You can see why I hesitate when asked to explain what a Muslim believes on a certain topic – telling you what the Qur’an says is no problem, but what individual Muslims believe… that’s different. It’s so important that we get to know and understand each person God has put into our lives as being unique, and not assume we know exactly what they believe just because we can categorise them.

Dabbling cross culturally can initially be somewhat of a romantic and alluring experience. It’s as we move from curiosity to a commitment that we find ourselves stretched uncomfortably at times. My commitment to cross-cultural involvement, and then business, has been the vehicle God has used to unravel my human frailty. It’s been in this place that I have come to understand God’s grace in my life and, in turn, for others, in a far deeper measure. This painful inner transformation has been His greatest gift to me – I thought I was going out to change the world, and ended up seeing the greatest change happen in me!

As believers in God’s unfathomable creativeness in making each of us unique, tailored for His purposes – why do we continue to be surprised when He chooses that different path for us? That warm, sunny afternoon when I thought I was just stopping to offer three children a ride home, I had no idea that God was about to lead me down a path that not many others have journeyed on.

But all followers of Christ are ‘born again’ with that mission to love Him and make Him known – and if business is your business, then that’s obviously the place to make Him known. As Christ-centred business people we can help those around us understand and appreciate justice, the boundaries of freedom, and the many beautiful attributes that can only be experienced in Him.

The author is currently located in New Zealand where she continues to develop her business and shares her life with many in the Muslim community. She also spends time in the Middle East.

I am a business woman working alongside Muslims, not only as a colleague, but also as an employer. I am based in New Zealand, but also conduct business in several Muslim countries. Widowed at the age of 34, with two young children, I never dreamed I would end up here…

My introduction to this world was stumbled upon shortly after our family’s return to New Zealand: we had moved to the outskirts of Auckland, and I had to drive the girls to and from school. One warm, sunny afternoon, returning home from school, I noticed three children walking along the side of the road. Home was obviously quite a distance from school, so I stopped and asked them if they wanted a ride. They looked a little nervous, so to reassure them I gave the oldest child my phone number and suggested meeting their parents to ask their permission.

Shortly after arriving home I received a phone call to say their father was ready to see me! Minutes later I stood knocking on the door of an old farm house. As it opened gingerly, a small black-clothed figure scurried away into the shadows, and there appeared before me a tall, striking Pashtun man. Once inside the house, I was ushered into a bare room where the only furniture consisted of an assortment of old chairs that lined each wall. Male friends of the family were already gathered in the room, waiting to meet me. I was the only woman present. Smiling rather nervously, I took my place, and questions began to flow. Eventually they moved onto the number of children I had, and whether I had a son. On finding out I didn’t have a son and wasn’t planning on having more children, they quickly suggested that my husband would appreciate it if I changed my mind and tried again. I politely thanked them for their concern.

The tension seemed to disperse, though, once they learned my younger daughter’s name: a warm banter bounced from one wall to the other, until it stopped at my host who asked me where I had got her name. He then explained that her name came from the Northern province of their country, the province my host called home! It means ‘brightness’, in particular the brightness of God. Translated, we would call it His Glory – WOW! The warmth of the Holy Spirit touched me as I drove home afterwards, and I sensed this meeting somehow was going to change my life. Muslims? God, are You sure? I didn’t know anything about Muslims, but a door was opening and, curious, I stepped on through.

Unbeknownst to me then, the host would, in time, become my dear friend. I quickly discovered him to be incredibly opinionated: once, losing control in a friendly debate, he exclaimed with intense frustration, “I’m glad I meet you here in NZ, because if I had met you in my country, I may have already put a knife in your back!”

Unsure if he was actually serious or not, I responded with nervous laughter and surprise – “You really are my warrior brother and I love you!” He then broke into a huge smile, delighted by his new title.

My business life started while helping out a Muslim friend in a small retail shop/café, and I realized I had found my passion! When that business was sold, another Muslim friend asked if I’d consider managing a business he was looking at buying, right in the central business district. After much prayer, I agreed to accept the challenge! I am currently one of the directors, with a staff of nine. Most of our staff are Muslim, with the exception of two, but even they grew up in Muslim countries.

At times it’s difficult for my male employees to have a women boss, and equally difficult for me. I don’t believe that I’m actually considered to be totally woman – but I’m definitely not male – I think I’m placed in a category all of my own. This actually has its advantages, as I can move from male to female domains with relative ease, even when I travel in Muslim countries. I do find it interesting that Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, was a business women, and yet Islam in so many countries discourages female education, let alone female careers!

I acknowledge working on New Zealand turf gives me an easier road than working overseas, but working with people who have completely different value systems still has its challenges. Thankfully the Word of God is full of good advice on how to manage our personal lives, our finances, and how to interact with others. During my first couple of years in business I studied the book of Proverbs – I’d go through a chapter a day. I also became more conscious of the need for the fruit of the Spirit to be daily outworked in my life – I really believe that the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ encapsulates the nature of Immanuel, the Christ we want others to see.

I feel I have been incredibly blessed. There have been many precious afternoons where our tearoom at work has filled with friends who stayed on into the night… lots of eating, drinking, talking and laughter as we shared in each others lives. Often it’s in this warm, friendly hub, as I listen to their stories, that I get to see beyond the gulf of religious and cultural differences, and I see their hearts. As the frustration and busyness of the day melts away, God reminds me of His love for each of them, and His desire to be known by them – what a privilege to have a chair in our tearoom!

We’re quite an interesting bunch, so let me introduce you to some of my business family: the dearest Afghan gentleman, who’s deeply concerned on how to bring both of his wives to New Zealand; the loveable Iranian rogue who hides ‘halal’ whiskey behind the fridge and teases the more dedicated Muslim, who won’t join him in a drink but admits to never buying anything off a Muslim if he can help it; the mocking, hard young man who defends Islam yet lives an immoral life; and the crazy, personable Casanova who has mixed Islam and Buddhism and believes he’s a prophet. You can see why I hesitate when asked to explain what a Muslim believes on a certain topic – telling you what the Qur’an says is no problem, but what individual Muslims believe… that’s different. It’s so important that we get to know and understand each person God has put into our lives as being unique, and not assume we know exactly what they believe just because we can categorise them.

Dabbling cross culturally can initially be somewhat of a romantic and alluring experience. It’s as we move from curiosity to a commitment that we find ourselves stretched uncomfortably at times. My commitment to cross-cultural involvement, and then business, has been the vehicle God has used to unravel my human frailty. It’s been in this place that I have come to understand God’s grace in my life and, in turn, for others, in a far deeper measure. This painful inner transformation has been His greatest gift to me – I thought I was going out to change the world, and ended up seeing the greatest change happen in me!

As believers in God’s unfathomable creativeness in making each of us unique, tailored for His purposes – why do we continue to be surprised when He chooses that different path for us? That warm, sunny afternoon when I thought I was just stopping to offer three children a ride home, I had no idea that God was about to lead me down a path that not many others have journeyed on.

But all followers of Christ are ‘born again’ with that mission to love Him and make Him known – and if business is your business, then that’s obviously the place to make Him known. As Christ-centred business people we can help those around us understand and appreciate justice, the boundaries of freedom, and the many beautiful attributes that can only be experienced in Him.

The author is currently located in New Zealand where she continues to develop her business and shares her life with many in the Muslim community. She also spends time in the Middle East.

I am a business woman working alongside Muslims, not only as a colleague, but also as an employer. I am based in New Zealand, but also conduct business in several Muslim countries. Widowed at the age of 34, with two young children, I never dreamed I would end up here…

My introduction to this world was stumbled upon shortly after our family’s return to New Zealand: we had moved to the outskirts of Auckland, and I had to drive the girls to and from school. One warm, sunny afternoon, returning home from school, I noticed three children walking along the side of the road. Home was obviously quite a distance from school, so I stopped and asked them if they wanted a ride. They looked a little nervous, so to reassure them I gave the oldest child my phone number and suggested meeting their parents to ask their permission.

Shortly after arriving home I received a phone call to say their father was ready to see me! Minutes later I stood knocking on the door of an old farm house. As it opened gingerly, a small black-clothed figure scurried away into the shadows, and there appeared before me a tall, striking Pashtun man. Once inside the house, I was ushered into a bare room where the only furniture consisted of an assortment of old chairs that lined each wall. Male friends of the family were already gathered in the room, waiting to meet me. I was the only woman present. Smiling rather nervously, I took my place, and questions began to flow. Eventually they moved onto the number of children I had, and whether I had a son. On finding out I didn’t have a son and wasn’t planning on having more children, they quickly suggested that my husband would appreciate it if I changed my mind and tried again. I politely thanked them for their concern.

The tension seemed to disperse, though, once they learned my younger daughter’s name: a warm banter bounced from one wall to the other, until it stopped at my host who asked me where I had got her name. He then explained that her name came from the Northern province of their country, the province my host called home! It means ‘brightness’, in particular the brightness of God. Translated, we would call it His Glory – WOW! The warmth of the Holy Spirit touched me as I drove home afterwards, and I sensed this meeting somehow was going to change my life. Muslims? God, are You sure? I didn’t know anything about Muslims, but a door was opening and, curious, I stepped on through.

Unbeknownst to me then, the host would, in time, become my dear friend. I quickly discovered him to be incredibly opinionated: once, losing control in a friendly debate, he exclaimed with intense frustration, “I’m glad I meet you here in NZ, because if I had met you in my country, I may have already put a knife in your back!”

Unsure if he was actually serious or not, I responded with nervous laughter and surprise – “You really are my warrior brother and I love you!” He then broke into a huge smile, delighted by his new title.

My business life started while helping out a Muslim friend in a small retail shop/café, and I realized I had found my passion! When that business was sold, another Muslim friend asked if I’d consider managing a business he was looking at buying, right in the central business district. After much prayer, I agreed to accept the challenge! I am currently one of the directors, with a staff of nine. Most of our staff are Muslim, with the exception of two, but even they grew up in Muslim countries.

At times it’s difficult for my male employees to have a women boss, and equally difficult for me. I don’t believe that I’m actually considered to be totally woman – but I’m definitely not male – I think I’m placed in a category all of my own. This actually has its advantages, as I can move from male to female domains with relative ease, even when I travel in Muslim countries. I do find it interesting that Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, was a business women, and yet Islam in so many countries discourages female education, let alone female careers!

I acknowledge working on New Zealand turf gives me an easier road than working overseas, but working with people who have completely different value systems still has its challenges. Thankfully the Word of God is full of good advice on how to manage our personal lives, our finances, and how to interact with others. During my first couple of years in business I studied the book of Proverbs – I’d go through a chapter a day. I also became more conscious of the need for the fruit of the Spirit to be daily outworked in my life – I really believe that the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ encapsulates the nature of Immanuel, the Christ we want others to see.

I feel I have been incredibly blessed. There have been many precious afternoons where our tearoom at work has filled with friends who stayed on into the night… lots of eating, drinking, talking and laughter as we shared in each others lives. Often it’s in this warm, friendly hub, as I listen to their stories, that I get to see beyond the gulf of religious and cultural differences, and I see their hearts. As the frustration and busyness of the day melts away, God reminds me of His love for each of them, and His desire to be known by them – what a privilege to have a chair in our tearoom!

We’re quite an interesting bunch, so let me introduce you to some of my business family: the dearest Afghan gentleman, who’s deeply concerned on how to bring both of his wives to New Zealand; the loveable Iranian rogue who hides ‘halal’ whiskey behind the fridge and teases the more dedicated Muslim, who won’t join him in a drink but admits to never buying anything off a Muslim if he can help it; the mocking, hard young man who defends Islam yet lives an immoral life; and the crazy, personable Casanova who has mixed Islam and Buddhism and believes he’s a prophet. You can see why I hesitate when asked to explain what a Muslim believes on a certain topic – telling you what the Qur’an says is no problem, but what individual Muslims believe… that’s different. It’s so important that we get to know and understand each person God has put into our lives as being unique, and not assume we know exactly what they believe just because we can categorise them.

Dabbling cross culturally can initially be somewhat of a romantic and alluring experience. It’s as we move from curiosity to a commitment that we find ourselves stretched uncomfortably at times. My commitment to cross-cultural involvement, and then business, has been the vehicle God has used to unravel my human frailty. It’s been in this place that I have come to understand God’s grace in my life and, in turn, for others, in a far deeper measure. This painful inner transformation has been His greatest gift to me – I thought I was going out to change the world, and ended up seeing the greatest change happen in me!

As believers in God’s unfathomable creativeness in making each of us unique, tailored for His purposes – why do we continue to be surprised when He chooses that different path for us? That warm, sunny afternoon when I thought I was just stopping to offer three children a ride home, I had no idea that God was about to lead me down a path that not many others have journeyed on.

But all followers of Christ are ‘born again’ with that mission to love Him and make Him known – and if business is your business, then that’s obviously the place to make Him known. As Christ-centred business people we can help those around us understand and appreciate justice, the boundaries of freedom, and the many beautiful attributes that can only be experienced in Him.

The author is currently located in New Zealand where she continues to develop her business and shares her life with many in the Muslim community. She also spends time in the Middle East.

Business – making money by providing a service or product that people need or want – is an age-old practice but one that seems to have fallen mostly outside the parameters of modern mission.

But it wasn’t always like that. Paul, as the founder of New Testament mission, established a very good pattern as a maker of tents. William Carey, the father of modern mission, lived out this pattern in his business too – first in the cobbler’s shop, then a printing press and other businesses he pioneered in India. And the Moravians of Eastern Germany let their business endeavours create a wide range of mission opportunities.

Business as Mission (BAM) is really not a new paradigm of how to do mission – it has just been re-emerging in recent years. It does, however, require a radical mind-set change from the sending church, the receiving church and the mission community. BAM is part of the next wave of mission methodology: a vehicle to ensure the right people are in the right place, and to provide opportunities for a new wave of ‘harvest labourers’ to engage in a world that is in many places closed to the more traditional methods of sharing Christ.

During the span of my own working life professional skills have always opened the doors for me, allowing me to work in different countries and cultures in the Pacific and Asia, and to be self-supporting while involved in cross-cultural church planting, both directly and indirectly (through training).

I now run my own business instead of working for an employer – an arrangement which has proved to be of immense value within the context of Kingdom extension, as it allows me to commit 40% of my time to a more missional cross-cultural setting.

This is how it works: I have several contracts in NZ and Asia – the NZ contracts provide bread and butter and the Asian contracts pay airfares, daily fees, and living allowance – and provide a way for me to visit a particular Asian country several times a year. The business projects are treated like any other frontline business venture: I work hard while onsite, and continue to move the project task along while offsite through daily emails and skype. Alongside of, and integrated within, the business projects is my missional involvement – again my offsite contribution continues through the same technology. This is a model of how nonresident mission activity can be achieved through modern technology, no matter what the location.

Asia is all about networks and business. Having a job/business gives credibility and having a business that creates local wealth gives mana. It is in this context that questions are asked and the good news spreads.

My friends, Fred and Mary, went to a city in South East Asia as youth/social workers. After scores of comments from the local community along the lines of “Why have you come to convert us?”, they realised their role and status were not effective. So in their second term they moved to a different city and set up a business using the professional skills from their university training. The city mayor hosted a welcome function for them, and business is good! Not only are they now an accepted part of the community and adding value to it, but they also have more conversations on a daily basis about their faith than they care to count.

I have another expat friend living in the same region who has set up an enterprise that provides essential services. It is organised so that all in the small city share in the benefits. He employs skilled national staff who received their training outside the area, and who also possess UPG (unreached people group) church planting skills. They all live and work in that setting, go about their daily business, and let their work open the doors into people’s lives.

Businesses that operate ethically always stand out, because how you do business is just as important as the business itself. The key to BAM’s success is rooted in the motivation behind it: when you operate a credible business with integrity, adding value to the local community, the “why” questions will always come up.

A BAMer is not quite the type of person who would have been the ideal candidate to fill a mission vacancy in the 1960s – no, BAMers are indeed a new breed. Most people involved in BAM in the Asia-Pacific region are not headliners – they are headsdown and doing it, with results that are often only noticed by the angels, who rejoice as through a BAMer’s credibility and acceptance, their conversation becomes life to another.

The openings for BAM in Asia are real, and the ways of doing business are wide and varied. On one hand are people like Fred and Mary, who have uprooted and shifted to their chosen country, set up a business, and settled in for the long haul. This is BAM 24/7 Asia style, and suits those who have (even rudimentary) business skills plus the talent to adapt their lifestyle to suit a crosscultural setting.

On the other hand is the model I have adopted: I have my base outside the country, but my business is structured to enable me to make very regular onsite trips. While there, I deliver the promised product/ service, and it is during those interactions in the work context – the conversations, the shared living – that I “gossip the good news”. Critical cross-cultural skills, contextualised conversations, and language adeptness are vital in this scenario. This BAM model suits someone with a wealth of experience, who would like to use their business skills to help transform lives and communities.

Whatever the mode (resident or non-resident style) the credibility from doing business is paramount, and relationships are the key. In this I have found it immensely satisfying to use the skills God has given me to work in ‘nontraditional’ mission activity. If you feel inspired by the possibilities raised in this article, and would like to learn more about becoming involved, I would love to talk to you – please do get in contact.

The author has a long track record in the educational business sector as well as missions; he can be contacted through the local Interserve office.

Poverty, illiteracy, and disease are some of the tragedies of our day, and of the millions of people impacted each year, women are amongst the most vulnerable.

These three global problems are deeply intertwined. Poor, uneducated women cannot easily find jobs in the established labour markets, and so are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.

Yet there is hope: one particularly powerful way to impact the lives of those struggling to eke out an existence is through business – sustainable businesses that encourage entrepreneurship, and extend to people the means to find dignity in respectable work, and to provide for their families.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2006 Report on Women and Entrepreneurship notes that there are two basic types of entrepreneurship drivers – opportunity and necessity. Opportunity entrepreneurship is that which springs from a gap in the market being identified and someone creating a business to address that need or want. Necessity entrepreneurship is initiated when individuals experience a lack of real or satisfactory options in the established labour markets. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of entrepreneurship practiced by women in developing nations is that driven by necessity, representing an important means to avoid unemployment and, in some countries, to escape poverty.

One inspirational role model in the fight against poverty, Mohammed Yunus, pioneered in Bangladesh the use of micro-credit to stimulate business and entrepreneurship through the bank he founded in the early 1980s. Through Grameen Bank, customers (over 90% women) are able to access micro-loans to use as seed money to start their own businesses. These women use their funds to invest in viable businesses such as manufacturing pottery, weaving and garment sewing etc.

Yunus’ experience over the last three decades has shown that women who are given a chance, while also being held accountable in a supportive environment, have proven to be reliable workers and smart entrepreneurs. A Google search of ‘microfinance, Christian organisation’ shows that Yunus is not alone in this approach: Christians also are engaged in encouraging entrepreneurship and alleviating poverty in this manner.

Another business-based approach is to establish operations in developing countries that apply fair practices to employees and suppliers: reasonable wages and workloads enable workers to care for themselves, their families and communities. Irish pop rock icon, Bono, the lead singer for the band ‘U2’, is a renowned advocate of this approach.

Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, are Christians who have been challenged to contribute towards alleviating poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Over the years Bono has struggled with how his faith in Christ could be applied to combat major world problems, such as poverty, in places where the traditional local church hadn’t been able to make a significant impact. In an interview with Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church), he shared that while he’s no Mother Theresa, he believes that God has given him a currency – fame – which is what he can use to make a difference.

What particularly inspires me about Bono and Ali’s work is that they are not giving handouts or ‘aid’ – instead they have chosen ‘trade’: to invest in the economy of the African country of Lesotho, as an example, to create jobs and thereby provide a way out of poverty.

While you might be familiar with their story so far, I’ll recap the highlights. In 2005, Bono and Ali started a clothing business, Edun Apparel. Through Edun they are extending the apparel value chain to include African cotton growers by paying fair prices for their cotton, while also training them in sustainable agriculture practices in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society. The cotton is manufactured into material and then made into T-shirts by African apparel workers in Lesotho. Besides providing good jobs, they partner with other organisations to help provide medication for those suffering from HIV/AIDS, malaria and other preventable diseases.

In the context of mission today, there is increasing momentum towards acknowledging the value of business in addressing people’s physical and economic needs. Business is a worthwhile mission: it need not be viewed only as an enabler so the ‘real’ work can be done after hours. Helping women find their dignity as human beings by encouraging and/or establishing places of respectable employment is a worthy endeavour. Perhaps we can think of God-honouring businesses as being a form of salt. Salt changes the flavour of its environment – even though you can’t always see it, you know it’s active because of the change in taste.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we (believers in Christ) are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. That is our destiny – to do good works. So the question I’ve been asking myself is – God, what have You prepared for me to do? And, more specifically, a question which I’d challenge you to consider with me – have You prepared me to do good works through business to positively impact the lives of women in the developing world?

May He clearly guide each one of us.

The author is a business woman, and board member on the Interserve NZ Council. For more information: www.one.org, www.edunonline.com, www.grameen.com, www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

Business – making money by providing a service or product that people need or want – is an age-old practice but one that seems to have fallen mostly outside the parameters of modern mission.

But it wasn’t always like that. Paul, as the founder of New Testament mission, established a very good pattern as a maker of tents. William Carey, the father of modern mission, lived out this pattern in his business too – first in the cobbler’s shop, then a printing press and other businesses he pioneered in India. And the Moravians of Eastern Germany let their business endeavours create a wide range of mission opportunities.

Business as Mission (BAM) is really not a new paradigm of how to do mission – it has just been re-emerging in recent years. It does, however, require a radical mind-set change from the sending church, the receiving church and the mission community. BAM is part of the next wave of mission methodology: a vehicle to ensure the right people are in the right place, and to provide opportunities for a new wave of ‘harvest labourers’ to engage in a world that is in many places closed to the more traditional methods of sharing Christ.

During the span of my own working life professional skills have always opened the doors for me, allowing me to work in different countries and cultures in the Pacific and Asia, and to be self-supporting while involved in cross-cultural church planting, both directly and indirectly (through training).

I now run my own business instead of working for an employer – an arrangement which has proved to be of immense value within the context of Kingdom extension, as it allows me to commit 40% of my time to a more missional cross-cultural setting.

This is how it works: I have several contracts in NZ and Asia – the NZ contracts provide bread and butter and the Asian contracts pay airfares, daily fees, and living allowance – and provide a way for me to visit a particular Asian country several times a year. The business projects are treated like any other frontline business venture: I work hard while onsite, and continue to move the project task along while offsite through daily emails and skype. Alongside of, and integrated within, the business projects is my missional involvement – again my offsite contribution continues through the same technology. This is a model of how nonresident mission activity can be achieved through modern technology, no matter what the location.

Asia is all about networks and business. Having a job/business gives credibility and having a business that creates local wealth gives mana. It is in this context that questions are asked and the good news spreads.

My friends, Fred and Mary, went to a city in South East Asia as youth/social workers. After scores of comments from the local community along the lines of “Why have you come to convert us?”, they realised their role and status were not effective. So in their second term they moved to a different city and set up a business using the professional skills from their university training. The city mayor hosted a welcome function for them, and business is good! Not only are they now an accepted part of the community and adding value to it, but they also have more conversations on a daily basis about their faith than they care to count.

I have another expat friend living in the same region who has set up an enterprise that provides essential services. It is organised so that all in the small city share in the benefits. He employs skilled national staff who received their training outside the area, and who also possess UPG (unreached people group) church planting skills. They all live and work in that setting, go about their daily business, and let their work open the doors into people’s lives.

Businesses that operate ethically always stand out, because how you do business is just as important as the business itself. The key to BAM’s success is rooted in the motivation behind it: when you operate a credible business with integrity, adding value to the local community, the “why” questions will always come up.

A BAMer is not quite the type of person who would have been the ideal candidate to fill a mission vacancy in the 1960s – no, BAMers are indeed a new breed. Most people involved in BAM in the Asia-Pacific region are not headliners – they are headsdown and doing it, with results that are often only noticed by the angels, who rejoice as through a BAMer’s credibility and acceptance, their conversation becomes life to another.

The openings for BAM in Asia are real, and the ways of doing business are wide and varied. On one hand are people like Fred and Mary, who have uprooted and shifted to their chosen country, set up a business, and settled in for the long haul. This is BAM 24/7 Asia style, and suits those who have (even rudimentary) business skills plus the talent to adapt their lifestyle to suit a crosscultural setting.

On the other hand is the model I have adopted: I have my base outside the country, but my business is structured to enable me to make very regular onsite trips. While there, I deliver the promised product/ service, and it is during those interactions in the work context – the conversations, the shared living – that I “gossip the good news”. Critical cross-cultural skills, contextualised conversations, and language adeptness are vital in this scenario. This BAM model suits someone with a wealth of experience, who would like to use their business skills to help transform lives and communities.

Whatever the mode (resident or non-resident style) the credibility from doing business is paramount, and relationships are the key. In this I have found it immensely satisfying to use the skills God has given me to work in ‘nontraditional’ mission activity. If you feel inspired by the possibilities raised in this article, and would like to learn more about becoming involved, I would love to talk to you – please do get in contact.

The author has a long track record in the educational business sector as well as missions; he can be contacted through the local Interserve office.

Poverty, illiteracy, and disease are some of the tragedies of our day, and of the millions of people impacted each year, women are amongst the most vulnerable.

These three global problems are deeply intertwined. Poor, uneducated women cannot easily find jobs in the established labour markets, and so are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.

Yet there is hope: one particularly powerful way to impact the lives of those struggling to eke out an existence is through business – sustainable businesses that encourage entrepreneurship, and extend to people the means to find dignity in respectable work, and to provide for their families.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2006 Report on Women and Entrepreneurship notes that there are two basic types of entrepreneurship drivers – opportunity and necessity. Opportunity entrepreneurship is that which springs from a gap in the market being identified and someone creating a business to address that need or want. Necessity entrepreneurship is initiated when individuals experience a lack of real or satisfactory options in the established labour markets. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of entrepreneurship practiced by women in developing nations is that driven by necessity, representing an important means to avoid unemployment and, in some countries, to escape poverty.

One inspirational role model in the fight against poverty, Mohammed Yunus, pioneered in Bangladesh the use of micro-credit to stimulate business and entrepreneurship through the bank he founded in the early 1980s. Through Grameen Bank, customers (over 90% women) are able to access micro-loans to use as seed money to start their own businesses. These women use their funds to invest in viable businesses such as manufacturing pottery, weaving and garment sewing etc.

Yunus’ experience over the last three decades has shown that women who are given a chance, while also being held accountable in a supportive environment, have proven to be reliable workers and smart entrepreneurs. A Google search of ‘microfinance, Christian organisation’ shows that Yunus is not alone in this approach: Christians also are engaged in encouraging entrepreneurship and alleviating poverty in this manner.

Another business-based approach is to establish operations in developing countries that apply fair practices to employees and suppliers: reasonable wages and workloads enable workers to care for themselves, their families and communities. Irish pop rock icon, Bono, the lead singer for the band ‘U2’, is a renowned advocate of this approach.

Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, are Christians who have been challenged to contribute towards alleviating poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Over the years Bono has struggled with how his faith in Christ could be applied to combat major world problems, such as poverty, in places where the traditional local church hadn’t been able to make a significant impact. In an interview with Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church), he shared that while he’s no Mother Theresa, he believes that God has given him a currency – fame – which is what he can use to make a difference.

What particularly inspires me about Bono and Ali’s work is that they are not giving handouts or ‘aid’ – instead they have chosen ‘trade’: to invest in the economy of the African country of Lesotho, as an example, to create jobs and thereby provide a way out of poverty.

While you might be familiar with their story so far, I’ll recap the highlights. In 2005, Bono and Ali started a clothing business, Edun Apparel. Through Edun they are extending the apparel value chain to include African cotton growers by paying fair prices for their cotton, while also training them in sustainable agriculture practices in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society. The cotton is manufactured into material and then made into T-shirts by African apparel workers in Lesotho. Besides providing good jobs, they partner with other organisations to help provide medication for those suffering from HIV/AIDS, malaria and other preventable diseases.

In the context of mission today, there is increasing momentum towards acknowledging the value of business in addressing people’s physical and economic needs. Business is a worthwhile mission: it need not be viewed only as an enabler so the ‘real’ work can be done after hours. Helping women find their dignity as human beings by encouraging and/or establishing places of respectable employment is a worthy endeavour. Perhaps we can think of God-honouring businesses as being a form of salt. Salt changes the flavour of its environment – even though you can’t always see it, you know it’s active because of the change in taste.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we (believers in Christ) are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. That is our destiny – to do good works. So the question I’ve been asking myself is – God, what have You prepared for me to do? And, more specifically, a question which I’d challenge you to consider with me – have You prepared me to do good works through business to positively impact the lives of women in the developing world?

May He clearly guide each one of us.

The author is a business woman, and board member on the Interserve NZ Council. For more information: www.one.org, www.edunonline.com, www.grameen.com, www.un.org/millenniumgoals/