A barista walked into a cafe

“If more people come to know Jesus through our deaths than though our lives, then we are prepared to die, Father.”

I read this prayer in a biography when I was nine. I was struck by how radical and countercultural life in Jesus is to the world around us. Our lives are gifts not to ourselves, but to be given sacrificially for His story and His glory.
God began to water the seed of overseas mission in my heart. Through reading missionary stories, I imagined being a teacher in the depths of the African savannah, choosing education as my university degree.

But throughout my teens, biographies, novels and world events like September 11 increased my curiosity about the Middle East and Islam. Growing up in rural WA, I don’t remember meeting any Muslims or even knowing anyone who had ever stepped foot in the Middle East. Yet God began to grow this curiosity. While I was at university, I read about Brother Andrew’s ministry to Muslims and in that moment decided that I would start working towards going to the Middle East as a teacher.

But it didn’t take long into this journey to realise I did not enjoy teaching. This led to a lot of anxiety as I studied at Bible college. If I didn’t teach in the Middle East, what could I do?
But just as God had begun watering the seed of love for Muslims, He also had planted a love of coffee! I returned to my home city and started working in specialty cafes, learning the coffee business and mastering the barista’s art. I didn’t know how I could use this in the Middle East but I prayed that I would!

God heard these prayers. I found myself boarding a plane as an On Tracker to the Middle East to work for a coffee business for two years! In His strength and grace, the project aims to accomplish many things alongside providing delicious cups of coffee.

As I helped develop the barista program and its curriculum, train staff and build the team I was amazed at how God used simple things like coffee and baristas to bring people together: rich and poor, educated and uneducated, Muslim and Christian to create networks and communities that provided endless opportunities for people to see His power, glory and reconciling love. I saw Him refining and using local Christians as they showed their Muslim colleagues what it means to be a Middle Eastern Christian. I saw Muslims taking note of God working in the lives of His children. I saw them begin to have their misconceptions about Christianity dispelled and be curious about what it truly is all about. All in the everyday workings of a small business!

God has used my education and my coffee experience. If I were to go back in time to decide on a future career, I would tell myself that God doesn’t just use the ‘traditional’ missionary careers like teaching and medicine. He can use any career or trade! He gives to each of us skills, talents and passions to be used for His glory and in His story.

Ella is preparing to return to the Middle East as a long-term Partner.

Entrepreneur (Business or NGO)

Central Asia, Business, 2+ years / Job ID: 307

There are opportunities to develop and run a business or an NGO.

This would involve setting up and running a business or NGO.

The applicant should be a confident entrepreneur and able to deal with uncertainty the cultural context and language challenges.

Entrepreneur

South East Asia, Business, 2+ years / Job ID: 885

The growing economy of this country offers many opportunities for business. Many small businesses have been started in recent years.

There are opportunities for starting your own business or coming alongside local business people who need help. A suitable candidate would support local believers and churches in developing a business mindset and showing them how to be salt and light in the marketplace by being an example in your own business as well as providing business mentoring.

The qualified individual would have an entrepreneurial attitude and some management/finance/sales experience along with a willingness and creativity to develop their own role.

Feeling frustrated and fruitless

It is a strange relief to find that I am not the only one working cross culturally who feels it is often fruitless and profoundly frustrating.

Things never work as planned: ‘amazing potential’ always feels within reach but, because of our own intercultural incompetence and local resistance to ‘outside things’, the impact of our work never seems to reach anywhere near its potential. Culturally conditioned as I am to take at least some of my identity and worth from my success at work, it has at times been a crushing journey that has frequently tempted me to pack it in. At my worst, the crushed expectations have driven me further into workaholism, with a subtle but inherently selfish Babel-like agenda to “make a name for myself” (Gen 11:4). That at least would validate why so many people continue to so generously support us!

I have fought discouragement from fruitlessness for over 10 years and perfection-driven workaholism for over 20 years, so I wish I had read Tim Keller’s book Every Good Endeavour earlier and taken his advice that “the key is to accept fruitlessness”! This book helped me discover what hope there is for work and how I can look past the deep problems and realise God’s purpose and plan. As Keller says, it all starts with being clear on one sure fact: nothing will be put perfectly right “until the day of Christ” at the end of history (Phil 1:6; 3:12). Until then, all creation “groans” (Rom 8:22) and is subject to decay and weakness.

et all is not lost. The disappointments of cross-cultural work have given me ample opportunities to get my identity from what God has done for us and in us and to constantly check that I am not making any good thing that work might offer into an idol. There is no shortage of toil, often more than I seek or expect, but my challenge now is to be one who “find(s) satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecc 3:13).

Keller’s idea that we view all work as cultivation was new to me: as gardeners we work to rearrange the raw material of God’s creation to help the world in general, and people in particular, thrive and flourish. His question, “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and of human need?” has helped me focus on where to be working/gardening. I run a business here and the heart of my ‘gardening’ is to sow in peace. I’m praying for a “harvest of righteousness” (Jas 3:18)—creating the space for individuals to get right with each other and, ultimately, with God.

As I seek to work as a peacemaker, I must first use my talents as competently as possible. Even if my job is not, by the world’s (or my) standards, exciting, high paying and desirable, reframing it as fundamentally a way to love my neighbour has been a great way to find job satisfaction. My daily work is ultimately an act of worship to the God who called and equipped me, no matter how fruitless and frustrating it can get! The act of worship that God asks for in our work and everything else is to be a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1); as Keller says, “to be continually in the rhythm of dying to your own interest and living for God”. Please ask that all Partners serving cross culturally would “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord” (Rom 12:11).

Paul is a long-term Partner working in business in the Middle East.
Names have been changed.

Doing business doing life

When we left for South East Asia over five years ago, we had no idea what we would be doing after being on a language study visa for one year. We knew for sure, though, that we wanted to support local believers and fellowships and to share Jesus’ good news with the people of the majority faith.

Through the time of language learning, Paul researched and explored ideas of how we could stay here on a long-term basis. Like most countries, you need a visa to live here if you are not a tourist. And it piqued our interest that our city is known for being a ‘business’ city.

Paul left Australia with his computer programming skills, a knowledge of running a small business and a few contacts. During his time of studying language he talked to various people, listening, building friendships and noting the needs around our city. He concluded that setting up a computer programming business would create opportunities for training local workers using the knowledge we are blessed to have from being educated in Australia.

Now we find ourselves, six years on, in an amazing, unique and financially challenging position. The computer company develops custom web-based programs, mobile apps for clients and its own software products. We have also taken on the management of an English language centre. In all this growth, Leah has found a place supporting both businesses through her love of administration and accounting. Together the businesses employ almost 20 full-time and part-time staff. We’ve also taken on apprentices from the local university.

What we love about this lifestyle is that we are privileged to ‘do life’ with our staff and clients—we rejoice when the HR lady’s baby is born, give comfort when the admin lady’s father passes away suddenly, celebrate when a staff member gets married, give sympathy when a dating relationship breaks up, offer support when a business endeavour is struggling, and give encouragement by reading the Bible with our Christian staff.

We’re also intentional about sharing life outside the office. Do you enjoy the beauty of nature? Leah does! She is always wanting to get out of the city and explore the natural world around her (she is really a country bumpkin at heart). To her surprise she learned that many of the staff at our company felt the same way. The dream became a reality recently when we organised an outing to a waterfall for staff and their families. Two of the girls had never left our city and it was wonderful to watch their faces as they saw their first mountains, water buffaloes and monkeys, went on their first bush-walk and even got muddy for the first time. Everyone enjoyed the outing. Swimming in the cool water of the waterfall was definitely a highlight after hiking in the middle of the day in the heat and the humidity of the tropics.

This trip was also unique as it included people from the many demographics that make up our company: people aged from 2 to 44, English teachers, computer programmers, admin staff, family and friends, seven people groups, and four religions. What a blessing to see everyone enjoying community together! Coming from Australia, you may be wondering why the diversity of this group outing was unique. In this country, people are usually divided by people group and religion; their cultures differ significantly from each other. Belonging to a people group usually means that you follow its dominant religion and its uniquely different culture (food restrictions, festivals, religious holidays, family reunions).

To have an environment where people are willing to be friends, respect each other, and do life together is quite extraordinary, and very exciting!

Leah and Paul live and serve in South East Asia. They have four children.

Names have been changed.

The spirit in the room

Courage is highly esteemed in the Middle East, but underlying that, and rarely talked about, is extreme fear about the spirit world, particularly within folk Islam. Muslims and Christians alike recognise that unseen spiritual forces of the heavenly realms are constantly at work. Every now and then, however, we see the beautiful fruit of new believers who are freed from fear.

The staff of our community centre organised an art competition for young people. They did not advertise it widely for fear that some extreme groups, who deem any form of creative expression ‘haram’ (forbidden), would take offence. As a family, we attended the official opening, which was held in an unused part of the community centre. In an impressive outpouring of creativity, 50 young people displayed their artistic flair.

It was only when we showed our staff a blurry family photo taken at the exhibition that we learned about ‘Anji’, believed to be the resident evil spirit. One of my employees, Indigo, was particularly attuned to the ‘unseen’ and very fearful of the spirits she believed followed her every move. This led to a most unusual management/ministry issue that I was not prepared for. Soon almost all our local staff believed there was an evil spirit in that area.

Both Indigo and her colleague Harriet claimed to have heard the spirit’s name and seen her face in dreams. Indigo flatly refused to enter the room and when Harriet did she placed her holy book on the table next to her for protection. This fear of Anji became a growing problem but it led to opportunities for us to share openly with staff about the One who has power over evil spirits.

At one of our weekly staff lunches, the topic of Anji was discussed for more than an hour. I didn’t want to trivialise the importance of the issue but reminded staff that our centre provided great ‘light’, hope and transformation in people’s lives so it was to be expected that the devil would oppose it.

I decided to be bolder and offered to pray with and for any staff members in Jesus’ name in these rooms. This created an awkward conundrum: if they asked for prayer they were publically admitting that Jesus does have power, but not asking left them crippled with fear. It was awkward for me too, considering this battle was out of my comfort zone and experience; however, Ephesians 6:10–12 gave me more than enough guidance:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Sadly, our staff never did ask us to pray to expel the evil spirits. Many did, however, recognise the power of our own prayers. Harriet became increasingly open and committed to read the Bible alongside her holy book every day. She would often come to us with concerns and ask us to pray. We still long for them to know the power of Jesus and to experience freedom from fear.

We had seen the fruit of faith remove fear in a very tangible way with another new local believer, Ruth. She had been under much pressure from the unseen, so crippled by a fear of jinn (spirits), in fact, that her sister needed to accompany her even to the bathroom. Amazingly, immediately after she trusted Jesus her fear disappeared.

Please join us in praying that Ruth will continue to stand firm, and that many others will be freed from their fears and superstitions.

Stephen is a long-term Partner working in the Middle East.

Names have been changed.

More than the sum of our parts

This year I celebrated the tenth anniversary of the rather dubious distinction of being blacklisted (refused entry as a ”risk to national
security”) by the country where my family and I had served as part of the Interserve fellowship for nearly a decade.

One of our core commitments as a fellowship is to work alongside national believers, equipping and empowering them to be light and salt
in their community. Among other things, this ensures that the task can continue long after we have left. I thought it appropriate on this tenth
anniversary to review how well that is happening in the community we were a part of.

Nearly 20 years ago, my wife and I, along with our 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, moved to an impoverished third-world city. Not
unlike many Interserve Partners, I thought I was well equipped with professional expertise (a 4-year agricultural science degree, 3 years of
doctoral studies and 4 years of postdoctoral research). But 10 months later I found myself sitting in the dirt of an inner-city garbage dump (also a primitive industrial area and home to thousands of people), selecting some crude pottery. I had begun to work with a Dutch entrepreneur (let’s call him Pieter) who thought he could build a business and ministry in the midst of such squalor. My part was to be the world’s most highly qualified pot inspector!

So began a most unexpected decade-long adventure. Pottery became a path to friendships with people in communities across that country whose faith and worldview were utterly unlike mine. In the process, we exported hundreds of containers of pottery, brought substantial income into some of the poorest communities, and shared about the wonderful hope we have in Jesus with many of those people. We had the opportunity to demonstrate by our daily life the goodness and mercy of our wonderful Lord and Saviour.

We also often got it wrong, and the people we worked among were often liberal with the truth. Indeed, like any genuine friendship, we all
needed to give and receive forgiveness quite regularly. But, like many friendships that endure hardship (even self-inflicted hardship), those
friendships became all the more precious as those moments of grace, given and received, somehow welded us together.

Perhaps no-one had to do more forgiving than the group of young Christian men who we employed on a daily basis to help us with the
work and who participated with us in the ministry. This was no charity: long days, often travelling for hours on dangerous roads, working out in
the open, hard physical work under a hot sun – but always alongside the people who made the pottery. Over the years, these young Christian
men grew with the business and took over much of the day-to-day operations. They shared fully in our ministry but also took initiatives, establishing their own business and even starting their own ministry.

After nearly a decade of living and working intensely with these young men, Pieter and I were suddenly no longer permitted to re-enter that country. Overnight, something that had filled our lives so completely was gone. It’s now 10 years since we were unable to return and I have
been so encouraged by the way those young men have continued to build on our rather shaky foundations. So I wanted to tell you about each of them – let’s call them David, Michael, Stephen and Josh.

When we left, David was already our Operations Manager and Pieter and I decided that hewas the person to take over the business. He
bought the business from us and we continued to provide working capital (on which we charged interest). The business has continued
to function and provide a basis for David’s day-to-day engagement with those majority-faith communities across the country. David continues to employ both Christian and majority-faith people and last year was the best year for sales turnover in 10 years. He has had to contend with the impact of the Arab Spring chaos and the global financial crisis before that. Yet this business has survived and continues to generate significant work for impoverished communities.

David and Stephen together decided to also respond to the situation of women in that community by starting small micro-finance projects. All of this may not seem remarkable to you, but the subtext is that this is a society where there is an invisible but very strong separation between the majority and minority (Christian) faith communities. The Christian
community sees the majority as their persecuting oppressors. So the idea that Christians might consider the vulnerable and needy among the
majority faith worthy of care and concern is a revolutionary mindset.

Michael has also not been still in the 10 years we have been away. He and his wife (who has specialist skills in the care of children with disabilities) started a centre for children with disabilities in the village where our business was based. In this culture, as in many countries,
to have a child with a disability is a matter of significant personal shame; such children are frequently hidden in homes, neglected, living without dignity or opportunity. Michael and his wife currently have over 100
children at the centre and they have trained local women from the village (many of them mothers of the children) to provide the children with high-quality care and education. Last year, a 6-year-old girl, the daughter of a local religious leader, was brought to them because she had never spoken. One day, after six months with them, she began speaking whole sentences. As a father I can only imagine the impact this had on that girl’s family. This is a profound witness of what it means to follow Christ. I don’t know if this was a miracle or simply the result of placing the child in a stimulating environment, but just the fact that a Christian would choose to care for the child of a religious leader speaks volumes to that community about the Jesus we serve.

Stephen was for me always a bit of surprise. He never really seemed to like working with us (it might have been something to do with the fact that every day was a bit like boot camp!). He was often late for work and not very reliable in participating in the ministry we were doing. Yet, after we left, he turned himself to sharing his faith full-time with people from the majority community. Not only did he get involved in this work himself (which in that region is a dangerous thing to do), but he also trained
others and equipped them with skills to run their own businesses (as he did) so that they could support themselves in their ministry. Stephen
also travelled to adjoining countries to share his faith and to encourage and equip Christians there to do the same.

Ironically, perhaps the most gifted businessman of the group was Josh. When Josh started working with us, he had a full-time job with the
government. These jobs paid a pittance but were highly valued for the security and benefits they afforded. I remember asking Josh how, as a Christian, he felt about being paid to work full-time but only doing two hours work a day (the rest of the time was spent reading the paper and
drinking tea). He said, “Well, if I did more, then there wouldn’t be enough work for everyone else!” Despite coming from this socialist utopia (!), Josh quickly grasped the capitalist principles of commerce. He built his own business while we were there, first sourcing then producing key inputs for our business. Even before we left he had established a substantial factory employing many people. Today Josh is a significant trader in that area and the profits from his work go, in part, to support
the ministries which others are involved in.

The six of us met up last year. It was lovely to be together again, to catch up on each other’s news and share the challenges we face. These
men clearly saw their work and ministry not as an end in itself but as a faith response to Jesus’ work in their lives. Pieter and I felt very privileged to have had a part in their stories.

Of the four billion people living in Asia and the Arab world, more than half do not know a single Christian. In the last 20 years, Interserve
Australia has sent just over 200 Partners who together have clocked up
years. If we were to single-handedly befriend, share the gospel with and disciple all those who had never met a Christian, we’d have had 25 seconds for each one! So we came up with a bright idea – or recognised it as such in retrospect, which is how most good mission is done! This is it: we disciple some people and they disciple people and together we seek to make Jesus known. We empower the local church so that they are equipped and motivated to bring the goodness of Christ to every
community.

If there is a message in my story, it is that if we – a relatively small group of Christians in Australia – want to share the gospel with more than 2
billion people in Asia and the Arab world who have never even met a Christian, then doing it in partnership with local believers is the way to go!

Scott* and his family have served in Business as Mission ministries in the Arab world and Asia.

*Names have been changed.

The Journey So Far

We live in Nepal. We make software. We love it and think we’re good at it – though sometimes the mess makes me want to cry! We’re a business as mission thingy – BAM for short.

When our daughter was six, she confided to Juliet that she knew both the “S” word and the “F” word. She was right: she did. Just not the ones you’re thinking of. Trying to run a business in Nepal has been a bit like that. Every so often you think you know stuff, and a while later you find that you didn’t know as much as you thought you did.

We’re celebrating a milestone – our little company has just turned ten, and that has brought on a wave of thankfulness, the odd regret, and a few “what-if?”s. Here are a few thoughts on the journey so far.

Build to last Although we’re in a “want it now” world, unless you’re 22 and had the thought “why not build a social network?” before anyone else, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to build a business that lasts in under ten years. Note too we’re saying “build” and not “create”. It’s not so much making something out of nothing, as it is taking the things you’re given (mainly the people) and putting them together in a way that works. And anything to do with people takes time.

Look: if your age starts with a one or two, firstly it’s a miracle you’re reading this and not on Farcebook. But seeing you’ve got this far, listen to this: forget the short career break. Forget the house, the mortgage. Forget the expectations of your friends, your boss. Think about doing the surprising thing and giving this mission beastie the time it takes to build something that lasts.

The cure for faking it A Nepali friend once told me that he knew a lot of people who had become Christians for the money. That will sound strange to a Western ear, but in a poor country your options are limited, and Christians love to help people who have found faith. The trouble is that while twenty years ago there was a real cost to becoming a Christian, in the new Nepal that’s not always the case, and it is creating problems for the Church. There are a lot of Christians here with a sense of entitlement.

Business isn’t the solution to this problem, but it does provide a real connection between what people contribute and the wages they earn. Our clients also provide us with a reality check: they aren’t being forced to use us, and we need to provide them with enough value for money that they don’t go elsewhere. Compare that with working for a Church or an NGO, where the money might still come in if you do a mediocre – or even a bad – job.

Abba was right It is a rich man’s world. Sometimes in South Asian cultures you feel as if they’ve taken all the greed and self-centredness of the West and magnified it. Here, climbing over your friends to be successful, or cheating to get ahead, is considered a virtue!

Jesus warned us once or twice about the risk of money becoming a god. The trouble is, a business has to think about money. There are accounts, tax, wages, income, expenses. Profit even. Businesses that ignore the money side usually aren’t around for long. That said, BAM ventures that obsess about profit don’t really reflect the values of the One we claim to follow.

We’ve had a bit of a conversion about making a profit – for the first ten years we wouldn’t have identified it as one of our objectives. But these days it’s on the list. We want to make a honking big profit. Great gobs of it. Then we want to give lots of it away. There are so many needs here in Nepal. Food. Education. Health care. Respect. Life as God intended it, loving and being loved. Helping people be who they were created to be takes resources, and we want to do our bit to help.

We wish we could provide lots of jobs that would suit the millions of people in Nepal who never got the education they deserve, and which we took for granted. But in our business, we do stuff that sometimes makes our brains hurt: you need a good education to be in the running for a job with us. We can only employ a couple of unskilled people. We wish it wasn’t so. We wish we didn’t have to rely on the trickle-down effect. But this – writing software – is what we’re good at, and we love it, and wish that all jobs were as interesting and fulfilling as ours.

The power problem Power is a problem in any organisation, but with BAM you’ve got all sorts of new problems. Firstly, as a boss you’re powerful whether you want to be or not. If someone shows an interest in faith, are they doing it because they want to please you? Because they think they might get a raise or a promotion? It’s tricky. So much of what Jesus taught was about how the traditional way of relating to people (power) wasn’t His way, wasn’t the way. It’s a real challenge to create an organisation where people do things because they want to, not because you’re compelling them to, whether that be getting a good day’s work done, or responding to the love that draws us all.

Yet in a very strange way a BAM organisation is also vulnerable. We’re a stroke of a pen away from having to shut up shop and move to another country. It happens. And there’s not much recourse, let alone justice. We also hear amazing stories of employees who have brought companies to their knees for no good reason. So much of modern business is about removing vulnerability – we buy insurance, we plan for the unlikely, even the unexpected. Maybe it’s good we can’t be like that.

You’re so vain! These days you could be forgiven for thinking that BAM was the only game in town. If you find any BAMer giving you that impression, cut them down to size, would you? Remind them that BAM is a welcome part of the family, but it’s not the prima donna. We need to remember that we’re only able to do what we do through the support and prayers of the wider Christian community, and that theologians, nurses, engineers, counsellors, plumbers and so on are needed just as much as the BAMsters.

Ten years in business… and we feel as if we’re just hitting our stride. We’ve been blessed with some wonderful people to work with us, a few newbies to run with the baton, a supportive mission agency that has let us be us, and the love of a huge team of supporters. We’re so very thankful!

Craig and Juliet are Kiwi Partners, and have been living in Nepal for about fifteen years.

VIA Design

Letting your business open the doors

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.