The role of business in missions
By Kehinde Ojo
The story is told of a group of people who lived near a coast. After years of observing shipwrecks at sea and the resultant loss of lives and properties, they decided to do something about it. They built a shelter very near the coast to cater for the victims. Someone suggested they include a café and provide immediate relief to those rescued. Another person suggested that snacks be added to the drinks served. Since shipwreck do not happen regularly, there was a suggestion to sell the snacks and drinks while on standby. The business grew so well that when the next shipwreck happened, no one paid attention! The original purpose of establishing the shelter was, therefore, defeated.
Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ Luke 19:13 (ESV)
In the Luke story, the charge of the Master was for the servants to engage in business until he came back. Therefore, the primary focus of the servants was to make the most of their investments while waiting for his coming. The motivation for excelling in their business was to impress him on his return with their profit margin. So, the essence of the business is not the ambition of the servants but the pleasure of the Master. It is, then, not business as business but business as a mission, in the light of his coming!
It is this understanding that frees us as believers to use our various businesses at home or abroad as a tool for service. Ideally, the question on the lips of Christian businesswomen and men to God should be,
‘What do you want me to accomplish for you through this business, and how should this business serve you and your purpose?’
One major issue we ought to resolve quickly in our different endeavors as well as other areas of our lives is the question of ownership. Who owns me? Who owns my business? Who owns my profession? Who owns the resources that have been placed in my care?
In this issue, you will learn about the ways God is working in North Africa using businesses and education to connect with locals through an initiative. You will read amazing stories of God’s faithfulness in the lives of Rev. Johnson Asare, a scholar, missionary and businessman, and Mr. Septi Bukula, a mission leader and businessman. You will find out what the four C’s stand for in the story of the Good Samaritan, as captured by Rev. Asare, and how that has helped his understanding of business as missions. Mr. Bukula shares insight on the lessons learnt from his dad on the synergy between business and missions, and bemoans the materialistic messages propagated by some churches that suggest Christians should only receive material blessings and not be responsible for wealth sharing.
It is my desire that this edition will open your eyes to the many opportunities that exist in the world of mission, especially in the area of businesses, and that God will use you and your circle of influence to close the gap.
Kehinde Ojo is IFES Program Director for Indigenous Support Development. His past contributions to AfriGO include ‘Cultivating a Generous Spirit’ (Vol 1 Issue 4). Contact him at email@example.com.