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On March 17 many people around the globe celebrate St. Patrick. He was a human trafficking victim in the 5th century, who became a missionary to the people and land (Ireland) where he was a slave.

Let me share a well-known prayer by St. Patrick, and customize it to a prayer for faith driven investors: (the original is in bold and italics)

Christ with me, as I invest for the common good and God’s glory

Christ before me, as I steward the wealth entrusted to me

Christ behind me, as I evaluate opportunities near and afar

Christ in me, as I invest time, treasure and talents in others

Christ beneath me; He is the foundation

Christ above me, He is the owner of it all

Christ on my right, Christ on my left, He is the Lord of the marketplace

Christ when I lie down, and rest from my work

Christ when I sit down, in my office chair

Christ when I arise, enthusiastic or weary

Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of us, and our vision

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of us, and our work

Christ in every eye that sees us, young and old, rich and poor, countrymen and foreigners

Christ in every ear that hears me speak about our products and services

Glory be to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.

Amen!

PS. I first shared this prayer at the Faith Driven Investors event in Park City, Utah in USA on 24 July 2019.

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She was amazed and perplexed at the same time. She was treated with respect and dignity. She was a woman challenged with disabilities. But her life had changed. With no or little prospect of ever getting a job, she was now working in a manufacturing company. She was creative, she had made friends, and she made money.

Women in this country and religious context were treated as second-class citizens. If they had mental or physical handicaps they were often further down.

But the company she worked for employed and offered jobs with dignity to women with disabilities. It was unheard of, and it made a huge difference not only in her life, but also for the other women who worked there. It even had a transformational impact on families and the community.

This woman asked herself: why is this workplace so different? It changes lives on many levels. She knew that the founder and CEO was a follower of Jesus. So she told herself: If that’s what it means to be a follower of Jesus, I will also follow him. It was a huge and risky step for a handicapped woman in a conservative Muslim environment.

What brought her to Christ? A gospel tract? A Jesus film? A bible study? No, it was human resource management informed by biblical values, underpinned with prayer. Ultimately, it was, of course, God’s doing.

This true story from the Middle East highlights some important issues as we serve God and people in and through business. In BAM as we talk about the quadruple bottom line: financial, social, environmental and spiritual. BAM is not doing business with a touch of ‘churchianity’. BAM is not Christians just doing social enterprise. BAM recognizes God as a stakeholder who has a vested interested in the multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders.

We can and should set goals in each of these four areas individually, as we plan, operate and evaluate.  However, we also need to recognize that these areas of impact overlap, interact and connect; the result is greater than the sum of its parts, as we learn from the story from the Middle East.

The CEO of the manufacturing company served faithfully with excellence, professionalism and integrity. God used that to draw a woman to himself. There was a kairos moment.

We cannot convert anyone by pushing through or forcing a spiritual impact. This is essential as we do business as mission. We must serve our customers, staff and suppliers with professionalism, excellence and integrity, and trust God for the kairos moment.

In the words of the apostle Paul: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.”

Serve people and trust God for impact.

********

For an expanded version of the blog, see http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/More-BAM-for-the-Buck.pdf

For blog in Portuguese – BAM: servir pessoas e confiar em Deus para o impacto, see http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/BAM-Serve-People-and-Trust-God-for-Impact-Portuguese.pdf

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Let’s Avodah!

Business as Mission is about taking our Sunday talk into a Monday walk. Whatever we believe and profess in church on Sunday should be permeating our lives and business practices the rest of the week.[1]

But we must strive towards a seamless integration of Sunday and Monday, of work and worship. There is a risk of seeing Sunday and Monday as two separate compartments.[2]

There are pros and cons with compartmentalization. It has been a key to scientific development. But the danger is often that one may fail to see the greater whole, how bits and pieces overlap, interact and connect.

For example, H2O is hydrogen and oxygen. It can be compartmentalized and analyzed and it can manifest itself as water, ice and steam.

The Church teaches that God is triune; we can observe the three in one, and one in three throughout history. We can compartmentalize God, focus on the Son for example. But we mustn’t fail to see how the three divine persons overlap, interact and connect. It is a mystery, indeed, but nevertheless a truth to embrace.

When we deal with Sunday and Monday, with serving God and people, with work and worship, we should learn from the use of the Hebrew word avodah in the Holy Scriptures. It is used interchangeably for work, worship and service.

 

Worship in the temple is different from manual labor in the field. But that doesn’t mean that they are disconnected from who we are, created in God’s image, with a purpose to both work and worship. Work can be worship.[3]

This is also a challenge in BAM and the quadruple bottom line: financial, social, environmental and spiritual. We can and should at times compartmentalize for planning, operation and evaluation. But we also need to recognize that they overlap, interact and connect; they form a greater whole.

We must avoid playing one important entity against the other. It is not hydrogen vs. oxygen, God the Father vs. the Son, work vs. worship or financial bottom-line vs. a spiritual impact. They are not same, but they belong together.

Thus our daily work is intimately related to serving God and people. Our businesses are not a distraction from “doing ministry”. [4]

“Entrepreneurs, managers and all who work in business, should be encouraged to recognise their work as a true vocation and to respond to God’s call in the spirit of true disciples. In doing so, they engage in the noble task of serving their brothers and sisters and of building up the Kingdom of God.” [5]

To work is deeply divine and deeply human. The same applies also to creativity in business. It is a reflection of who we are created in God’s image. But our work is also a part of God’s redemptive mission throughout history. Thus work is part of a greater story – His story. To do BAM for God and people is about making history.

As Pope John XXIII says: “In the work on the farm the human personality finds every incentive for self-expression, self-development and spiritual growth. It is a work, therefore, which should be thought of as a vocation, a God-given mission, an answer to God’s call to actuate His providential, saving plan in history. It should be thought of, finally, as a noble task, undertaken with a view to raising oneself and others to a higher degree of civilization.” [6]

So let’s ‘avodah’: work – worship – serve!

*****

[1] See http://www.matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Business-as-Mission-is-bigger-than-you-think.pdf for 12 examples of key Christian values and Biblical themes and how they translate into business.

[2] Dorothy Sayers notes in her essay ‘Why Work’: “In nothing has the church so lost her hold on reality as in her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turning to purely selfish and destructive ends. and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. But is it astonishing?  How can any one remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?  The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays.  What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.”

[3] Tomas Aquinas’ definition of beauty also has three parts: Integritas (integrity), Consonantia (proportion), and Claritas (clarity) Again, three in one. They can be analyzed one at a time or two in contrast, but it is the combined three that constitutes beauty.

[4] Check this video: ‘Business like Bach’. https://vimeo.com/152713982 This very short and poignant video makes the cogent point that just as Bach put years of hard work and practice into developing the extraordinary musical gifts given to him by God, some of us are given the gift of business as a way to bring glory to God. We should not see business as a distraction but rather as an instrument worthy of our time, energy and for “the greater glory of God.”

[5] Vocation of the Business Leader, published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

[6] Mater et magistra. Encyclical of Pope John XXII on Christianity And Social Progress, May 15, 1961

 

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We’re happy to present a new book on BAM. Its unique feature is the blend of short chapters explaining the BAM concept interspersed with brief case studies of BAM businesses.

Mats Tunehag writes about BAM from Biblical, historical, global, missiological and conceptual perspectives. He also gives an overview of the development of the modern day global BAM movement.

Gea Gort has written over 25 case studies of a variety of BAM business from various industries on different continents.

Some endorsements and various sales points are enclosed below.

“Business as Mission has become an enormously powerful movement in the transformation of God’s world. This book is an excellent and varied collection of moving stories and biblical insights, showing how business conducted to the glory of God can revive and unite communities. I hope and pray that it will inspire many more innovative projects.” Dr. Richard Higginson Director of Faith in Business, Ridley Hall, UK

“Gea Gort and Mats Tunehag lay a solid foundation for BAM from a biblical and historical perspective, and on this foundation they address a wide variety of topics facing BAM entrepreneurs. The biggest contribution of the book, however, is the rich insight gleaned from the stories of real-life BAM entrepreneurs. Each chapter includes stories from the field of practitioners facing challenges of operating in corrupt, less-developed countries, addressing human trafficking, generating a multidimensional return on investment, and more. Tunehag’s experience within the BAM ecosystem lends credibility to the book and allows for connections with BAM practitioners from around the world.”  —Dr. Ross O’Brien, Director The Center for Business as Mission, Dallas Baptist University

“Thankfully, there are now many authors who have written on the theology of business and its importance in God’s kingdom. However, the variety of examples and stories in this book truly bring it to life in a way that is clear and compelling. It is time that God’s purpose for business becomes a global movement!” Bonnie P. Wurzbacher Former Senior Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company; Chief Resource Development Officer, World Vision International

For more endorsements, click here

You can buy our BAM book – hardcover and Kindle – from the following:

AMAZON

EUROPE

USA

UK

AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND

SWEDEN

HENDRICKSON PUBLISHERS

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My wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in August. The focus was freedom! Freedom from slavery and injustice, and freedom to live in truth, enjoy beauty, create wealth and share goodness. This is the story of freedom business.

We know that jobs with dignity are a primary need for prevention of human trafficking. It is also a must to bring restoration of survivors of modern day slavery.

That’s why freedom businesses exist, and the Freedom Business Alliance exists to help freedom businesses succeed.

To that end the Freedom Business Forum was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in late August. It was the first global gathering of its kind, and about 140 people from all continents participated. It was a great mix of people and talents, all committed to true freedom through business, with all their hearts and minds.

Freedom business is hard, but necessary. And some are called to it, and as Pope Francis says: “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.  It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” 

The concluding keynote address at the Forum was held by one of my heroines, Annie Dieselberg. She runs a freedom business in Bangkok. Her calling is clear and her commitment exemplary. Her challenging freedom business journey is reflected in a most inspirational speech. Here’s Annie:

Hold Fast to Your Dream

My children recently decided they needed to make some money. Secretly they began creating products and then they laid them out on the table and announced their store was open. They invited mom and dad to come and to make purchases. What they had created was paper bookmarks, origami, and drawings, which they had priced at around 10-20 baht each. My husband and I each chose a couple of their products and my kids proudly pocketed their income with plans for an outing to the nearest 7/11. They had figured out that earning money was purchasing power and the ability to make choices.

Most of us, if not all of us, at young ages, became aware of the power that money has to give us choices in life. Most of us probably came up with innovative ideas of how to make some money to gain choices that our parents were not providing for us. From lemonade stands, to car washes, to babysitting, or mowing peoples’ lawns, there was in us a desire to create money, because money is purchasing power and gives the ability to make choices. The ability to choose is not something to be taken for granted. It is something that comes with freedom.

Freedom allows for choice, which can be used for good or for evil, for self entirely or for the good of others.

My older daughter Kristina was a nanny for a very wealthy and prominent business family. One day my daughter and the 3 year old were discussing friends. The wealthy family traveled so much that she didn’t have any friends to play with. The 3 year old announced, “That’s okay, I will buy friends.”

This 3 year old already understood that money was power. From her worldview she could get anything she wanted with money. She is too young to understand the negative consequences of misuse of money and power, especially when it comes to relationships.

The business of prostitution and sex trafficking makes billions of dollars of profit for people with evil and selfish goals. It preys on vulnerabilities of people who have few choices in life and turns them into slaves and commodities. It is an obscene abuse of power and of wealth. The dreams of the victims to gain income for their families and improve the quality of life, quickly turns into terrorizing nightmares that scare away their dreams.

Prior to working with women in prostitution, I mostly viewed the business world as the other side – where greedy and selfish people used money used for privilege and exclusivity while ignoring or exploiting the vulnerabilities of the poor. I made the mistake of dismissing business as a whole.

Somewhere around 2003 however, I was introduced to Business as Mission and I began to see the strength of business and the opportunity for individual, community, and global impact.[1] I realized that it wasn’t business or making money that was evil and self-serving, but the misuse of that privilege. I realized that the creation of business, is a key to sustaining freedom, by providing survivors life-giving choices.[2]

I am a survivor… I have survived being a pioneer in the freedom business movement. In 2005, my team and I began NightLight Design Co. Ltd. The story I have told many times over is a humble beginning with one girl over a coke at McDonalds learning to make a necklace. She needed a job and I promised her one so with a prayer and a leap of faith we began. Though I had 5 years experience working with survivors, I did not have any professional business experience. Being a pioneer in the field I had no mentors that could guide me in creating or operating a freedom business.

Initially visiting business people’s advice lacked awareness of the challenges of working with survivors. Mission groups came through with advice on addressing the spiritual or emotional needs, but their advice lacked the understanding of the business side. I quickly discovered that we were pioneers with a big machete in hand, hacking through the jungle vines. We would encounter valleys and mountains, we would get hit in the face with branches, bit by spiders and snakes, trip and fall on our way to find the path. It was messy and it was and is an adventure.

The business took off quickly with a lot of excitement. By the third year we had 88 women employed. I made a hasty and foolish promise to God that I would not reject anyone who came our way for help. It was a promise I couldn’t keep. As other organizations began to emerge with similar businesses and the market quickly became saturated, we began to realize that our model was not sustainable.

We came to a crisis point a few years ago. The negative voices thundered in my head and I began to cave in and doubt the vision that I had believed came from God. I almost quit. I almost gave in to shutting down the business. At about that time Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag[3] came through with encouraging news about the launching of the Freedom Business Alliance[4] and instilled some hope back in me.

Around the same time, God gave me a vivid dream that was a clear warning against aborting the vision. I decided to take a stand and rather than give up we did some re-structuring to save a failing business. That restructuring began to turn things around.

Freedom businesses are hard.

Recently my family was returning from vacation at the beach when my 6 year old daughter asked, “How do you get a hotel?” wow, what a loaded question. Now that I have been in business, I began to list many of the steps from planning, to investment, to design, to construction, interior decorating, restaurant set up, menu, guest services, staffing, and marketing.

By the time I was done listing I concluded that it is a huge project that involves a lot of work. My daughter was not anywhere near as overwhelmed as I was and announced, “I am going to have a hotel.” What was it that made her decide she wanted a hotel? It was her positive experience. She had made the connection albeit naïve, that having a hotel could give people, including herself, a positive experience. She had a dream.

I had a dream of a business that would employ survivors and give them a positive experience. I really had no idea what I was really getting into, but I had a dream and in spite of the challenges I was not going to give up.

Since 2005 we have seen 175 women come through the holistic employment program of NLD and NLF. The women are employed in an environment of faith, hope, and love that they have never experienced before.

One of my heart stories that drives me is a woman I met when she was still in prostitution. She told me that sometimes she did not know if she was still a human being so she cut herself. She said if she saw blood and felt pain she knew she was still alive, still human. When she started making jewelry at NightLight she said to me, “Annie, I used to catch myself with my head low because I was so ashamed of who I was and what I was doing. Now I catch myself with my head up high because I am proud of what I am doing.”

Today that same woman is on staff managing the materials department. She teaches new women and expat groups how to make jewelry. She now has power of choice in her life and she is choosing to make an impact in her community.

Freedom businesses are about the business of restoring that hope, of restoring the power to choose, of redeeming the value of life, and the ability to make money for good and positive impact. Freedom businesses give people the chance to dream again, to believe in a future that has quality of life.

I believe many of you are starting out or in a stage of the dream where it feels hard and honestly when we hear the presentations of some of the very successful businesses it can feel overwhelming. We wonder how we will ever get to that measure of success. We wonder sometimes if we can legitimately call ourselves a business in comparison. We resonate with Kerry’s[5] description of heart-driven decisions. But honestly, none of us here are only heart people. We all have a little of the brain at least. And brains, you all have at least some heart. Otherwise none of us would be here at this forum.

The Freedom Business Alliance is in fact an intersection of the two. If we were all heart, we would be content just working at a soup kitchen or a relief agency. If we were all brain we would probably be doing business completely oblivious to the crying demands of survivors. All of us are here because we either have big hearts with growing business brains, or big business brains with growing or enlightened hearts. We all dream of a world where business has a great social impact and provides jobs, freedom, choice, and quality of life to survivors, their families, and their communities.

Langston Hughes wrote, “Hold fast to your dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” The women we encounter in the sex industry are broken-winged birds who cannot fly, birds caught in cages, bought and sold and with each sell they lose sight of themselves and their dreams.

Freedom businesses open up the cage doors and bring the broken-winged into a place of security, of love, of healing, and of hope.

Freedom businesses give women back their dreams and through freedom businesses women are given back their ability to fly. Hold fast to your dreams!  

Freedom business founders and leaders, hold fast to your dreams! I cannot promise it will be easy, but with each bird, each woman, who flies again, we forget the costs, the labor, the sacrifice, and we celebrate life and freedom.

Annie Dieselberg, NightLight [6]

Keynote address at the Freedom Business Forum [7], Chiang Mai, Thailand

Delivered August 23, 2017

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Notes added by Mats Tunehag / MatsTunehag.com

[1] See http://bamglobal.org/ and http://businessasmission.com/

[2] See BAM Global Think Tank Report: “A Business Takeover: Combating the Business of the Sex Trade with Business as Mission.” http://www.matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BMTT-IG-BAM-and-Human-Trafficking-Final-Report-October-2013.pdf

[3] Jennifer & Mats Tunehag visited Annie in Bangkok in February 2015

[4] http://www.freedombusinessalliance.com/

[5] Kerry Hilton also spoke at the Freedom Business Forum. He runs a freedom business: http://freesetglobal.com/

[6] http://www.nightlightinternational.com/

[7] http://www.freedombusinessalliance.com/forum

 

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