Author: João Mordomo
Category: Workplace Ministry
To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.
A response to Daniel Devadatta’s - An Indian Perspective on Business as Mission
As I read Daniel’s article I found my heart resonating with virtually everything he wrote! The challenges in Brazil and Latin America are very, very similar. The faulty understanding of what Scripture teaches concerning sacred and secular, clergy and laity, and calling - and the resulting deficient ecclesiology - is manifest in our context in ways strikingly similar to what Daniel describes. In fact, it may be safe to say that India, by virtue of Turbocam, is ahead of Latin America with respect to the development of genuine BAM SMEs. This is not to say that there are no earnest efforts at BAM within our context. Witness, for example, Gabriela and Marcos (not their real names), Brazilans who are developing a BAM enterprise in China. According to the author, “despite their early success, there has been an underlying resistance to the idea of doing business. Coming from a culture where being a missionary is well understood and valued, Gabriela felt that business was somehow secondary, a necessity that perhaps got in the way of the real purpose for being in China. She shares, ‘I had resisted business. I didn’t want to admit that I was a business woman!’” Sadly, this type of resistance is cultivated, if not encouraged, in our ecclesiastical context where the laity often are still considered second-class citizens. Hundreds, if not thousands, of believers from Central and South America have found themselves in Gabriela’s shoes in recent years. They feel called to missions and the only response their church leaders know (or choose) to give them is, “quit your profession, go to seminary, get ordained, raise your support, and be sent as a traditional missionary.” This was often good advice in the past, but times have changed, and this “traditional missionary model” just doesn’t cut it anymore.
The good news is that as the need for a new paradigm becomes clear, so does the response. For example, Decio de Carvalho, the executive director of COMIBAM (The Ibero-American Missionary Cooperation), a network of missions agencies that spans Central and South America and the Iberian Peninsula, has made Business as Mission a strategic priority and in March of 2011, COMIBAM assembled a BAM team responsible for catalyzing BAM awareness, training and deployment in and from the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. Similarly, in October 2011, the Brazilian Association of Cross-Cultural Missions formed a department called “Professionals and Businesses in Mission”, whose mandate is not unlike that of COMIBAM’s BAM team.
I echo Daniel’s opening words: “I believe the time has come for more Christians to unashamedly enter the realm of business in India”...and Brazil, and Mexico, and China, and Nigeria and from everywhere else, to everywhere else. To paraphrase the Lausanne motto, “the whole (growing and thriving business community of the) Church, taking the whole (spiritually, economically, socially and environmentally transforming) Gospel to the whole world (on the wings of real, ethical, biblically-instructed business)”.
A brief look at BAM from a Brazilian perspective, see João Mordomo, “Bossa Nova, the ‘Beautiful Game’ and Business as Mision”.
For a more detailed study, see João Mordomo, “Unleashing the Brazilian Evangelical Missionary Force: The ‘Business as Mission‘ Model as an Integrated Approach for Frontier Ministry”.