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Sowing the Gospel in the Midst of Drought

By Richard*, Jun 7, 2016

In West Africa, a microbusiness can be a gospel lighthouse—a beacon shining the light of Christ in a dark world. One missionary walks us through communities where the character of Christian entrepreneurs is making all the difference.

Critical drought opens doors
The serious lack of rain in West Africa last year caused a poor harvest last fall. Food supplies ran out months ago and now people are slowly starving, desperately hanging on however they can until the new harvest comes later this fall.

If you are a pastor, people come to you for help. One of our pastors told me, “We are a community here. If I have half a bag of rice and my neighbors have nothing, I cannot keep the rice for myself. I must help them.” But he added, "It is hard to do that and take care of your own family."

This is true sacrifice, the kind that hurts. It is partly motivated by African cultural norms, but for these believers, far more by the compassion of Christ. And recipients see the difference. They watch, ask questions, and they remember.

A well-fed horse
The community was watching another pastor and his management of the drought. Late one night, the pastor heard a call from outside his hut. Neighbors had come in the middle of the night to ask if he would use his horse and cart to take them and their sick child to the hospital.

Why was this desperate Muslim family asking a Christian pastor for help? Because every other horse and donkey in the village was too weak to make the trip due to a critical lack of animal feed this season. 

But not Concord, the pastor’s horse. Knowing the lean months were coming, the pastor put his business training to good use and saved during the good months. Now, because he was able to feed his horse, it was the only animal in the surrounding villages strong enough to make the emergency run to the hospital.

Just a horse, but it is a vivid reminder: how we work as believers really matters! Because this brother was a good steward, the entire community saw and took note. So now Concord is the most admired horse in the area, and other villagers come and ask the pastor for advice about caring for their own animals. 

Business as dance floor
It is rare to find a husband-wife team in business in rural West Africa, especially one that can conduct business peacefully together. Simply unheard of in this culture, except ...

“We have been watching you. When you and your wife work in your boutique you never get angry, fight, or shout at each other. Indeed, you laugh and appear to enjoy each other as you work. How is it that you can do this?”

At first the husband and wife entrepreneurs didn't realize what was going on. But they went to a marriage seminar taught by a good friend of mine. He used the metaphor of dancing to illustrate good and bad relations between husband and wife. The partners can dance far apart and do their own thing (very typical of marriages in West Africa), or as taught in Scripture they can embrace each other and enjoy the intimacy of dancing in step together.

Once they returned home the couple talked and began to understand that they were “dancing together” but they hadn't realized they had an audience. And their business was their dance floor.

The whole community was watching, wondering, and soon, asking. This is how the gospel slowly but powerfully begins to seep into a community, and transforms it.

Richard is helping to change the world through business, equipping the national Church in West Africa to take the gospel to their own people as part of MTW’s Business As Mission ministry.

*last name withheld for security reasons.

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Business As Mission: Change the world through business 

Many families throughout the world struggle just to survive. Using business acumen and a heart for ministry, MTW missionaries and volunteers help believers in underprivileged communities around the world start businesses and help train entrepreneurs on best practices in running a business. 

Local communities and churches benefit from having their people involved in business that is based on sound Christian principles. And doors that are closed to local pastors open more freely when business is being discussed. The potential for business as a path to outreach is changing churches—especially in restricted-access countries. 

Are you business-savvy?
Consider using your business experience in global missions. Think of your business knowledge as a universal language that can be used to form personal relationships as a vehicle for outreach. Sharing your knowledge as well as your life can be a powerful witness for Christ.

We have short- and longer-term opportunities to serve with MTW’s Workplace Ministries. Visit Workplace Ministries to express an interest in serving and we’ll match an opportunity to your interests.

 

 

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