ANOTHER VIEW: Marketplace impacts global missions_110804

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Posted: 11/05/04

Marketplace impacts global missions

By Kyle B. Usrey

If we believe our Lord is truly sovereign over all, then he is Lord of the marketplace, as well.

For many Christians, the very idea of God's involvement in the free enterprise system is anathema. After all, didn't Jesus run the moneychangers from the temple? Don't many of the parables deal with oppression of the poor? How can wealth creation actually be part of the gospel?

For decades, pastors have used business people in their congregations as cash cows, grateful for the money they contribute to the true “holy” callings. They admonish Christians in business to beware filthy lucre of the market while exalting them to be salt and light in the nasty, brutish world of globalization. Yet the message most Christians in business receive is that they are second-rate, flawed and worse, compromised by their professions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Kyle B. Usrey

Globalization and missions in the 21st century disprove these biases against business. Jesus, a carpenter, was part of the marketplace himself. In fact, mission organizations are finding business is the preferred platform for sending missionaries into closed countries. And missions organizations are finding that a business platform has to be legitimate and not a ruse. Otherwise, the duplicity of sending missionaries unprepared to compete in the rough-and-tumble business world of a foreign climate can destroy any ministry's effectiveness.

Baptists historically have integrated their faith, refusing to segment God into niches of their lives. The ultimate integration of faith involves business as missions–both home and abroad–through Christian micro-enterprise development, called CMED, and Christian community development, or CCD. The Bible begins with mankind in a garden and ends with the fulfillment of God's kingdom in a city. In cities, Christians and Christians alone can truly make a difference through CMED and CCD.

Through CMED and CCD, Christians harness market forces within capitalism to solve social problems for God's kingdom purposes. CMED entails holistic investment in poor entrepreneurs, overlooked by traditional financiers but gifted to transform market opportunities into job creation with just a small amount of money. About 10 percent of every society is truly entrepreneurial. And entrepreneurs and small businesses, not multinational corporations, create the most jobs.

Mission organizations are finding business is the preferred platform for sending missionaries into closed countries.

People like David Bussau, in Sydney, Australia, with an organization based out of the Philippines, have spread the “social wealth gospel” through CMED in the poorest urban reaches of the world for more than 25 years. His organizations have financed more than 2 million entrepreneurs in the Two-Thirds World and lifted 10 million people out of poverty during the last five years.

Based on his success in more than 60 countries, Bussau was invited by the North Korean government to invest his entrepreneurial focus in one of the last bastions of communism. Conversations with militant radicals and terrorists in Southeast Asia have led him and others to believe many of the youth recruited for such organizations would lay down their weapons if they only had meaningful jobs–jobs that can be created in an entrepreneurial micro-enterprise environment. Nowhere else could outreach like this have such a dramatic impact to reduce isolation, oppression and violence.

Christian community development involves similar market intervention–asset-based development that provides seed money to transform poverty-laden neighborhoods so markets can take over and yield socially transformed integrated model communities.

The issue that Christians face in CCD is how to transform neighborhoods without gentrifying them, without merely relocating the poor as a result of the economic turn-around that was jump-started by Christian business and community leaders. Chief CCD practitioners have had enormous impact for Christ in their communities–from John Perkins and Wayne Gordon in Chicago, to Robert Lupton in Atlanta and Mack McArter in Shreveport. Even a few business schools in Christian colleges and some smaller cities are applying these principles in curriculum and through churches to spread the whole gospel to the whole world through the whole body of Christ.

So, lives are transformed through both the social gospel and the salvation gospel of the New Testament. And new research reveals the historic and modern nature of the “marketplace” is expansive, involving government and education, as well.

Soon, the Apostle Paul's statement in Ephesians 1:18-19a can be realized: “Pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Such enlightenment may reveal the harvest fields are ripe, because Christians in business, government and education act collaboratively in ways that can only be seen as faith-based and God-led.

Kyle B. Usrey is dean of the School of Global Commerce and Management at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., and a former faculty member at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

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