Business as missions creates new opportunities to share Gospel

By September 17, 2009

International (MNN) — Have you ever considered buying
antique furniture or making hand-crafted goods a type of ministry?

For individuals all around the globe involved with business
as mission, their trade has become their outreach. One of the many
organizations using a new missions approach, PIONEERS has used business as
mission since they began their ministry. However, in the past three to five
years, business as mission has become an incredible opportunity for
cross-cultural missions.

In nations closed to the Gospel, this ministry provided a
means of gaining access to these countries. However, Ted Esler with PIONEERS said
the individual's trade is so much more than just a point of access.

"Many of the folks that work with us don't simply use it to
get into the country, but they actually see the business itself as part of the
ministry–a way to get to know people, a way to serve families. Everybody globally
has economic needs, and this is one way to assist in these needs," Esler said.

In Eastern Asia, Esler said an example of this is
cross-cultural workers and national Christians who began a business collecting antique
furniture from individuals all throughout rural areas of East Asia. As they traveled,
they have formed a network of people to which they minister. In addition to the
relationships formed, the business has been profitable, and the funds have been
used to train indigenous people in missions and church-planting.

"It is very effective at putting cross-cultural workers in
direct relationships with nationals. So it does provide a means of getting
into the lives of people that is very understandable in the indigenous culture,
and it does help evangelistically," he said.

Not only does business as mission help form relationships
with the indigenous people of closed countries, it also shares the Gospel with varied
audiences in areas which already have a strong missions presence.

"The truth is, even [in] places that are open to the Gospel,
like countries in Africa, we're finding that business as mission is a great entrée,"
Esler said. "In terms of gaining access to the hearts and minds of people, it's
a very effective tool."

PIONEERS has seen the success of business as mission specifically
in China. As the missionaries there have shared their faith with their co-workers,
they have seen churches planted with the walls of their business and the power
of Christ's love.

To inform people in the U.S. interested in business as mission,
PIONEERS is holding their Venture '09 conference in the Los Angeles area from
November 5 through the 7. Individuals who attend will
hear from several missionaries already involved in business as mission from
five different countries, with ministries ranging from hand-crafted goods to major
manufacturers. Esler said each speaker will share the advantages and downfalls
of their ministry.

"If you are thinking about how you could use your business
skills cross-culturally, this really is a good way to evaluate that," Esler
said.

PIONEERS plans to keep the conference small, with only 200
people attending. Esler said they feel this intimate atmosphere is best for such
a complex topic. The conference costs $179 per person, and you can learn more
details about the conference by visiting venture09.com.
Esler said there is still plenty of space for people to attend the conference.

While there is a huge need for business people all across
the globe, PIONEERS also needs U.S.-based consultants and business owners. Thus,
people can help, even if they are not in a foreign country.

In addition to encouraging people to attend the conference, Esler said,
"If you have any thought whatsoever about getting involved
in business as mission…the best thing you can do would be to get overseas
yourself on a short-term trip and visit with somebody who's doing it."

To learn more about business as mission and how to become
involved beyond Venture '09, visit PIONEERS Web site.

Also, pray for people who hear this call and respond. Esler
said for many people, running a business in the U.S. is a challenge where the
economic climate is known. As people travel cross-culturally, they face
additional economic challenges and questions on how to develop a redemptive
business. Pray for these people to have realistic expectations and to not burn
themselves out.

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