Nairobi (MNN) — In Kenya, some businesses play rough. Unethical business practices and disrespect could result in physical harm, in extreme cases. That's why the International Mission Board addressed "boldness" as a main topic at its recent training conference; the topic was chosen by participants from a list of positive character traits. The topic isn't defined as aggression, but instead as "boldness which speaks and acts from a clear conscience"
"It's directly out of the Bible," says Peter Green, a Southern Baptist worker who helps lead the seminars. "These are concepts [the managers] hardly ever see lived out. But we present them as management skills, leadership and relational skills for profit-making. We believe every one of these topics will earn a company more money if they will practice it."
Committed and content employees will result in better products, leading to loyal customers. Approximately fifty young human resource managers attended the conference, with most belonging to the upper-middle and lower-upper classes of Nairobi; average monthly income ranged between $2,000 and $3,000. Some of the attendees were black Kenyans, while others were ethnic South Asians. Although they represent only 10% of the population, Asians fill nearly half of Kenya's executive business positions.
"We're praying for contacts in high positions who will stem the tide and take a stand for Christian ethics," Green says.
Asian Hindus and Muslims view the "Christianity" in Kenya as hypocrisy, challenging the work of Green and his co-workers.
"The business world here is run in a Mafia environment," said Green. "That's true for the Asian sector and the African sector. Young people in Kenya don't have any hope that they can really get anywhere in life without becoming part of the corruption machine."
IMB counters corruption through their training seminars by offering positive business practices, such as boldness. To practice boldness, managers had to rely on each other's help and encouragement to make it through a challenging rope course. The program is about "20 percent theory and 80 percent application," Green estimates.
Aiming to quietly penetrate Nairobi's business community with the Gospel, Green and Kenyan co-workers use these seminars as a relational form of outreach. They consider the conferences a "pre-evangelism" step. Friendships and opportunities to share the Gospel follow as satisfied customers invite IMB workers to their companies for additional training.