India (MNN) – Whether it’s conscious or not, the global Church seems to have adopted a mindset that says “Work is work, evangelism is evangelism, and the only time those two things converge is when you’re a full-time missionary.” However, more and more people are coming to realize this simply isn’t true, nor should believers act like it is. The places where this is the most obvious is in countries where the window for traditional outreach is closing and marketplace missions might be the primary means of sharing the Gospel.
Recently, Global Advance brought a team to India to encourage believers in the marketplace to use their position in a way that worships God and opens opportunities to tell others about him. India in particular is one of those places where ministry is facing a number of challenges. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for foreign ministries to fund outreach.
Jonathan Shibley of Global Advance says, “There may come a day where it’s almost impossible to get money into closed access nations and that’s why it is so strategic to raise up godly kingdom marketplace leaders who will be the ones that are not only called to be salt and light, but from a practical standpoint, they’re going to be the ones that are going to financially fund kingdom work within their own nations.”
For the past 14 years or so, Global Advance has encouraged this strategy among marketplace leaders. They have come alongside Indians to support them and to help them see “that their work is a form of worship to God, that God can use them in the marketplace through whatever realm of business or activity that they’re in to be salt and light in the nation and in a nation like India where some of the states are really cracking down on proselytizing.”
The trend of raising up native leadership is vital in many nations when you consider cultural relevance and security concerns.
Jesus called us to be fishers of men
There are many different ways to engage with people and begin to build relationships with them where spiritual things like salvation can be discussed. Global Advance believes that we should not forget the marketplace as one of these avenues. The organization draws parallels between Christ’s disciples and us today. The disciples were ordinary, working men who God called to serve him in evangelism. He called them to be fishers of men, and he calls all of us to do the same today.
“People are still open to the Gospel in the sense that everyone is wired the same way, globally. Everyone cares about their family, their future, and their finances. So if we can fish with the correct bait, people will be always drawn to the message and the hope of Christ.”
The correct bait is the Gospel given in a context that meets people where they are. That is because the thing that everyone is looking for is fulfillment and meaning in life, something that only truly comes through the Gospel.
It is this mindset that Global Advance wants to encourage among marketplace believers.
A construction company with a heart for lost people
One of the examples Shibley talks about is a construction company in India. The company employs many believers and some non-believers.
“The owners have a great vision to use that business to be a blessing there in the city and in the nation. And … they’ve launched schools out of the business itself. They take care of children, they take care of orphans. They help fund Kingdom activities throughout the nation, they help fund church planters and churches.
“And so, this business is [a] very multi-faceted, dynamic thing that God birthed through believers there in the nation that have a vision to use that as a form of ministry. And … just the very work that they put out is of excellence.”
In all things, Shibley says, we are to shine as a light before men, and that includes the quality of our work.
But like many of us, the idea doesn’t come naturally that we can worship throughout the week and not just on Sundays or that we can spend our lives telling others about God, even if we aren’t missionaries. Shibley says Global Advance is working to change that mindset through churches and pastoral leadership around the world through their training and conferences.
What should we do?
This story isn’t just about believers in India or even believers overseas in nations hostile to the Gospel. This is a story for all of us. So, if you want to get involved, Shibley suggests you start with prayer.
“Number one, ask yourself, ‘what is my occupation and how could God use me today wherever I am for his glory?’ And then thinking globally about missions, maybe in a new way, … pray that God would send workers into the harvest field, and maybe part of that harvest field is also the marketplace around the world.”
And if you’re a business person, consider deploying with Global Advance to share your business skills with believers in another country. To get started with Global Advance, click here.