“To stay at the farm, they have to inform the local authorities and seek their approval. You can expect to be raided in the middle of the night. No foreigners are allowed to stay in the villages and communes overnight without prior permission and acceptance from the local authorities. Foreigners visiting and interacting with the local tribal people are closely monitored and not favorably treated.”
Has your heart rate gone up? These jarring lines are copied from actual correspondence regarding a Mandate trip to a very restricted area. The most amazing part? Mandate was not only allowed but welcomed for one pivotal reason: we were recruited for a training in a much-needed professional area.
This problem is not unique to this trip, nor are we the first to encounter this hurdle. This is one of many perfect examples of when going as a traditional missionary or evangelist simply does not work. In specific parts of the world the only way in is skilled professionals offering a service or training to the community that is seen as desirable by the government.
The correspondence went on the say that the last trip to this location required bodyguards. Yikes! It casually recommended having multiple passport copies on you in case your original gets confiscated. It’s enough to keep anyone on edge, but there’s little to fear when you’ve come to do exactly the job they’ve asked you to do. Encounters like these are fresh in my mind as Mandate prepares to attend the B4T Conference at the close of this month.
B4T stands for “Business for Transformation”. The concept behind this movement is that to transform an entire community, area, and- ultimately- nation, all that’s needed is a good business and a heart that’s dedicated to hearing the Holy Spirit. Contrary to the belief of some, B4T is not setting up business “fronts” or “shells” for ministry. Business and making a profit may seem the farthest thing from missions, but a well-performing business that creates revenue for the nation and advances the people can be a powerful tool for the kingdom.
In one restricted nation that cannot be named for security reasons, the business being run there is a secular one. From all appearances it is just like the others of its kind. It treats its employees well and strives to be the best in the business. There is no preaching. There is no evangelizing. It is regularly monitored by the authorities. There is, however, an understated and silent prayer walk around the business. It’s done without explanation or invitation to the locals employed. Moves as small as this one caused one employee to begin asking questions about Christianity. This local was so moved by her Christian coworkers that she began a church plant- something foreigners could never do. This is good business as ministry.
Professional skills are something everyone has. What are yours? This week, begin praying about where God is calling you to use your skills (whether it be right where you are or across the globe). Also pray about how your profession can become a living witness for the gospel. Transform what’s around you simply by viewing your placement and skills through the lens of usefulness to the Kingdom of God. Then take the next step. If a move overseas is in order, it’s time to reach out to us! If you’re to stay where you’re planted, do your part by following the B4T movement, attending the expo with us, choosing a B4T organization like Mandate to partner with financially, or researching local B4T groups in your area. You may find that your career could become more rewarding than you ever imagined.