Entrepreneurialism and God's Mission

There comes a day when we sit back and ask ourselves what we are going to do with our lives. In a sense, I’m still asking myself that question. But many years ago, while studying Spanish as a university student in Paraguay, I felt a nudge, a call if you will, to spend time in cross-cultural contexts advancing the gospel.

At the time, I had no idea what that entailed. The only role models I had to look to were the missionaries I had met and gotten to know in Paraguay. They were either medical doctors or preachers. As a business student, it seemed I would have to leave behind my business interests and develop a new set of skills.

Thankfully, I’ve always been good with language and have enjoyed speaking and teaching so over the years, that became the primary focus of my ministry. But a few years into my overseas ministry, I began to ask myself some new questions about why couldn’t one be a businessperson and a kingdom builder at the same time?

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When Outsourcing Changes Lives

Fast Company recently reported on the work of Samasource, a company that trains Sudanese and Somalian refugees that are currently residing in Kenya. The refugees are taught basic computer skills and are employed at a local computer center managed by CARE. Businesses from the US, then contract with the organization to complete computer tasks and in doing so pay them a wage ($2 a day) that is four times what they would be paid breaking rocks in a nearby quarry. $2 a day may not sound like much to us, but for these refugees it's changing their lives.

And this is an amazing thing. We've all read plenty about the damage that outsourcing can do, both to a domestic econcomy and when the outsourcing companies are unscrupulous with the way that they treat workers. In countries where worker protections are few, we can't overstate this concern. However, like with so many things, we have to be careful to not throw out the good with the bad. If we can better someone's life by training them with new skills, hiring them to perform productive work, and allow them to provide for themselves in ways that they previously thought were impossible, then shouldn't that be something that we celebrate? And shouldn't that be something that we actively seek to do?

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36 Hours in Kinshasa

As we approached Kinshasa International Airport, I looked out the window at the city of 10-12 million and thought about the last time I flew into LAX at night. I believe we flew over the city lights for roughly half an hour. As we flew into Kinshasa we landed in pitch black dark. This city, approximately the size of New York, has less streets with permanent lights than I have fingers on my hand.

As we step off the plane three things are immediately noticeable: 1) It’s still dark, even on the runway, 2) The 95% humidity and 84 degree heat is a blow even at nighttime, and 3) The smell of burning wood, for cooking and light, is heavy in the air.

Kinshasa is a tough place and not everyone is happy I’m there. On our first morning, we toured a work site that looked like it was from a movie set. Hundreds of men, women and children, were using sledgehammers to break down large rocks into gravel. I asked my Congolese companions if I could take a picture. They said sure and as I pulled the camera to my eye, the men started to go crazy. They were yelling at me.
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