What a great gathering Grace Brethren International Missions (GBIM) has been having this week! Missionary businesspeople from all over the world have gathered for a Microenterprise Development Conference, which is being convened by Stuart Hake, the CFO of GBIM.
I’ll reproduce here an article on the conference that has been prepared for the July, 2004 issue of FGBC World. I’ve been attending parts of the conference, and have found the presentations from the fields to be especially challenging. The complexity of doing business in these other cultures is sometimes staggering–but the advantanges are great. The businesses are providing jobs, helping the poor, providing a witness, and much more. I particularly appreciated hearing the emphasis on business AS mission, rather than business FOR mission, or business WITH mission, etc. Here is the article:
Mission Leaders Strategize Microenterprise Development
An innovative “Microenterprise Development Conference” was held in Winona Lake, Indiana, June 1-5. Some 35 missionary businesspersons from all over the world gathered for five days of sharing, challenge, and instruction.
Convened by Stuart Hake, CFO of Grace Brethren International Missions (GBIM), the conference consisted of three parts: instruction on the basics of business in missions, case studies, and small-group projects.
The lead speaker, who challenged participants each morning, was David R. Befus, Ph.D., president of Latin America Mission. Befus, who grew up in the Latin world as a missionary kid, has more than 30 years of promoting economic activity linked with missionary work. He has served with Opportunity International, World Relief, and World Vision as a consultant for economic development. He is the author of Kingdom Business: The Ministry of Promoting Economic Activity, which was used as a text for the conference.
Each afternoon, Grace Brethren business developers, church leaders and missionaries from around the world shared their unique stories of how God was using them in manufacturing, commerce, teaching computer skills, the making of small-business loans, and more. Presenters were from a predominantly Muslim country, Africa, Central Asia, and Argentina.
In the third component, a small-group project activity, participants met in groups of four to define projects, articulate biblical foundations and to do environmental analysis and develop numerical projections and to begin making business plans. Public presentations of the projects were made on Saturday, the final day of the conference.
The three goals of the conference were: (1) to develop a Christian theology of poverty including biblical teaching on the poor, poverty, and work as well as causes and misconceptions of poverty; (2) to explore strategies for creating income streams for local churches and Christian workers (assisting national churches and leaders to become financially self sufficient and not dependent); and (3) to understand the power of an authentic witness in a local community through Kingdom businesses (what it means to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom in the 21st century).
Dave Guiles, Executive Director of GBIM, commenting on the four-fifths of the world’s population that lives below the American poverty line, said, “Unemployment and poverty are detrimental to people’s ability to survive.” He further said, “GBIM is taking seriously the need to explore poverty alleviation through micro-enterprise development.”
Reports, and further developmental steps will be reported in GBIM’s publications and on its website at www.gbim.org.