One part of our vision is to create long-term sustainability. This is absolutely essential to establish God’s Kingdom. In Congolese culture it is hard for the general population to accept a pastor who also does business. Culture says that a businessman is a businessman and a pastor is a pastor and that’s final! But then I start to ask some questions…
I ask, “So a pastor can’t be a businessman because of fear that he will become corrupt?” They answer emphatically and enthusiastically, “YES, of course!” (almost in a well, duh! type of attitude.)
Then I respond, “Okay so when a pastor opens up a church and steals from the offering and expects that the congregation give him food, to work his fields and do everything for him… is that right?”
The answers then become faint with silent murmurs and puzzled looks with the final conclusion: that isn’t right either.
So then I suggest, “Why can’t a pastor be a businessman and also a pastor? Why can’t he do business in such a righteous manner that he will shame the corrupt businessmen and government officials? Why can’t a pastor do business and through his righteous dealings, he will be blessed? This is an opportunity for the ministry to be fruitful through generating income!”
Eyes light up and they start thinking to themselves and wonder why hadn’t anyone done this previously. But then I continue and tell them that if they do business in an unrighteous manner they are no better than any other businessmen and in fact will be judged harsher because they know the word of God, are a pastor but also act in an unrighteous manner. I show them this through several scripture verses, particularly Deut 25:15, Prov 11:1-8, and Prov 20:10, 23 as well as many others.
So sustainability is the way forward. If a ministry lacks funding then a ministry will be limited in outreach, but if ministry is well funded then ministry can prosper. Funds aren’t the end all for ministry but rather money is strategic for achieving success. Also with money comes a great responsibility that few Africans are able to fully handle. From a western perspective, give $100,000 USD to an impoverished pastor who may not have a college education and tell him to develop a fruitful business with it and not use a single dime for his personal use but rather only for ministry.
This is our first year experimenting with micro finance and sustainable community development. We are assisting some pastors and individuals who have demonstrated themselves to being faithful. I sat down with one pastor to develop several small business plans that can be fruitful. His ministry has been devastated by several unfortunate circumstances, morale is extremely low and poverty prevents them from moving forward from their untimely losses.
Some of our partners in America raised some funds to help, just in time not a moment too early and not a moment too late. I sat the pastor down and taught him Accounting 101, Business Principles 101, Christian Business Ethics 212, and Advanced Entrepreneurial Problem Solving 690 in a matter of a week. But I love this kind of challenge because the success of my teaching will be reflected in the success of the project. The success of the project will reflect the success of how well the leader implements the material learned.
I have great confidence in this one pastor that he will be completely successful and will be able to build his ministry in a quick time. The profit of the businesses will be used to fund the ministry for rebuilding their church, programs and outreach as well as paying some small salaries to the pastoral staff. Also, these businesses will allow unemployed, orphans and widows and opportunity to learn about business and provide them with a small salary.
As I was going through the information with this one pastor, another pastor overheard the many things I was teaching. So I began to teach him about how to operate some small businesses and showed him how much profit can be made. He was so surprised and impressed with the thoroughness and detail of the analysis I prepared. A light bulb went on. He began to inquire more and more about business principles. In less than a day I went from wearing only a “partner in ministry” hat to having been given to wear a “chief financial advisor” hat, “small business consultant” hat, “Christian business counselor” hat, and “sustainable ministry developer” hat amongst a few others.
I am happy to wear these hats because they empower Africa. Africa has suffered from a lack of foreign direct investment. Africa has suffered from unfavorable business practices by the west. Africa has suffered from corruption within their own local, provincial and national governments.
We have preached from the pulpit time and again that if we give a fish we are not doing anything. In fact by giving unconditionally we are harming them by fostering paternalism. But, if we teach them how to fish then I will gladly take the time to teach and develop. I said that if someone wants to take the time to learn then I will gladly help them start a business if they follow the principles I teach. So far, I have yet to have anyone come forward besides a few people who are most hungry to learn.
I am fine with starting out on a small scale with few people. I told many that I will be more likely to give $100 to someone who I can teach deep Christian principles than giving a simple biscuit to someone unwilling to learn a biblical principle. After a while those who have will increase and the have-nots will want a slice of the pie. AMEN for that day! A small business enterprise will be birthed implementing Christian principles. I am all about empowering Africa. The Bible is rich with principles how to grow financially, physically, emotionally and of course spiritually. It teaches how to receive blessing and the consequences of sin. As a missionary it will be a feather in my cap to teach how to receive the blessings of God so that Africans can take hold of their own continent and abolish western paternalistic, financial and development principles forever!
Amethyst and I get very excited to see pastors passionately seek the deep mysteries (which are actually plain as day truths) of the Bible. We can’t wait to see over the next few months how the seed money sown will show the beginning shoots of long-term prosperous growth.
Please pray that the pastors don’t get overwhelmed with the accounting and business principles but rather will see the favor and blessing that comes from Godly principles. Pray that these men will establish fruitful ministries from simple Biblical principles on faith, righteousness and business. We pray that much fruit will bear so that similar projects can be implemented. If these first projects succeed then a door can be opened for future projects.