Communio Messianica’s “Business as Mission” Challenge

One of the biggest challenges CM faces at the moment, is how to help MBBs remain in their countries and cultural contexts as witnesses for Christ. Traditionally, most converts from Islam had to leave their homes, contexts, and countries. They were – and for the most part still are – disowned by their families, thrown out of their homes, threatened with death if they do not return to Islam. Thankfully, ever more families are turning to Christ. In these cases persecution does not go away, but if a family comes to Christ, they have much better chances of finding a way to stay in their homeland. Since most converts also lose their jobs due to social pressure from the Muslim community, a major challenge is to find a way of earning a living. Almost no Muslim will employ an “apostate”. For this reason MBBs have been known to keep their conversion a secret, but this is by no means a satisfactory life. In Communio Messianica we gather former Muslims who wish to openly follow Christ and live as “salt” and “light” in their context, leading others from darkness into Light.

For these reasons CM is addressing the issue of developing ways and means for MBBs to be able to stay in their regions. Our four guiding principles are:

  1. MBBs should be able to make their own living sustainably and independently through a profession that meets personal/family and Church/fellowship needs.  They want to be able to remain in their own context or as close to their place of origin as possible.
  2. MBBs want to serve their own community/society – if they or their services are needed by society at large, they are more likely to be accepted by the otherwise hostile Muslim community. Mission Schools and Hospitals were intended as such services and met with great acceptance because they met real needs, but rarely were they financially self-sufficient and sustainable.
  3. MBBs want to be a witness through their normal, everyday business or professional contacts. If they are successful in their work and business they will automatically come into contact with other people as customers, clients, suppliers and so forth.
  4. MBB run businesses could provide the CM worldwide network with an infrastructure for many ways of communication and collaboration in the respective countries.

The buzzwords “Business as Mission” or “tentmaker ministries” generally refer to a strategy used by foreign missionaries needing legitimization to live in the country where they serve. 

In difference to other “Business as Mission” (BaM) or “Tentmaking” Mission models, BaM in the CM context does not seek western experts to promote development aid or evangelize in the 10/40 window. This definitely has its place and remains a viable option for foreign missionaries and development aid workers.

CM’s BaM focus, however, is to identify talented local MBBs who have basic economic knowledge and skills ("entrepreneurial spirit") or professional expertise for areas of employment where CM and its partners can empower and/or enable them.

The goal is profitable business or industry which generates legitimate income in a sustainable way.

Some fellow Christians are suspicious of such a goal, thinking that earning money is “worldly”. Convincing is necessary here. The Apostle Paul wrote to both the Thessalonians and the Ephesians that they should work with their own hands in order to provide for themselves and others (1Th. 4,11; 2Th. 3,12; Eph. 4:28).

CM aims to support its people in this field by cooperating with like-minded businesspeople and professionals who are willing and able to assist in the consulting area, equipping people with basic business knowledge where needed to deal with the challenges of logistics, resistance, corruption, unfair competition. While CM and its partners do not primarily give financial aid, there may be situations arising, where it makes good business sense for companies or individuals to invest. Financial help from outside at the most could be envisioned as start-up financing, but not as a "permanent iv drip".

Examples where CM’s partners already have demonstrated their expertise include sustainable energy provision, electrification, water procurement and treatment – both for drinking/hygene and agricultural needs. These badly needed services are of great importance to many communities where MBBs are seeking after a means of livelihood and could prove to be key fields for CM’s BaM efforts. CM is keen on learning the varying ideas and needs of the population in the different regions and does market research to that end. We welcome partners with a heart for assisting in this so central programme for CM and our MBBs in hostile environments.