FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — An entrepreneur with a fruitful career using business as a platform for the Gospel played a key role in a mission trip to Central Asia by nine students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary this fall.
Although Business as Missions had previously been offered at the Southwestern, the course included a mission trip to Central Asia for the first time.
Dean Sieberhagen, associate professor of missions and Islamic studies, said the trip provided a practical component to the course, allowing students to go beyond classroom theory to see firsthand a unique avenue for reaching people in and through the marketplace.
Business as missions offers “the opportunity to overcome the sacred/secular divide,” Sieberhagen said. “When you get up on Monday and go wherever you are going, that is missions. You are living out your faith in whatever you do.”
He added, “When you say ‘missions,’ people think of what we call ‘traditional missions.’ However, in many countries, you cannot do that. There is this idea that there are levels of society with which the traditional missionary does not have an audience. If you go to a country as an employee or entrepreneur, you have a natural audience with those people in a day-to-day way.”
In addition to working with the entrepreneur, students on the trip also assisted people in startup businesses. In the mornings and early afternoons, they divided into groups to either scout for potential shop locations or do market research, including visiting businesses, talking to store owners and gathering information about their target markets and customers. Later afternoons and evenings were then spent prayerwalking and touring historical sites.
In one-on-one time with the entrepreneur, the students learned practical steps to use their talents and skills in business as missions.
Master of divinity student Dolores Adamick*, who received her undergraduate degree in marketing and is considering a business model for her future mission work, recounted, “I met the Lord in college, and the initial joy of salvation came from knowing that God loved me and showed grace upon me, who was lost, but also that He wanted to show grace upon other people who are lost. He really gave me a heart for the lost, specifically the Muslim people group.”
Through the Sept. 26-Oct. 2 trip, Adamick said, God used the entrepreneur to affirm her calling to international missions and also revealed new possibilities for using her marketing background and skills.
“[The entrepreneur] really invested in our lives and spent time to find God’s vision for us,” Adamick said. “He wanted us to learn what it is to struggle through business and missions but to also find joy in the place that God has called us. We all left this trip amazed and encouraged because we didn’t even know this was something God had for us.”
Adamick said it is important to remember that business as missions does not replace traditional forms of mission work but rather supplements them. “Business-as-missions professionals can’t do it alone,” she said. “We need church planters all over this world.”
Master of arts student Nicole Sharp* also is considering this model of missions. Although she doesn’t have any business background, she saw it as a practical way to spread the Gospel wherever she might find herself in ministry.
“I think it is important for people to know that the business-as-missions ministry model can be an everyday life model,” Sharp said. “As believers, we are called to be a light no matter where we are. The business field is one of the biggest mission fields out there. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, you can have a Kingdom plan. You can be intentional wherever you are and in whatever you do.”