August 19, 2014

Top Five Ways to Become a Business Investor

By Brittany Tedesco

Why do people start their own businesses?

For many reasons, I´m sure, but I´m guessing the main reason is so they can make a living while doing what they love.

My husband and I love coffee, and years ago we talked (joked mainly) about starting a morning coffee delivery service that people, who didn´t want to make their own coffee or leave their house to go to a café, could call upon. My husband would put on a poncho and straw hat, fetch the mule from the trailer hitched to the back of his truck, and show up on people´s doorsteps looking like Juan Valdez with a fresh cup of coffee.

Our business idea has remained only an idea (one I´m offering for free to all of you readers out there). Not so for the many indigenous ministries that asked Christian Aid Mission for help to start businesses to enable them to more efficiently do what they love to do: share Christ.

Though Christian Aid doesn´t provide full support to any of the ministries we assist, we have provided many of them with the means to start income-generating projects that will meet their needs well into the foreseeable future. Whether it be the rubber plantation we helped fund in Bangladesh, the water buffalo project in the Philippines, or the many sewing projects in India—we let them tell us what kind of project best complements their unique ministry and outreach.

In many cases, a small business doesn´t just provide a missionary with income—it is the very avenue through which a missionary can reach people.

But don´t just take my word for it. Take a look at the following top five examples of how a business, established by a Christian Aid-assisted ministry, has transformed lives and furthered the spread of the gospel among unreached people.

5. Indonesia

On the Indonesian island of Bali, Christians aren´t readily accepted. The population is 87% Hindu, and dear to the heart of the man who started a ministry built around friendship evangelism. This ministry leader has provided several hundred dollars each to Christians on the island who are ready to open small businesses to further the spread of the gospel. One of these believers sells ice cream and popsicles door-to-door, and has baptized more than 30 people in the last two years. The other 11 gospel workers have income-generating projects ranging from selling meatballs, to raising farm animals, to operating a laundry service. They´re often welcomed into people´s homes for sit-down visits.

One missionary entered the home of a couple deeply involved in the occult. “They told me they had killed many people with their black magic, but when they tried to heal someone with their magic, the person would only stay healthy for a few months before becoming ill again,” the missionary told us. He prayed for them, and reported: “they agreed they would like to have my pastor come and pray for them to deliver them from their magic.”

4. Egypt

In response to the high unemployment rate in Egypt, one man decided to start a ministry to share the gospel while raising people´s standards of living. The ministry began by providing loans to individuals to start small businesses, and it has expanded to include vocational training in carpentry, painting, electronics, cooking, plumbing, computer courses, etc. More than 1,000 women are enrolled in sewing and cosmetology courses.

Mariam, a 35-year-old single woman, was working in a pharmacy before she quit because of derogatory comments from people in her village. In Upper Egypt, people consider it shameful for a woman Mariam´s age to still be single, let alone work outside the home. Mariam went to the ministry for training in women´s hairdressing, and now she´s able to work from her home. On the last day of her training, she expressed her forgiveness of the people who hurt her, just as Jesus forgave her.

3. Argentina

When the founder of a ministry in Argentina first began his work among the Wichi people in 1991, this tribe was considered the “poorest of the poor.” Secluded from society, many Wichi children often died of starvation. Those who did survive had “no hope whatsoever of receiving any education.”

As the leader shared Christ, he found that the Wichi were incredibly open to the gospel. With help from Christian Aid, he started “tent-making” businesses for Wichi believers, such as greenhouses, vegetable gardens, and brickmaking.

The Wichi began selling flowers and produce in town. They started building brick houses. Before then, their houses “were precarious constructions of logs and branches with straw roofs without kitchens or toilets.”

With their earnings, the community built La Esperanza (Hope) Center where children and adults can go to receive education and vocational training.

“The miracle that evangelism brings about is not only in preparing people for life eternal, but also in raising their standard of living now,” the leader wrote to us.

Today, nearly 30% of the Wichi in Argentina are born again believers.

2. Nepal

A married couple who started a thriving ministry in Nepal understands that a native missionary in that poor nation must have a way to earn income—not only to provide for himself, but also for the many needy people around him.

They´ve provided countless gospel workers with income-generating projects, but one of my favorite examples is what happened after the couple gave goats and orange trees to the families of five gospel workers among the poor Tamang people.

They told the five workers that, after the goats starting reproducing, they were to give one baby goat to another poor family. They agreed, and four years later, the five families´ incomes had greatly increased. Those who started with five goats now had 20 goats…and plenty of oranges. Together, the families were able to donate a piece of land on which a church was built. “From everywhere around the area, you can now see the cross on top of the church,” the couple told Christian Aid.

1. Pakistan

One of the most remarkable income-generating projects, to me, is in Pakistan. Here, where the population is 99% Muslim, a ministry earns income by—wait for it—selling Bibles!

As you can imagine, it´s not always smooth sailing for the ministry´s workers. Some of them have been detained by police. Others have been prohibited from selling Bibles in certain areas. One of the workers was beaten twice in his home by an angry mob. Another has been nicknamed the “jail specialist” because of his 18 arrests.

However, in the past 20 years, the ministry has sold more than 85,000 Bibles and/or New Testaments. In fact, the workers are heading toward this year´s goal of selling 2,000 Bibles before the end of August in an area near a Taliban training camp. “Our stock of Scripture is exhausting very fast,” the ministry leader told us. “Every day 30 to 35 Bibles are going out.”

By supporting one of these income-generating projects, you´re becoming a business investor in the most important work on earth: building the Kingdom. It´s an investment that will continue producing dividends well into eternity. “Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33 NIV).

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Ambrose - posted August 22, 2014
Really encouraging and faith building to read all those types of evangelism.
Brittany Tedesco - posted August 20, 2014
Thanks for your comment, Juana! You are correct that Indonesia is overwhelmingly Muslim (Sunni). It is one of the world’s top Muslim majority countries. Less than 2% of the country as a whole is Hindu, but that 2% lives on the island of Bali. Out of the 6,000 islands that are inhabited in Indonesia, Bali is definitely an anomaly with the majority of Balinese practicing Hinduism.
Juana - posted August 20, 2014
Great story. Just wondering. I thought Indonesia was overwhelming Muslim not Hindu.