My wife and I are in Rwanda and have applied for two year residence visas. We looked at the list of visas that could be applied for and decided that ‘Missionary’ seemed most appropriate. I am an accountant and have been asked to help one of the church umbrella organisations. We are also working with churches to alleviate poverty, and I am doing a little preaching on the side.
At the immigration office, we were told that because I was not a Bishop we couldn’t be missionaries! This led to some thinking about what exactly a Christian missionary is. Our work here is overtly Christian. The objects of the charity which has sent us are to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ, yet being a mere Christian who has not yet been (and unlikely ever to be) promoted to the rank of Bishop doesn’t seem to fit the bill here. I always thought Bishops were far too busy to get involved in coal-face missionary work.
This doesn’t faze us. There is much about Rwanda we have yet to understand and this is but one irritation among many. I think God is working on our patience; this week’s message at the church is on the fruit of the Spirit. More to the point, I came to understand an approach to mission in my previous life as an accountant and came to the conclusion that mission was not a protected dominion of churchmen. This approach was Business as Mission (BAM) which has a strong following across the world.
My first introduction to BAM was a paper written by Mats Tunehag, a Swedish journalist, in 2006. You can read more about him at http://www.lausanne.org/issue-business-as-mission/mats-tunehag.html
BAM has been developed into an international cause which says that business isn’t the dirty work that is done away from church. God created us to work and for those that run businesses, that is as much part of their Christian mission as anything else. Businesses can be used as Christian witnesses, particularly to assist communities in developing countries. It takes the view that business can be used to manifest God in the market place. This is not ‘tent-making’ as Paul used his trade to support his travels and preaching. BAM sees a business as being managed using Biblical principles and having a God-given purpose.
I believe that God has a calling for all of us and equips us with the skills and acumen to do the job. For some, that is being a pastor (or Bishop). For others it is being a businessman, or even an accountant. So, just because I am not a Bishop, doesn’t mean to say that we can’t go about God’s work. And if that isn’t missionary work I don’t know what is.