No business, big or small, escaped the impact of Covid-19, creating a challenge for many of our missional business people.
Almost a quarter of all businesses in the UK temporarily closed in 2020 because of Covid-19, while in India, 82% of small businesses suffered a negative impact on their business.
A great majority of these business owners were indigenous, so how much more challenging was it for those who were operating small businesses outside their passport country? Such was the case for many of our mission workers, says JP, SIM’s Ministry Point Person for business ministries.
“Some existing BAM (Business as Mission) enterprises were impacted by Covid-19 more than others, with tourism and hospitality, the hardest hit,” he says.
“When it was clear the pandemic would be long-lasting, some of these businesses had to close, at least temporarily, or find alternative strategies to remain open.
“One person who had a tourism business was asked by a like-minded organisation if he could use his tourism vehicles to deliver food and essentials to hard-hit areas of his city. He gladly agreed!
“This was noticed by some business organisations in the area and he was then asked if he and his vehicles could be hired to make deliveries to homes during the Covid lockdown?
“Although it wasn’t as profitable as his tourism business, he was able to keep most of his employees working part-time and make enough money to avoid closing down.”
Other business owners used the pandemic to reflect on and re-evaluate their ministry.
- One BAM business owner in Pacific Asia used the slowdown to develop a more intentional mission strategy for their business plan and another BAM business owner in South Asia used the reduced workload caused by the pandemic to improve the development of her staff.
- A BAM couple in the Middle East, who’d been in business there for more than 20 years, were in their passport country visiting family and friends when Covid hit and then couldn’t return for 16 months.
During that time, their staff of approximately 10 local women ran every area of the business with exceptional results and was the greatest testimony of God’s faithfulness to the business and the result of years of training and discipleship the couple had invested in these women.
- In South East Asia, our teams faced significant delays at the beginning of Covid lockdowns in being able to get products out of their countries because there were fewer flights and much tougher export controls.
“This impacted sales and the wages their local employees could receive,” adds JP.
“However, they were greatly encouraged by the ability of local SIM workers to be able to continue to sell their products and continue building relationships.
“They even had opportunity to participate in the Christian wedding ceremony and baptism of two of their weavers, who’d come to faith since SIM workers began working with the Muslim women five years ago.
“Business is challenging even when things are good. When you compound the challenges of running a business cross-culturally with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, the view can be quite dismal. However, it’s been very encouraging to see the faithfulness of our God combined with the resilience of our BAM workers.
“And when a business is profitable, it becomes part of your testimony and how you build trust in the community with other business leaders and people.”
Although Business as Mission is still a newer concept for SIM, JP is encouraged by conversations with colleagues and other sending entities.
“This is a lot of new ground,” he says, “and we’re all learning as we go. This deviates from the traditional style of mission work, so it’s a paradigm shift for workers who’ve been in the field for many years. We’re helping them along; viewing businesses as just another tool in our toolbox to reach places where Christ is least known.”
If you are interested in using your business skills in mission, take a look at the many opportunities available, or fill out an enquiry form and one of our Mobilisation Support team will be in contact.
- For more business-minded people to be raised up for gospel mission across the world.
- That the owners of businesses with a gospel intention will be kept safe.
- That these businesses would make a real impact for Jesus in places where he is least known.