After 40+ years working in the financial world as a banker, I retired in 2008. Given the chaos from the meltdown of the financial system, my plans for post-retirement activities were upended. I wondered what I would do, given I was healthy and had garnered a boatload of experience.
Then, six years ago, while up in an apple tree doing my winter pruning, I heard a voice say, “Tom, I want you to go on a short term mission trip.” With no one else around other than my dog (who, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t speak!), I did my best Zacchaeus imitation and climbed down the tree, went into the house and sat down at my computer. Not knowing just what to search for, I googled “short term missions” and wondered what would come up. Given the number of choices, I just selected the first and hit enter.
Up came the home page for The Evangelical Alliance Mission-TEAM. In the upper right corner was a box with the words, “Wanted: Business Consultant”. I remember looking up and saying, “OK Lord, I guess it IS you calling me.” Following up on the contact information listed on the page, I made contact with TEAM. This initial contact then lead to training and preparations to go visit missionaries to provide consulting and business support. These missionaries with whom I was engaging were all missionaries who had started businesses to support their activities, as well as provide a means for meeting, connecting and sharing the Gospel with those in the communities they served.
There was a name, I learned, for this type of missionary activity: Business As Mission or BAM. In the ensuing years, my travels have connected me with dozens of people in 9 countries and, through Skype, 3 more. What this experience has taught me is that business people are critical to the BAM movement. There is a need for business skills in both the starting and the running of these businesses. Mentors are also needed to be resources that existing practitioners can rely upon for support. And if there is one thing Presbyterians have a lot of, it is business people!
In my new position as BAM Coordinator for The Antioch Partners, my focus will be on communicating to business people the need for those with business skills to become involved in the BAM movement. Those skills are critically needed and this is a wonderful way to serve the Lord for those of us who haven’t gone to Bible colleges and trained for the traditional mission field. I would love to help you or those you know learn more about how you can be part of what God is doing, using your business skills. You can contact me at BAM@theantiochpartners.org.