Enterprises

Sweet As Honey

By David Lyons

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt

Can honey be a tool for advancing the Gospel in Africa? Ask one smiling couple serving with the Africa Navigators and they will give you a resounding “yes!”
 
Peter and his wife, Charity, have long had a heart for serving farmers in their country. These farmers often struggle to earn a living or pay for their children’s schooling. As Peter thought and prayed about how to reach these people for Christ and disciple them, he knew that he also needed to help them economically. But he wanted them to be self-sufficient rather than dependent on charity.
 
One day, after a visit to a beekeeper in Zambia, God gave Peter an idea about beehives. If he could provide beehives to people in the rural villages, he could then buy the honey from the hive owners and sell it for a profit. This would create a business that would bring economic benefits to the community and also fund the region’s ministry.
 
The business started with grants from the British Navigators for the honey processor and from the NavPartners Children Mission for the beehives. Oversight and direction was provided by the Africa branch of the Navigator Global Enterprise Network (GEN), the entity that coordinates Navigator “missional enterprises” around the world.
 
Peter decided to organize the honey producers into groups. He encouraged them to share the responsibility for caring for the beehives, to be accountable to each other. Then he arranged for the beehive groups to save money collectively, and to use the capital to start or grow businesses, and to pay the school tuition for village children. Thus, the beehive industry is producing a generational social impact. Moreover, Peter finds ways to share about Christ among the honey producers. The business has become a natural platform for the Gospel to bring about spiritual transformation.
 
As with all Navigator missional enterprises, business leaders work toward financial sustainability, social impact and the spiritual transformation of people who connect with the business. Peter and Charity serve together in this endeavor to ensure that the business is operating well on each of these three interconnected efforts. So far, they have engaged 233 villagers. Forty-five of these people have either started or are growing beehive enterprises. As a result of the financial growth, more and more children are able to attend school.
 
As for the impact of the Gospel, five young people are being discipled and have been trained as apicultural technicians. Peter and Charity have also trained six group leaders to be ministry leaders. Peter says that the Gospel is shared more frequently now and is better understood by the rural people, in part because they see biblical truth expressed through the business and relationships.
 
Please pray for Peter and Charity as they advance the Gospel through this honey business. We ask God to spread His powerful Word among the nations and to transform lives. As Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
 
Navigator staff Jodi Hook provided the original reporting for this story.
 
David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 100 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of
Don’t Waste the Pain.

Advancing the Gospel Through Missional Enterprises

By Jack Benjamin

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I will never forget the moment 24-years ago when the Latin America Regional Director, for whom I have deep respect, made this stunning comment: “It is cruel to talk about the Great Commission in two-thirds of the world.”

“How could that be?” I thought to myself. “The Great Commission is the reason my wife and I just moved to Colombia with our three young children!”

That regional director was Aldo Berndt, a Brazilian. After his bold statement, he saw my distress. So with a gentle smile, Aldo went on to clarify. When fully funded gift-income missionaries launch a new work with the hope of reproducing and sending out laborers, those new laborers often don’t have the funding capacity or time to replicate what the missionary had modeled. The consequence is that future generations of laborers may become discouraged and end up giving the work of the ministry to the “full-time” workers.

“If we want to see nations reached for Christ,” Aldo went on to say, “we must offer the majority of people a different model, one that is more realistic and replicable in their context.”

My Navigator colleague, Jimmy Payton, understood what Aldo was saying. Jimmy had recently started a leather goods manufacturing and export business in Bogotá named Tenazcol. Employees, customers and suppliers—all those relating in some way with Tenazcol—saw that this business was different. They heard the Gospel message and saw it in action. Many were drawn to Christ and followed Him.

The daily opportunity for Jimmy to work side-by-side with his staff proved to be an ideal arrangement for life-on-life discipleship. Some of those employees were discipled well and have gone on to lead the next generation in Colombia.

A decade later, Jimmy and Roberto Blauth (from Brazil), who were serving in Aguascalientes, Mexico, began working on a home construction business called Casas Mas. As with Tenazcol, Casas Mas became a place where life-on-life discipleship and the Scriptures combined with God’s Spirit to make Jesus real to many.

It wasn’t long before a vibrant community of faith grew up in Aguascalientes and, energized by Casas Mas, contributed significantly to a new generation of laborers in Mexico. The word spread and a number of emerging laborers from around Latin America chose to intern at Casas Mas and serve in the Aguascalientes work as part of their ministry training. Today most of them are laboring fruitfully around the region.

In recent years, a group of Navigator alumni who are successful Mexican professionals, including a former Casas Mas general manager, have come together to launch a new generation of missional enterprises such as Tenazcol and Casas Mas. United by this passion, they provide mentoring, subject matter expertise, whole-life discipling and funding to aspiring missional entrepreneurs—people who can serve as Gospel pioneers in other nations.

The Navigators has been involved with missional enterprises for more than three decades. Each of the seven regions in the Worldwide Partnership has missional enterprise initiatives as part of their overall strategy to advance the Navigator Calling. Such enterprises help not only to gain access to closed or hard-to-reach places, but also to establish credibility with the local community in which they are operating.

Please continue praying that God would use these efforts to draw many to Him.
 
To watch a short video about missional enterprises in Latin America, follow this link: https://vimeo.com/65304675
 
Jack Benjamin is director of the Global Enterprise Network, a ministry of The Navigators. He served in Colombia, Chile and Brazil for more than 20 years. He and his wife, Karen, have three adult children and live in Colorado Springs.

 

Young Europeans Learn the Joy of Giving and Receiving

By Mike Treneer

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In early March, Chris and I had the privilege of joining more than one hundred European Navigator staff who work with college students in ten countries. Seeing firsthand the faith of these young men and women filled us with joy. We were impressed by how a new generation of leaders is practicing the spiritual disciplines that we had learned in the 1970s, including the partnership of giving and receiving. It was clear that, forty years later, Navigator DNA continues to resonate with a new generation!
 
One conversation in particular stands out to me. During one of the meal times, we sat with Jakar and Martine, a young staff couple from the Netherlands. They have taken a huge step of faith by leaving promising careers in order to dedicate full attention to help Dutch students come to the fullness of life in Christ. Jakar and Martine are right in the middle of the huge challenge of fundraising. We listened to them tell wonderful stories about how, with impeccable timing, God had provided housing and finances for them. This reminded us of our own early faith adventures during which God also provided for our needs in remarkable ways.
 
Partnership in giving and receiving is a spiritual discipline that is vital for the growth of the Gospel. Philippians 4:15 says, "Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the Gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only." The Greek word koinonia (often translated “fellowship”) is frequently used in the New Testament to describe this practical “sharing” of financial resources.
 
Jesus demonstrated this in His own ministry (see Luke 8:1-3). A group of women financially supported Him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Have you ever wondered why Jesus left us this example? He could have made His living as a carpenter, or He could have financed His ministry by helping Peter, Andrew, James, and John develop their fishing business as a missional enterprise. He also could have fed Himself and His disciples with miracle loaves and fishes. But instead He chose to model the vital spiritual discipline of sharing—a partnership in giving and receiving.
 
In our Navigator work around the world, we need a new generation of young men and women with the vision and commitment to partner in giving and receiving as Paul did with the Philippians. The spiritual discipline of giving generously from our financial resources is complemented by young men and women like Jakar and Martine who are willing to step out by faith and invest the finances they have received for the sake of the Gospel’s advance among the nations.
 
May each new generation of Navigators embrace this joyful partnership just as Jakar, Martine, and the friends who support them have experienced. You can be sure that those who do this will experience the living God who generously provides for all our needs.

Mike Treneer is International President of The Navigators. Mike and Chris lived in Kenya for 16 years where Mike helped develop our Africa ministries and became our Africa Director. Mike served on the International Executive Team and led our Europe work before becoming President in 2005.
 

Espresso Pioneers in Burundi

By IET Communications

Photo Courtesy Crew Dates

Photo Courtesy Crew Dates

For Ben and Kristy Carlson, the Gospel and coffee go hand-in-hand, but not necessarily during chats over mocha cappuccinos at Starbucks. For them, expressing their faith is about a high-risk, life-changing, beautiful adventure in post-war Burundi.

While serving with The Navigators in South Africa, Ben and Kristy saw a heartbreaking need in neglected and impoverished Burundi. Ben, a certified international coffee specialist, saw a way to combine his passion for coffee with the advancement of the Gospel. With hearts fixed on helping coffee farmers climb out of poverty and learn about Christ, Ben and Kristy (a talented photographer) moved to Burundi with their two young sons and started a coffee exporting business.

Why start a business? The Carlsons believed a coffee company could help them improve the socioeconomic and spiritual life of Burundians in an integrated way. The business would create jobs, increase wages for coffee farmers, help local communities, and open doors to relationships through which the Gospel could flow.

More than 800,000 Burundian families grow some of the best coffee in the world. But because local farmers often lack the official certifications needed to prove the high quality of their beans, they usually earn only half of what their coffee is worth on the international market.

Ben and Kristy’s business, The Long Miles Coffee Project, is helping to change that. Ben offers Burundian farmers the international quality certifications they need to get top dollar for their beans. He also helps coffee farmers improve farming techniques, provides standardized coffee tasting and pricing services, prepares the product for shipment, and connects Burundian coffee to international brokers. Despite harsh living conditions, political instability, and the demands of having small children, the Carlsons exported three times more coffee than they expected during their first year.

Business has become a natural platform for life-on-life investment in people. God has used the company to open numerous relational doors with farmers as well as influential people in government, universities, and commerce. Ben and Kristy are sharing their faith in personal ways within their relational sphere of influence.

The Bigger Picture: Missional Enterprises

The Carlsons’ approach to entering a country is just one example of how God is using small and medium business enterprises to reach the lost for Christ. Today, Navigators are resourcing and leading more than two hundred business enterprises around the world. Most of these enterprises are not started by foreigners like the Carlsons, but by people who are insiders to their own cultures.

Jack Benjamin, Director of the Global Enterprise Network of The Navigators, says that these businesses aim to achieve a “triple bottom line”: to be financially profitable and sustainable, to bring social improvements such as jobs and economic growth to the community, and to provide a natural context for outreach and generational discipleship.

While it’s certainly not the only way to reach people for Christ, missional enterprises do play a significant role in Navigator efforts. A growing number of countries are politically or culturally closed to traditional missionaries. And, in poorer countries, Christians often find it difficult to finance the pioneers and local leaders they need. The enterprise model is helping to overcome these obstacles. It’s been an effective approach in closed countries, among unreached people groups, and even among former criminals in urban America.

As Navigator partnering countries have launched increasing numbers of small businesses in recent decades, the need for leadership and collaboration has increased. The Global Enterprise Network is meeting that need as an extension of our Navigator Calling, Values, and Vision.

Pioneers like Ben and Kristy face tremendous business, spiritual, and personal struggles as they carry the Gospel to unreached peoples. They can’t do it alone. But with this international leadership and the support of The Navigators, the Carlsons have been able to spread the aroma of Christ in Burundi—right alongside the aroma of coffee.

To watch a video clip of the Carlsons’ coffee project in Burundi, go to this link.