This story speaks to some of our favorite themes – the powerful influence of relationships formed in the marketplace, the value of personal and business integrity, and the importance of expert services. At MDE, we consider it a privilege to serve member-clients like Allan*.
My training was in church and nonprofit business, but when I reached North Africa, starting a church was out of the question. So for-profit business became the natural way to impact the community. This had not been my plan, but the more I became involved in business, the more I realized my previous church-based objectives of spreading the gospel and strengthening disciples were still appropriate in the business context.
Actually, I had more time to disciple people, not less. As a pastor, you have one meeting a week to impact your congregation. But as a business owner, I had an impact on my employees all day, every day. I felt like I had stumbled upon a secret. Why were other Christians not talking about this incredible potential? Through business, you can witness and make disciples even in a closed community.
At one point, I transitioned from one legal entity to another and had to close out all the employee contracts. This was before I had access to MDE’s legal services, and I had done many of those employee contracts incorrectly; they were open-ended, and I needed to finalize them. But our employees had spread all over the country looking for other work, so I asked them to return to receive the severance pay they were due by law.
Our employees knew we were committed to following the law, and this decision did not seem strange to me—even though it cost us more money. My Muslim manager did not understand. He said, “This joker is calling people from all over the country and asking them to come back so he can pay them!” My actions were counter-cultural because business owners always look for creative ways to keep money in their pockets.
These moments of dissonance in business practice reveal the One we follow. At times like these, there are opportunities to speak about Jesus. We may say nothing initially but, by simply caring for our employees and living with integrity, we are “salt and light,” The community will want to know what makes us different.
* Name changed for privacy.