Partnerships In Business Missions
The following article appeared in Truth Magazine
Written by Dr. Tom ThorburnFor several years Dave Velting, a former Grace Ministries International (GMI) missionary and currently a GMI board member, plus Mike Caraway, a GMI missionary in Tanzania, have been concerned with the development of sustainable financial support of national churches from national resources. To that end they have wondered about the following:
Would mentoring or training businessmen and women be a legitimate focus for missionaries in other countries?
The validity of these questions is based on the reality that for decades Americans have given generously to establish churches and Bible institutions in Africa, and to a lesser degree to mitigate poverty. The latter has not solved the issue, but instead has created a culture of dependency. By teaching local entrepreneurs how to develop their own communities by running healthy Christ-centered businesses, business as a mission would be a viable approach for bringing people in developing countries to Christ, and would not only raise their standard of living but make it possible for Christian nationals to better support their churches.
On a recent trip to Tanzania, several US Christian businesspeople met with small business owners in the cities of Sumbawanga and Mbeya in Southwestern Tanzania. This first trip was generally for discussing their interests in establishing relationships between themselves and the Tanzania businesspeople, participating in business training, and partnering with several organizations that provide various types of technical, capital and training assistance.
The trip was hosted by Mike and Lynn Caraway, missionaries in Tanzania serving under the direction of GMI. The group traveling with Mike and Lynn consisted of Dave Velting, a retired construction businessman and GMI Board member; Ken Wieringa, a businessman in the commercial sound business; Matthew DeYoung, a businessman in the commercial paint supply business; Nana Yaa Dodi, staff member of Partners Worldwide (PW); and Tom Thorburn, retired rural development specialist and ECHO Board member (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization), also a former grant maker for two foundations. The group was encouraged to pursue general plans being developed domestically by the partnering organizations (GMI and PW) and more recently ECHO and Grace Community Development and Education (GCDE), a nonprofit founded in Tanzania by Mike Caraway and several local Christian businessmen in Sumbawanga.
The stated purposes for the trip:
In conclusion, the NAA is excited about working with the Tanzanian businesspeople initially in training programs and mentoring. Their desire is to continue developing partnerships with the several organizations previously mentioned. Eventually, there will be opportunities to establish a micro-loan program if there isn’t another organization available to meet the needs. They plan to move forward slowly and deliberately with the plans established during their initial trip and to return to Tanzania sometime in 2010 to continue building relationships and view the training taking place with the
While working with the Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Tom
Thorburn made several trips to Southern Africa
coordinating grant projects given by the foundation.
He and his wife Jeanne are members of Rush Creek
Bible Church in Byron Center, MI