Meet THE Business Game-Changer in Haiti

Savings Group—Meemos

Meemoos is a remarkable young woman, full of joy and creativity. She lives in Haiti, approximately two and a half hours southwest of Port-Au-Prince, and owns a Coca-Cola business. (Think classic, tall glass bottles in short wooden crates. ‘Thirsty yet?) Coke sales are common at roadside provision stands in Haiti, but Meemoos’ business is extra-unique. Hers is actually a small warehouse that serves as a wholesale distributorship, resourcing many of those roadside businesses.

Our team encountered Meemoos in a schoolyard in Cadiac. Each morning, she teaches a room full of grade school students. (Perhaps you are sensing—she is extremely energetic and hardworking.) As we interacted, we learned the game-changing key to the start of her Coca-Cola business. Yes, she gained funds through her teaching job, but normally, those resources would be ravenously gobbled up by the hungry Haitian economy. (78% of the population lives on less than $2 per day; there’s a 41% unemployment rate.) Meemoos told us that several years ago, she joined a savings group at her local church. That experience has been revolutionary.

Savings groups are a brilliant missional method of gathering people, both already-church-attenders and people from the community who do not yet know Christ. Groups are composed of 20-25 people who come together for Christ-centered teaching, with a focus on the gracious good news of discipleship, including biblical principles of finance. Each group meeting includes worship, teaching from God’s Word, and the actual WORK of the group as they save together. Such saving helps resource members with eventual loans that might be used for their children’s schooling, a motorcycle to ride to work, or supplies to build a house. For many individuals, the savings group can be THE game-changer in their ability to start their own business.

H3 hopehelphaiti pic

Along the way, such savings groups and business creation serve as a remarkable component in God’s mission. This is what Michael R. Baer dubs kingdom business. Baer clarifies: “In other words, it is directly involved in making disciples of all nations—beginning at home but with international involvement too. . . . To be a kingdom business there must be intentional connection to God’s eternal purposes in the world, a connection that will ultimately lead in some way to involvement in world missions.”[1]

Our church, Manor Church in Lancaster, PA, has the immense privilege of launching a brand new partnership with HOPE International in Haiti. Across 2015 through 2017, it is our prayerful aim that we might learn, grow, give, and ultimately partner in greater ways with God’s work in Haiti. For more info on the H3 adventure, a link to Sunday’s H3 message, and details on how you can engage, check out www.manorchurch.org.

One more amazing thing about Meemoos. Not only does she teach school and lead her Coca-Cola business. She is now the president of her local savings group, which meets weekly at her school. She is living out the core of her discipleship (Mark 1:14-20), focused on Jesus’ “fishing business,” and blessing more people. Meemoos personally experienced Christ’s hope, and now she’s expressing that hope to others.

Will you go buy a Coke today, pray deeply for Meemoos’ work, and also pray: “Lord, stretch me and use me, for your glory!”?

Coke bottle

[1]Michael R. Baer. Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God. (Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2006), 14.

Baseball, Business and Best Practices

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I was throwing in the backyard with my eight-year-old one evening this spring, and I had a flash of insight. I’m playing the best baseball of my life. I’m on fire! OK, perhaps “on fire” is a slight exaggeration, but I realized that I’m seriously playing my strongest ball ever. And this is ironic, considering I am in my mid-40s. To what should I attribute this sudden surge in skill? What gives?

One word sums it up, plain and simple: Practice.

This is now my third season helping coach Josiah’s spring-summer team. Our record is 7 and 2. We are having fun, winning games, and deliberately putting in the serious practice time on the fundamentals. The team’s head coach, Chris, drills us in two-hour practices on Saturday mornings. We all groan, but deep down, we are discovering it is actually good for us. Even when it’s not an official practice, Jos’ and I are often throwing in the backyard, plus reviewing more complex skills. I suppose it should not surprise me that my own sense of advancement is increasing.

Here is a poignant reminder that we can sense similar advancements in our faith-at-work progress as we engage in implementation of intentional, deliberate best practices. For serious standout excellence, consistent repetition is key. Malcolm Gladwell champions this principle in his hallmark book Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown and Company 2008). The concept rings true in musical performance, public speaking, sports, painting, programing, and virtually every pursuit of human flourishing. So of course, the impact of practice applies in big ways for business. Passionate commitment to regular, repetitious practice will hone leaders and their workplaces, bringing God greater glory. The Apostle Paul urges us, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord . . .” (Colossians 3:23).

Michael Baer insists: “It matters how we operate our business. We are called to operate it with excellence, to use the best practices to create a great company . . . there is no Christian excuse for sloppy business habits.”[1] Such operational practices must involve thoughtful planning, an establishment of values, vision, and goals, the comprehensive design of strategic plans, and the intentional assembly of the business team.

What will you do personally this summer to pursue intentional, God-honoring practices at work? Consider revisiting your business’s core values and asking, “How are we actually acting on these?” Lead your team in a review of your primary tasks and query, “How can we serve our clients with even greater effectiveness?” Perhaps you should block out an hour alone, just to practice some fresh dreaming—pursue some God-like creativity!

James Davison Hunter winsomely declares, “In short, fidelity to the highest practices of vocation before God is consecrated and in itself transformational in its effects.”

So how are you, your team, and entire workplace being transformed through best practices? With some fresh commitment and intentionality, you can find yourself saying, I’m playing the best business of my life. I’m on fire—to the glory of God!

 

 

[1]Baer, Michael R. Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 2006, page 21.