I just spent a week with several business owners and humanitarian workers who work in a high risk country. 1 I marveled at their commitment, perseverance, competence and productivity in their chosen calling. Many were business people while others university professors and medical professionals.
1. Pray and Trust. One veterinarian stated it this way. “We are on our knees a lot.” Their entire team of expats have a meal and pray together daily. Team life is protected and each member is challenged to grow as a person and in relationship to others, while totally depending on God for unity, wisdom and protection.
2. Learn and Love. A business owner with 22 employees stressed how important it is to love the people around you, always listening and caring while displaying attitudes of love for the people. This must be a natural part of life, not just something which you have to work hard to accomplish. Many stated repeatedly that “the citizens are always watching us…they see how we forgive and how we love.”
3. Respect and Honor. It is crucial to respect local customs, regulations and cultural icons. One transportation company vice president said, “it is important to pay attention to the Great Leader of the country.” National symbols such as statutes or prayer traditions must be accepted and respected. In short – follow the rules!
4. Bless the Nation and Create Value. It is important to meet real needs that are tangible and visible and easily identifiable. Veterinarians heal animals; businesses create jobs, physicians and physical therapists treat real people; chemistry professors create value for students; coaches for national sport teams seek to bring honor to the country; researchers produce reports useful for development progress. Just as God asked Abraham in ancient times to bless others, so too our goal is to bless the nation and its peoples.
5. Have Vision and End Goals. Everyone I recently met, and most others over the years have a clear understanding of why they are there. D has a vision for clean water for every family in his province; A wants everyone with autism to have access to treatment; J manufactures soy oil for sale to relief agencies feeding the starving; M wants to create a dozen more jobs; C operates a tour company and wants one hundred more tourists this year who can demonstrate that America is not bad and how a Jesus-follower lives.
1. A high risk country is one which considered to be a top tier country on scales such as Transparency International (www.doingbusiness.org/rankings); and Joshua Project (www.joshuaproject.net); Corruption Watch (www.corruptionwatch.org.za/report/corruption). They are highly corrupt; usually anti-West; lack basic infrastructure amenities such as electricity, internet, clean water; and they make it difficult for Christians.
Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures