I just looked out my office window on this sunny day in mid-July. Our little town of 2,000 residents is swarming with about 10,000 tourists who have come to the largest outdoor quilt show in North America. It is amazing! Thousands of people; overweight dogs on leashes; women with gigantic handbags; a restored 1931 Model A displaying artistic wares; old men being towed around by their wives looking at the intricacies of massive quilts; people licking $5 ice cream cones; men drinking $8 coffee drinks; and streets blocked for the swarm of people while the bluegrass band played Night Train to Memphis. Most of the people are at least nominal “Jesus followers”.
But as I walked around, my mind went to a trip several of us made to western India not long ago, with similarly impressive fabrics created by their masters like they have been doing for centuries. But with no dogs and only scrawny cows; women with no handbags and few possessions; no old restored cars – in fact no cars at all; no ice cream and no expensive coffees; and for sure no country, western and blues bands. Just poverty! Most of the people were followers of the prophet Mohammed!
We were part of a tour put on by a Business as Mission company operating as a for-profit business and a kingdom opportunity. Their company was created with a Triple Bottom Line in mind – a profitable business helping a community; the creation of jobs; and helping people see who Jesus is.
The contrast between the two scenes could not be starker. In fact it is tear jerking! I hurt inside. Before me today I see overfed and overpaid Americans driving into town in myriads of Class A motor homes paying $10 or more for a small helping of pulled pork while they look at world class art fabrics. While the artisans of a half a world away ply their craft with few viewers and with one meal a day – if they are that fortunate. They walk for miles for the basics of life such as water; live and die and few people know about them or even care.
How can these things be?
The question is rhetorical – there is no answer or there is a myriad of answers. But I get up each morning determined to be more a part of the solution than part of the problem – a solution that brings development to a few of the billions of the world who barely survive – and a gospel that gives them hope.
Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures