Monday, January 14, 2013

Jesus is the Unemployed – to be given a job

[I must be clear “out the gate” that this is a copy & paste re-post of a piece by Mats Tunehag, a Swedish friend who visited me here in Rwanda. Mats is a leading advocate of “Business as Mission” (BAM) Go to
I conclude with an experience of my own.] 
Jan 9th, 2013 by Mats Tunehag
There is a fascinating book* about Mother Teresa and her life journey. Most people know of her dedicated and commendable work among the least and the lowliest.
But fewer are aware of the intense struggle she suffered for years regarding the silence of God. She experienced immense pain when her bridegroom Jesus felt absent, far away and silent.
But she remained faithful to Him and saw and served Him in the people she met. She wrote the following, as an answer to “Who is Jesus to me?”. Excerpts:
Jesus is the Joy – to be shared
Jesus is the Peace – to be given
Jesus is the Hungry – to be fed
Jesus is the Thirsty – to be satiated
Jesus is the Naked – to be clothed
Jesus is the Homeless – to be taken
Jesus is the Sick – to be healed
Jesus is the Lonely – to be loved
Jesus is the Unwanted – to be wanted
Jesus is the Beggar – to be given a smile
Jesus is the Crippled – to walk with him
Jesus is the Drug Addict – to be befriend him
Jesus is the Prostitute – to remove from danger and befriend
Jesus is the Prisoner – to be visited
Jesus is the Old – to be served
This is of course in line with Jesus’ own words: What you have done to one of the least, lost and lowliest, you have done to me. (Matt. 25:35-40)
Most of the social ills and personal problems described by Mother Teresa above, and also listed in the Matthew 25 passage, are related to unemployment. People who have jobs are less likely to suffer hunger, thirst, homelessness, lack of medical care, et cetera.
As Christians in business we thus come alongside Mother Teresa, and countless others around the world, when we express our love for Jesus by starting and growing businesses.
We also respond to the question: Who is Jesus to me?
Jesus is the Unemployed – to be given a job
* Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta. Edited and with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk
Mats puts out a call, and a genuine response to that call (with the right heart and motives) can bring great joy. I know this from personal experience - certainly not because I possess a trace of Mother Teresa's piety, nor because I had any Biblical passage or doctrine so well thought out as does Mats. For me it was just dumb luck, a dumb secular term for "the grace of God."
When I fell so in love with the Village and decided that I really wanted to "do something good" for the people, I was only smart enough to know that I had best pause and think the matter through very carefully,... for the real objective is to "do good, without doing harm." Everyone in development work knows scores of stories about well-intentioned people who had a great idea, but ultimately discovered that the unintended consequences caused more harm than good. In fact, everyone who does development work, including me, is the subject (fool) of a few such stories.
So what could I give the people in the Village that would most greatly benefit them, without doing harm? What would build personal dignity and independence, rather than undermine them? Ultimately, the answer became obvious: jobs. And so I purchased land and we just started digging,... and hauling stones, and mixing concrete, and building walls and paths and ultimately buildings. These buildings are not, and never will be, the primary objective; building relationships, skills, and personal dignity are. Thus, when asked about the expected completion date of the project, my answer is "Never!" (for the task of developing relationships and skills and refining character - theirs and mine - will always be a work in progress).

I hesitate to share this for fear that it might be misconstrued as self-righteous or prideful. Again, I just stepped into it quite blindly, but what I experienced affirms what Mats advocates, and it has brought great joy to my workers and to me. So I highly commend it to you who might be interested in hiring Jesus.