How Katie Found Her Sweet Spot in Business for Transformation

By Andrew Shaughnessy on October 13, 2016

All too often, business professionals view themselves and their skills as useless in the missionary advancement of the kingdom of God.

Missionaries, after all, are preachers, right?

But the truth of the matter is that God uses all kinds of people and professions for His purposes—and those with business skills are currently among the most sought after.

Here’s why — by starting businesses, entrepreneurs can gain access to countries that are closed to the typical missionary.

As they build and operate that business they have countless opportunities to share the love of Christ with employees and customers. They model responsible and ethical leadership, and provide employment and help for the oppressed and marginalized of the world.

Here’s a story of one of Serge’s newest Business for Transformation missionaries….

Katie* always envisioned herself living overseas, she just never thought that it would be as a missionary.

“Early on, I was pretty resistant to missionary work,” Katie says. “I didn’t want to stand on a corner and hand out pamphlets. I was also prideful and adamant about not wanting to raise support.”

“After grad school I joined the Peace Corps and had my mind opened to a whole new world,” Katie says. “After spending two years in Lesotho I knew I was called to go back overseas to the developing world, I just didn’t know where or to do what. It took about seven years for God to hone and shape me to answer those questions and prepare me for where He has me today.”

After her initial time in Southern Africa, Katie spent the next seven years in the for-profit business sector, doing project management for two different companies. She grew and thrived professionally, and simultaneously became more and more involved with her local church’s mission work.

“Outside of my day job I was involved with a church that actively sends short-term teams around the world,” Katie says. “I was going on a trip almost every year, and after each trip I thought, ‘I have to get overseas.’ So I would come home and search for jobs with international NGOs—positions where I wouldn’t have to raise support or ‘stand on corners’.”

But over time, as Katie led more and more trips, she began to see the numerous ways in which individual missionaries around the world are able to use their different skill sets for gospel-centered and kingdom-directed goals.

“I discovered that being a missionary no longer means just cold turkey evangelism,” says Katie. “I was part of medical trips, art trips, English camps, outdoor adventure camps, business-building trips.”

“It was such a diverse set of activities and the workers that I met were equally diverse in their personalities and places in life. My notions of mission work were being challenged.”

Finally, Katie took a trip to South Asia, working in an outdoor adventure camp for young girls rescued from red light districts across the country.

Hearing the stories of girls rescued from lives in slavery and put on a path to healing in Jesus stirred something deep in her heart—and as her purpose began to solidify, Katie’s pride began to soften.

Within the year, spurred on by the urging of her mentors, Katie was considering long-term missionary service. And then she heard about the work being done at Serge’s Freedom Bakery in South Asia, which employs, trains, and disciples women trapped in the sex trade.

Katie says this is when she found the unique opportunity in which she could use her business experience and skill set in a mission context that spoke to her passion for justice and women’s empowerment.

So, in 2015, Katie signed on. After successfully support raising and tearful goodbyes, she left for five months of intensive language training in a neighboring South Asian country.

Finally, just a month ago, Katie made it to the Freedom Bakery where she has joined the team and is immersing herself in the café’s unique environment and culture.

“So much that I learned in the business world directly translates to work in this field,” Katie says. “Teamwork, customer service, logistics, problem solving, interpersonal skills, leadership.

“My experience as a project manager in the business sector working with both large and small companies gave me skills and insight into the workings of a small business that I can bring to the table at the Freedom Bakery.”

“I love people and building relationships, and I love that my job is doing that, but in the context of a freedom business.”

One other significant change is the women that Katie now connects with through her work—women who were once seemingly trapped as sex workers.

 “Even though I can’t fully relate to their world … I believe the women in this bakery are worth fighting for,” Katie says. “I want to show them their worth, their value in Christ and in this world and in this community and in this little café. They are all integral pieces.”

Despite her early misgivings, Katie found herself a fit and a purpose as a missionary with Serge not in spite of her business experience and career, but because of it.

 

 

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>> What’s your passion? How can God use your unique skills in mission work? Check out our current staffing needs in B4T to see if there’s a good fit.

Andrew Shaughnessy

About Andrew Shaughnessy

Andrew is a graduate of Covenant College and has served with Serge teams in Africa and South Asia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and English.