A Soap BAM in Burundi, East Africa?

So I sat down for lunch today at a table with some folks I hadn’t met yet – there’s only about 50 at this conference, so I’m trying to get know them all a little. And this guy was talking about how he and a partner in Burundi, Africa, had just gotten funding from the Dutch government, to start a soap BAM (Business As Ministry) in Africa to employ locals, and address poverty in a God-honoring way. He goes on to say how he’s stymied though, because although he owns a successful business in the U.S. manufacturing cabinets, he knows nothing about soap at all – but thinks maybe laundry detergent might be a cost-effective place to start.

Well the guy randomly sitting next to him, goes next, and says that he’d just recently been exposed to a refugee camp, and since we’re talking about “Poverty: When Helping Hurts” today in our sessions, he talked about how he could see in these people’s eyes that they didn’t want to beg for help, that they were hard working people in the countries they’d escaped from, but now had no hope. And how God had really placed on his heart that he needs to use his business and technical skills to help heal the broken, and reach people for Christ… and by the way? The company he owns is in chemical manufacturing, with a specialty in… soaps!

Everyone here is a Bible-thumping Republican, with a southern drawl to match, but for all the faults of the religious right, one thing you can’t hold against them is that they really do love Jesus. And here are two good American capitalists, making good money in their Christ-directed professions, randomly stuck together at lunch time… with exactly complimentary skills and giftedness. They’re not looking for “social justice” – they’re just looking to obey God with the things He’s blessed them with. Social justice will come out of this, but it will be for His glory, not for humanity.

I ate lunch quietly and watched and with fascination as God worked in His magnificent way to use two of His people, and the gifts He’d given them, to bring grace and truth to the broken and needy.

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