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Friday, 4 November 2011

Missionary Discipleship in Business

Here's another sneak preview of one of the stories for the WEBA Baptist Times Supplement. A bundle of papers will arrive for your church during the last week of November. Make sure you get yours!

On a freezing February evening about fifteen years ago Jeremy Nottingham watched people in business suits react to a young girl in a thin t-shirt who was begging on one of the platforms at St. Pancras’ Station in London. They either ignored her, moved away before she got near them, or got their phones out to avoid her requests.

Eventually she reached a casually dressed young man who had bought a cup of coffee and a baguette for his journey. Jeremy watched as the young man handed them to her, and she walked away.

Over the following weeks Jeremy couldn’t forget this picture. “I was convinced that God was saying there needed to be a closer connection between business and a world in need”, he says. Most of his evenings were spent in church activity – in an environment where 99% of people were Christians:
“I began to think that my primary ministry should be my work life, where the situation was reversed.”

Jeremy teamed up with three others who were keen to set up businesses that would enable them to share their faith. In 2003 Jeremy, his wife Pat and a couple of colleagues set up Add Momentum, a Bristol company which mainly provided financial services. The business was built around a strategic relationship with the charity Hope HIV www.hopehiv.co.ukwhich funds a variety of projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. The charity was presented as a key partner on the company website and as part of the induction process for new recruits, and representatives of the charity were invited to speak at company days away. In addition to giving from profits to Hope HIV, there were fundraising activities and team challenges which gave employees opportunities to develop teamwork and reveal new skills.

This model, while being a response to a world in need, also motivated questions (why are you doing it?) and therefore provided an opportunity to share faith and God’s love with customers, colleagues, and others in the business community. Add Momentum became a victim of the credit crunch in 2010, but Jeremy has gone on to work as a Business Mentor (www.thementorpreneur.co.uk)and also an ambassador for Hope HIV, talking to businesses about the advantages of getting involved in similar partnerships.

Jeremy’s wife Pat runs her own business in Stroud, Curtains Made For You. Go to her website, www.curtainsmadeforyou.co.uk and you can see the way information about the business and its partner charity – in this case, a school for Aids orphans with speech and hearing difficulties – work together, providing hope for those rejected by society, and, potentially, the opportunity to explain the hope we have in us, which is for all the world.

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