“I am a Christian Business Owner. I want to serve the Lord through my business. How do I start? And how do I find a community where I can collaborate with other like-minded brethren?”
That was probably the unspoken question that went through our minds - the 200 Christian business owners who attended the Business as Mission (BAM) Philippines’ first Cebu Face-to-Face Fellowship last May 6 at the Seda Ayala Center Cebu.
Long after the event ended by 2 p.m., many of us lingered and, more important, interacted with the speakers, panelists, and each other. For hours, since the 9 a.m. start, all of us had listened intently to all the presentations, testimonies, and panel discussions that were happening on stage. Then, as the event wrapped up, many of us wanted to do something about what we had learned: use our businesses as a platform for God to spread His Word and win more souls for His Kingdom.
Success, though, in any venture is not achieved alone. We knew we needed the support of and ongoing interaction with fellow Christian Business Owners who have the same passion, zeal, and vision to dedicate our companies to God. We also recognized that we faced the same challenges in business and could offer each other guidance and possible solutions. We believe we have found it in BAM Philippines who was generous in sharing their learnings and wisdom, which were all aligned with the Scripture.
The BAM Philippines’ first Cebu Face-to-Face Fellowship was led by Cebu-based BAM Core Members who gave us all a warm welcome. Other Core Members flew in from Manila, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Iloilo, and even other countries like Singapore. The event truly broke international barriers and became a platform to fuse our hearts into one.
We could see this interplay even among the ones guiding the proceedings on stage. BAM Core Member Rachel Tan, who was from Manila, was the main host. Cebuana Christian sisters like Angeli Si and Katharine Dacay introduced the Cebu-based speakers whom they have known a long time, and whose spiritual journeys they sometimes shared.
Stewardship of God’s business
After the inspiring praise and worship session, Pastor Collen Lo, the BAM Philippines Shepherding Pastor, again did the opening prayer as he did in BAM Philippines’ Davao Face-to-Face Fellowship last March. Afterward, during his short exhortation, Ps. Collen emphasized our roles as Christian Business Owners in building God’s kingdom here on earth, as well as our responsibilities for being His stewards. His talk really made us reflect on the way we conduct our businesses and how we deal with our employees and customers.
Also inspiring was the first speaker, Matthew Kok, the Chairman of Business as Mission (BAM) Thrust CEFC, Singapore. He first said that business is our God-given platform for the testimony of our faith and the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. As such, he added that this means, “As God’s stewards, our chief aim should be to align our business to our Master’s purpose of redemption and new life.”
Next, he showed us how a redeemed business can become an instrument of evangelization outside our own corporate walls. Matthew pointed out that, while some governments prevent Christian missionaries from entering their borders, “Legitimate business is welcome anytime, anywhere, everywhere, even in closed countries.”
Our next speaker, Lorainne Limchesing, gave her testimony as a Christian Business Owner and revealed how God moves in her life as well as her family’s. She is the Managing Director of the family-owned Williams Group of Companies which has established itself for decades, starting with her father-in-law. To those of us who have run family businesses or who are bringing in siblings and grown children slowly into our companies, her sharing was really helpful and edifying.
“Those who honor Me, I will honor.”
1 Samuel 2:30
Among the most important lessons she shared, this principle was probably the one that really sank deep into our hearts. As business owners, it is natural for us to want to grow the business and succeed. Sis. Lorainne reminded us that, “In order to prosper, we have to stop thinking of money as belonging to us. We need to quit seeing ourselves as the source of our prosperity and recognize that ALL blessings and ALL riches come from God.”
It is a principle that Lorainne has passed on to her three sons who are helping out in their family business. Another Biblical verse that she encouraged all of us to remember and apply is from 1 Samuel 2:30, where the Lord says, “Those who honor Me, I will honor.”
During these two discussions, a lot of us wanted to ask questions but could not because we might disrupt the flow of the sharing. We did have our chance in the panel discussion which tackled the intricacies and challenges of running a family business, and how the Christians in the company can apply Biblical principles to its operations while inviting their non-Christian family and relatives into the faith.
Matthew and Lorainne were the centerpiece of the panel. Other fellow believers and business owners who joined were Tristan Joseph “TJ” Limchesing, Lorainne’s 27-year-old son who is currently the Operations Manager of Williams Commercial Company Inc.; Pastor Nigel Ong, a tent-making pastor to the youth of his local church in Cebu; David and Emily Villanueva, who are involved in the Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry; and Amen Say, a Christian Business Owner in the Distribution Industry and a Business as Mission Practitioner.
Moderating the panel discussions were Pastor Steven Tumbaga, who is a youth pastor at his local church in Cebu City; and Lucy Gwee, who leads the Business as Mission Young Entrepreneur Group as part of the BAM Singapore Core team in her local church.
He did confirm that Christian Business Owners can grow together as a community. He cited Hebrews 10:25:
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
What did set our hearts on fire was his description of BAM Fellowships. They hold monthly fellowship meetings to build a missional community. Learnings are done through business issues and case studies guided by Blblical principles. A BAM business also has the possibility to venture towards discipleship and church-planting.
James’ talk was really an eye-opener. He showed us what we could do as Christian Business Owners right in our own companies to spread the work of God in and through the business landscape.
Another blessing was the short exhortation by Richard and Cathy Tan, who are Christian Business Owners in the Distribution Industry.
Their own lives and testimonies themselves are blessings. They are living out BAM principles in their own company and have become effective Christian witnesses to their own staff, many of whom now worship the Lord. Richard and Cathy are also the parents of our wonderful host, Rachel.
Richard and Cathy were on stage to give their plaques of gratitude for our two speakers---Matthew and Lorainne ---as well as for Amen, our panelist who was a main speaker in the BAM Davao Face-to-Face Fellowship.
The event was nearing its end when we realized that the best was still to come. The Tan family encouraged all of us to join BAM’s First Asia Conference which will be happening on Oct. 20-21 at the Fort Manila, Bonifacio Global City. As they described it, what we had learned and been blessed with in the Cebu face to face Fellowship was just a tip of the iceberg.
We could feel the excitement in the air. We do want to serve the Lord through our business and we want to know more. The testimonies and lessons we had heard so far have encouraged and motivated us to join this spiritual journey. It is also gratifying to know that we are not and will never be alone. The Lord is with us---and so is a growing community of fellow Christian Business Owners who want to spread His message of love to the world.
As Matthew put it, “The BAM Movement is defined as groups of business people, faithfully and intentionally, in their ordinary course of business, testify their faith and lead the lost to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour---beginning in Cebu, Davao, Manila, then the rest of the nation, and to the rest of world. Together we influence business and impact the nations.”
There will be MORE learnings and teachings as the BAM’s First Asia Conference draws near this October at Shangri-La, The Fort, Manila. If you want to know more about the First Asia Conference, click here.