Sunday, April 28, 2013

BAM Congress, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The view of Chiang Mai from my hotel room.
The Business as Mission (BAM) Congress just ended on Sunday afternoon.  Three days with 525 BAM people from 41 nations.  It was a great experience. The Congress was more theoretical as it relates to BAM - best practices, lessons learned, impacts and assessments, research, advocacy, and like topics.  While there were many BAM business persons in attendance, there were also many people like myself, facilitating the growth of the BAM movement.  Immediately following the close of the BAM Congress began phase two, the Call2Business Trade Fair which will go until Tuesday. The Trade Fair will be more practical with more BAM business persons involved, sharing the challenges of operating a BAM business, networking, industry specific gatherings, and the like.

I was very disappointed by the small number of Africans present at the conference.  Part of reason was a logistical problem - registration for the conference was done online with credit cards, and many African nations do not yet use credit cards as it is a cash society.  But there also needs to be much more exposure in Africa to the BAM movement.  Since Africa is projected to become an economic world power in the next twenty years (with an annual growth rate projected at 6%, compared to 1.8% in the US), then we need to be equipping these leaders with Business as Mission principles and values.

These little vehicles are everywhere, along with the bicycles and carts.
I was not able to discover any other persons who are doing the work that I am doing in terms of engaging Church leadership in order to build up and affirm the calling of business members.  People continue to complain about how churches marginalize business persons, treating their work as less holy or viewing successful business persons as corrupt or greedy, yet no-one else seems to be addressing this, other than the International Christian Ministries.  The co-chair of the BAM Congress told me that I was pioneering this movement and they are eager to hear how it will go.  I still have to believe that there are others out there doing and maybe we don't know of them yet.  It would be great to have some company on this to talk through strategies and best practices.

Because the the large number of people from closed countries, we were not allowed to take pictures at the event, in order to protect those persons.  So I don't have pictures of the conference, but did take some pictures in Chiang Mai.
 Roxanne DeGraaf (Partners Worldwide staff, friend and former colleague) and I toured the old city of Chiang Mai.  It is home to over 300 temples - seemingly every 100 feet or so.  
Pretty amazing buildings.
 The inside of one of the temples.

One of the fun things we did one evening was to have a fish massage.  Yes.  A fish massage.  You sit for 15 or 30 minutes with your feet in these pools and the fish nibble at your feet.  It is supposed to make your feet very smooth!  I am here with Kent, from Colorado, and Vey, from California, both conference attendees as well.
 This is not something for the extremely ticklish person.  It feels like hundreds of little shocks going through your feet...or like your feet are falling asleep.  A couple of little shrieks got out of me...but it really was pretty cool.  I think this would catch on in the US!
Two of my favorite men, Lou Haveman (from Grand Rapids) and Daniel Jean-Louis (from Haiti).  Love these guys!

Because of flight issues, I will be in Chiang Mai until Friday, at which time I will then return to Kenya, arriving back in Kitale on Sunday.  Please join with me in prayer for the message of Business as Mission to spread throughout Africa!