BAM vs COVID: Stories of Innovation and Our Unique Contribution
In part one of this post I introduced the idea that BAM can help defeat COVID if we have the right focus: Looking Up, Looking Back, Looking Around and Looking Ahead. In this second part, I’ll talk more about our posture and what that looks like in practice, i.e. telling some stories of innovation amidst the crisis.
Remember the agape love I mentioned before? How does a BAMer put agape into action through business? What should be their posture?
We could talk about agape again, or being a Christlike servant (Phil. 2:3-5), or depending utterly upon God, but those relate to all Christians in general and the question here relates to BAMers in particular — or more broadly, to Christian entrepreneurs. What is different about us?
When God looks at BAM practitioners, who are created in His image, what does He see that is, in many cases, different than in the lives of other believers? The answer relates to the fact that many BAMers are, by nature, entrepreneurial and/or innovative. They look around and see things that others don’t. Everyone can see the problem of COVID-19, but not all will see solutions. Everyone can all battle COVID-19 in a general way, but BAMers can do it very specifically.
That is the posture of a BAMer or Christian business leader: “I’m a problem solver. I’m made in God’s image to innovate and come up with solutions that don’t occur to other people.” Or, “I’m an entrepreneur. I see solutions that others may also see, but they are not willing to take the risk to make the solution a reality, and I am.”
In the past month, I’ve had contact with several outstanding Christian entrepreneurs with this kind of posture, putting agape into practice through business. I want to tell you about three of them, two of which I am closely associated with.
Practice: Stories of Business Leaders in Action
I’ll start with Mike Lindell and his US-based company called My Pillow. I don’t know Lindell personally, though I would describe My Pillow as a Kingdom-focused company. Lindell is outspoken about his Christian faith, and it seems to drive him with respect to how he runs his business. He’s an example of a Christian entrepreneur and business owner willing to jump into the COVID-19 battle immediately, and not without cost to his business: he recently shifted 75% of his manufacturing capacity to the production of medical masks, to the tune of 50,000 per day! He looked around, saw the need, trusted God, and jumped into the battle with the resources at his disposal. Why not take a minute to do the same thing? Look around. Perhaps God will show you how to get into the battle against COVID-19 with the resources you already have stewardship of.
Goodies Bakery, here in Brazil, is another great example of creativity in action in the BAM vs. COVID-19 battle. You read correctly, a bakery! The owners, two sisters, are creative, entrepreneurial risk-takers who love the Lord and have built up a business that is known for excellence in everything, from the aesthetics of their seven shops to the quality of their cupcakes. But like other similar businesses, they have suffered in the past six weeks.
In order to avoid a huge number of layoffs, they immediately did several things. First, they emphasized their pickup and delivery business. Second, they focused on things that people would most likely want/need during an economic downturn, e.g. savory dinner items. Third, they played to their strengths. For example, here in Brazil during Easter, it is common for supermarkets to sell huge chocolate Easter eggs. However, many people considered them to be superfluous, and sales dropped so much that most supermarkets returned all their eggs to the manufacturers well before Easter even arrived. The “Goodies girls” (as we affectionately call them) spotted an opportunity to keep their staff busy — and, in fact, to call up some temporary staff — by filling a void. Their artisanal chocolate Easter eggs are, happily, labor intensive, and the girls took a risk by marketing the eggs in the commercial vacuum, and the result was that rather than an expected 50% drop in sales, they had a 50% increase in sales. They took a risk, maintained some jobs, re-created additional jobs, and filled a commercial void, adding a touch of joy and sweetness to many lives, in the name of Christ, as a result.
If you are thinking, “Well, okay, but they’re just cupcakes”, then good! That means whatever you “just” do might be do-able in some creative new way… or you could do more of it, or a modified version of it, or… whatever! As a BAMer in the battle against COVID-19. Just look around… think on it… ask God for some insight. You might be surprised at what He shows you. As we say in Brazil, it’s probably not going to be a seven-headed monster!
I’ll finish with the example of LivFul, an international BAM business with a growing presence in Brazil. They are driven by an Isaiah 61 (and Luke 4) vision “to proclaim good news to the poor… to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, [and] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” One of the ways they do this is by producing world-class (and world-beating!) insect repellent. That alone is enough to save thousands, if not millions, of lives annually. But what about right now, in the midst of a global pandemic that is not related to mosquitos and other insects? LivFul immediately mobilized, by way of a joint venture with another BAM company, to offer PPEs (personal protective equipment) such as masks and rapid-testing kits to governments, hospitals and NGOs at special low prices. They willingly forsook some of their financial bottom line in favor of the social and spiritual bottom lines. They looked around, saw an opportunity in the midst of the need, and jumped into action.
Look up, look back, look around and look ahead. God will give you insights and focus, and when He does, put them into practice, with the posture of an agape-driven innovator and creator. In the battle of BAM vs. COVID, may God grant you favor and wisdom.
Dr. João Mordomo is co-founder and vice-chair of Crossover Global, a global church planting organization working among unreached peoples, as well as co-chair of BAM Global and co-Catalyst for BAM at the Lausanne Movement. João serves variously as owner, managing director and board member of several BAM companies, and teaches BAM and other courses as several universities.