For our readers in the US, this coming weekend is the celebration of Memorial Day, the traditional marker for the beginning of the summer. It is a time to remember and memorialize those who have gone before us, especially those who have given their lives in service.
In a similar vein, we feature this week people from the last three centuries who have served God in the overlap of business leadership and the Great Commission. In contrast to the clergy/laity division of their times, these pioneers were early forerunners of the modern missional enterprise movement. We encourage you to read over the short descriptions below and chose at least one to explore further.
The Moravian Missionaries
In the early 1700s, members of the Moravian Church fleeing persecution were provided refuge by the German Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf on his large estate. A revival that broke out among them in 1737 led to a movement of fervent prayer and missions mobilization, especially to difficult places and marginalized peoples. Rather than professional clergy, the missionaries sent from among the Moravian fellowship were common people who practiced their own trades on the field. Author Mark Russell noted that Zinzendorf “would send them out in pairs, and they would earn an income as they traveled. The goal was not to save money for the sending church but to teach the people the dignity of labor.”1
To read more about Count Zinzendorf and the Moravian Missions Movements, check out one of the following:
- “4 Lessons To Learn From Count Nicolaus Von Zinzendorf And The Moravian Mission” (about five minutes to read) – highlights the distinctive features of this early modern missionary movement.
- “The Rich Young Ruler . . . Who Said Yes!” (about 20 minutes to read) – a thorough, inspiring introduction to Count Zinzendorf’s remarkable life.
In response to rampant alcoholism in Ireland during the “gin craze” of the mid-1700s, Arthur Guinness developed a stout beer with low alcohol content and high iron content, which made people feel more full when drinking less. He also instilled Christian values in his company culture, including the way employees were treated. Arthur Guinness left a generational impact through the influence of his descendants, who went on to bless the world as evangelists, philanthropists, and public servants.
Read more in:
- “God and Guinness?” (about five minutes to read) – a wonderful summary of Guinness’s life and work from IBEC Ventures.
Often called the “father of the modern missions movement,” William Carey moved to India from England in the late 1700s, convinced that the Great Commission is a binding command for every generation. He initially worked as a manager in an indigo factory to support his mission work. By the end of his life, in addition to his evangelism and translation work, Carey had contributed to the transformation of society in areas including botany, economics, industrialization, education, health care, media, agriculture, and astronomy. 2
There are several excellent book-length biographies of William Carey, as well as many of his own original writings. However, you can get a short overview of his life and work here:
- “Missionaries You Should Know: William Carey” (about five minutes to read) – from the International Mission Board.
Verse(s) of the Week:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . . Hebrews 12:1
The people of faith described in Hebrews chapter 11 are called “a cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. Let’s be mindful of the people of faith who have gone before us, and ask God to use their examples to inspire us to run with endurance.
1 Russell, Mark L. The Missional Entrepreneur: Principles and Practices for Business as Mission. New Hope Publishers.