Commercial and bureaucratic hindrances collided with an uncontrollable reality: the faith of many players.
About 300 participants took part in the first FOJEC conference. A biblical view of business as well as study cases were shared with a generation eager to make a lasting impact in society.
How can Christians in Togo have an impact beyond their churches? Training in a biblical worldview can have a lasting impact, not only in their businesses, but also in the whole society, believes M’gliwe Simdinatome.
In Togo, “about 40% of the population claim that they are Christians”, says M’gliwe Simdinatome, a pastor and youth leader. “We believe that if they live their faith at the workplace and impact lives, it will be a huge opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God in Togo.”
Simdinatome shared this missional mindset with other people from across the world in Indonesia in August 2016, where he joined more than 1,000 other Christians at the Lausanne Movement Younger Leaders Gathering.
“I got this vision there, during the YLG in Jakarta. We were discussing about how the local church can have real impact in our community”, Simdinatome explains. “When I think about my community, I see how poverty is destroying people and communities.”
“AGENTS OF TRANSFORMATION”
During a group discussion called “kingdom entrepreneurs”, something clicked. “I suddenly got a clear picture of entrepreneurship that can help Christians to be agents of transformation in the community by providing godly businesses and jobs.”
In April of the following year, the idea had led to the first edition of a forum for young Christian entrepreneurs: FOJEC. The theme, was “The biblical mandate for entrepreneurship and business development.”
It was a joint effort, Simdinatome explains, because it involved churches, student groups like GBU Togo (IFES), government organisations, and other ministries such as Lumiere à la Cite.
About 300 participants from all regions of the country joined the training. It was a very encounraging start, because “in our community, many Christian think wrongly that business world is for worldly people” says M’Gliwe.
“The topic helped them discover the will of God in business biblical models and entrepreneurs.”
The plenary session worked deepened on what it means to develop businesses following a biblical worldview, and other more concrete themes were discussed in workshops in the evening.
“Among these subtopics we had: how to start a business, how to strengthen your business, developing a strategic business plan…”
Christian entrepreneurs from the country shared their vision and “inspired the youth”.
Stanley Tan, a business owner from Singapore, also joined to share from his experience.
THE POWER OF GIVING
What did the students learn? “One of the best illustrations was the power of giving”, highlights Simdinatome. Stanley Tan shared his personal story. “As God gave his only Son Jesus to successfully restore his purpose for the salvation of mankind, the same way we can experience success if we firstly decide to give in our businesses”.
Building a Christian business is not about “just trying to accumulate, but looking for the ways to meet the needs of people in the community through the businesses.”
PRAYING FOR TOGO
What can people pray for? Simdinatome suggests these themes:
“Pray that God will increase the influence of FOJEC in the coming years. We have a three years’ vision which consist of training about 5,000 entrepreneurs by 2020, helping to create 3,000 Jobs and finance the capital of 1,000 entrepreneurs”.
Ther are also financial needs: “We are launching an Incubator for Christian entrepreneurs (The Nehemiah Centre for Entrepreneurship)” in three months, as result of the first FOJEC. In addition, “we are looking for foundations that can help us finance one thousand entrepreneurs with a minimum of 1,000 US Dollars in three years.”
Young enterpreneurs in Togo can make an impact on the whole society, so “please pray for God's favour on our vision”, Simdinatome concludes.
ABOUT M’GLIWE SIMDINATOME
M’gliwe Simdinatome lives in Lomé, Togo. He is pastor of Total Ministry of Christ Community Church. I also serves as the Regional Director of J-Life Africa in Francophone West Africa.