I forgot to mention the names of the men on our team for this trip; they are Mike Scheffelin, a member of Grace Covenant Church, who is a professional videographer and computer software trainer, Warb Lee, CEO of Alen Corp., and Ivan Giraldo, President of Cleanscapes.  They have worked hard to encourage, inspire and teach the Congolese people that we have encountered.  Warb and Ivan are going to give you their observations from the first day of the business seminar on Saturday in this email.  Mike will do the same in a future email.

From Ivan:

It was very exciting and also surprising the mix of people that showed up to the seminar.   I saw confusion, lack of encouragement but at the same time I saw the desire to learn and listen to new things and ideas.  We had a good participation and involvement I thought. There is confusion on the involvement of the church and business man/women, and also on the type of business that people should do under God’s vision.  People don’t have leaders that keep them focused and encouraged to move forward in business as much as in God’s path.  At the same time, they are hungry to learn new ideas and find new resources to do and manage business.  On Monday we will be able to focus more on the business area.  I went to church this morning and it was very overwhelming to see how people took that time to enjoy peace from the very crazy life they face the rest of the week.  At the same time, they are looking for understanding of God’s word and their situation.

From Warb:

Many people wanted to learn about business. They wanted to learn how to start a successful business. They wanted to be successful so they can help take care of their families better. They wanted a better life. But they don’t know what questions to ask about business. To them, business was an end result but they don’t realize it is a process and requires work and dedication. They see business as a means to help them get out of poverty. However, they have huge misconceptions of business and think that they can learn in a short time.

They claim that there is no way to have a successful business without being dishonest, cheating, and avoiding government rules and regulations. They see other Christian businessmen do this and assume that this is the way to conduct business. There are conflicts between the church and the businessmen. There are conflicts in time, priorities, money, power, control, influence – sounds familiar. They assess they can only do one and not both. If you want to be successful in business then you don’t have time and priority to also be a Christian.

Their biblical philosophies are rudimentary. They have lots of rules which were pretty much given down from the pastors. They speak about giving money back to the church. They speak about that they must give 10% so God can bless them. I fear their understanding is tainted and not scriptural.  Because the business people become wealthier, they feel they can influence the church with their money and assess the church leaders should listen to them.

As I mentioned last night, the women appear more biblically strong compared to the men. The women speak about the lack of leadership and I observe it is aimed at the men. This appears to be a cultural issue and is hard to change and requires many years of change.

It almost seems like they need an apprentice program. They can learn the best practices from Christian business leaders under their leadership and guidance. After a few years, they go off on their own and replicate the model. This is too hard to try to do it on their own. The young businessmen and women learn from seasoned veterans. The veterans get good reliable and trustworthy workers.