ASI Europe was starting a new country chapter—ASI Bulgaria. The group of big-hearted, Jesus-loving, Adventist Bulgarians were excited about this historic moment. As independent businessmen, they could begin doing something for the church they loved and the movement of truth in a more direct and organized way.
My wife and I were invited to be the keynote speaker and special vocalist for the ASI Europe event. We were hopeful, nervous and excited. We were welcomed by the head elder of the church and his vivacious wife who, together, had organized the soon-to-be-established ASI Bulgaria. The elder operates a luxury wood flooring company with branches in Italy, England and other countries. They install floors in banquet halls, castles and mansions throughout Europe. The array of patterns and designs they showed me was stunning.
This elder and his wife treated us so warmly and fed us so well, and the group of Adventist friends they introduced us to were so sincere in their desire for outreach that we left with a forever love for Bulgaria, its forests, its salads, its cheesy potato casserole, and most of all its Adventist business people.
My visit to Bulgaria reminded me yet again that business people who are active in the church are awesome. They get things done with entrepreneurial energy. They have an internal drum that beats faster than others. They experience time differently. Time is money for them; and for select Adventist businessmen who have crossed the Kingdom threshold, that same savvy and drive is translated into “time is souls.” Watch out! These people are unstoppable.
That is one of the reasons I am so optimistic about tentmaking. Tentmaking is connecting professionals with mission in the work they are most passionate about. Because they pursue their passion in an unreached area, their leadership gifts also naturally flow into the formation of home Bible studies and church life. Tentmakers are high-capacity people who dream of being useful for Christ, like Violet, an Adventist business woman I met in Romania. In the midst of my international travels, I was swept up by her tsunami of energy and activity as she organized—I mean really organized—an evangelistic effort in Romania around me. Though busy and successful in her work, she poured all she had into reaching souls for her Lord.
The back story of that Romanian evangelistic effort is too long to tell here, but for God’s glory I feel I must share the miracle that set it in motion. After an exhilarating Sabbath, I was preaching my last of five sermons. It was on Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones. The Spirit’s wind caught my sails, and I was vividly describing the power of God reviving those bones when I noticed my hostess, Violet, weeping in the front row.
When the sermon finally ended and everyone else had gone, Violet said to me, “Barnabas, the night you arrived in my home, God gave me a dream, and I didn’t know what it meant. I saw myself walking in a valley of rocks. As I sat on one rock, it let out a groan. I looked, and to my astonishment I saw it wasn’t a rock at all, but a petrified person. The whole valley was filled with petrified people. Just then in my dream I saw you standing in a river with your Bible open. Then you and I were lifted up over the valley. You began to preach, and the petrified people came to life. Then you and I led the people like an army out of the valley. After tonight’s sermon, I now understand my dream. I must organize an evangelistic event. You will speak.” Organizing was this business leader’s gift, and preaching was mine. God was honored through our synergy.
Since then, I have often thought about the diversity of people’s gifts. We talk about the “priesthood of all believers,” but the church often seems too timid to carry that to its conclusion. Too rarely are Adventist experts in secular fields brought in to consult or lead churches. However, when pros do get put in charge . . . wow! The results astound. One case in point are the free city-wide Adventist health clinics in Spokane, San Antonio and elsewhere.
Often the church as an organization does not position itself in a way that enables everyone to do what they do best. Often members do what they do best on Monday through Friday and then blend into someone else’s dream and plans on Sabbath.
Here is the explosive power of GoTential through tentmaking—putting people who are wildly gifted into places that can absorb an immense amount of creative energy and then freeing them to do what their Spirit-fueled imagination, tenacity and will can accomplish!
At GoTential, we have noticed that typical sign-ups have a high level of education, have achieved an elevated degree of success or even prominence in their field, and are now looking for a cause to pour themselves into. They are people with big minds and big hearts. They understand they are gifted, and they hope to employ that giftedness to do missions. Tentmakers are people who have set their sights beyond career accomplishment to seek deeper satisfaction.
If you owned a wood flooring company, wouldn’t it be satisfying enough to know that princes and queens hired you because you are the best in Europe? No! You wouldn’t be happy unless you were also on fire with the gospel. And that burning in your bones makes you yearn for the next level—mission.