Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2010
Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Opportunities and fresh perspectives tend to coincide. More than fresh perspectives, however, we need a glimpse from the eternal. Opportunity, Inc. is a portal between the church wall, the market wall, and beyond. It is a new venture led by Ronald Gray and a team that champions the collision of transcendent principles, professions, and mission. It may sound messy, but since you’ve already cracked the door…
Ronald Gray is an evangelist, mission leader, musician, and the author of Enter to Worship, Exit to Serve. Ron brings an infectious exhortation to audiences and individuals worldwide. He is a man of word and action who has a unique ability to transcend arenas. Recently we were able to catch up with each other and he shared about the new opportunity.
1·2-1: What is the “opportunity” of Opportunity, Inc. and how did this come about?
RG: Opportunity, Inc. was birthed from several visions. Quoting from a planning session, we see two great challenges that become the opportunity for Opportunity, Inc. to address: Many Christian people today believe they cannot do secular work for God. To do spiritual work, they must be separated from the secular although most ministries are sustained by secular people.
A big part of the world lives in the prison of poverty. We desire to show that the ways of Jesus Christ move people from poverty to a more abundant lifestyle. This message brought through the Kingdom news of wealth coming from transformed business people will impact the most difficult ideologies such as Islam, communist China, and the other nations living in religious bondage.
We believe that by mobilizing and facilitating Kingdom business people with experience, abilities, and desire to teach, train, or mentor other business people, we can have a direct effect on the development of godly business people.
During the last eight years, I was traveling to Poland and working with several churches. We began with training leaders in the church, but discovered there was a great hunger from business people on how to affect their businesses with Kingdom principles and life.
We started taking leaders from the business community to Poland, sharing in an environment that was not just from a Christian perspective. The response has been tremendous. People have expressed that our teachings were actually better than seminars that they had paid for. There have been men and women who have implemented the principles they have learned and have seen significant results in their lives, their businesses, and their communities.
Business people have become the forgotten people of the church. The church has ministries to men, women, children, and youth, but not many have an ongoing, viable ministry to business people, nor from business people. God wants all believers involved in ministry.
We need to equip business people who have access to the masses eight or more hours every day and bring them to a higher level to demonstrate Christ and impact their communities. Opportunity, Inc. intends to do this by providing teaching seminars for local churches which will allow both the church and business networks to reach the business community with Kingdom principles for success.
Out of these successes, we plan to organize trips to various countries, where we share biblical values and principles that can help people from every walk of life. We are already in Poland, Kenya, and France, and soon we will be in Costa Rica. We will connect relationally through missionaries and indigenous leaders who already utilize businesses in their cities. Through sharing compelling ideas, we can open doors of ministry that would otherwise never be opened while utilizing the well-developed skills of spiritual business people who seek a place for ministry.
Our website, www.Opportunity-lnc.net, is developing a number of articles that we hope will trigger creativity and bring about the desire to network. We offer membership that allows people to access forum through which they can share these ideas with other people of like mind and heart. In the 1970s, there was a group known as Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship. Their primary purpose was to give testimonies and help people understand the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They were able to achieve that purpose, but there were also many business deals struck at these meetings; when business people get together, there is a definite synergy that is creative.
We hope the forum will allow people to grow together and merge ideas and inventions into something that will produce wealth. We hope to genuinely equip people with a sense of their God-given purpose and to help them use Kingdom principles in ways that create wealth, and, at the same time, create questions and opportunities for them to share their faith. We also want to impart ideas that will help them to grow their business both financially and spiritually.
1-2-1: What are some of the values Opportunity Inc. is imparting, and what vehicles are being used in doing so?
RG: Our goal is to teach that there is no difference between the sacred and secular. These are man-made divisions. The Bible teaches that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (see Psalm 24:1). God is working in the entire world. Some think that the workplace is carnal because of money and business. Some also believe that profits are not of God. The tendency has been for the Church to avoid that area and concentrate on “spiritual” areas. The fact is, the workplace is where believers need to be ministering. Miracles took place in the streets, homes, and in the city throughout the Bible. For too long, the Church has preached “come out” while God is saying “go in”. When the Hebrews were taken captive in Jeremiah 29, they were brought into a culture that was anti-God. God told them to stay there, build houses, and have children and grandchildren, and increase in the place He had sent them. His goal was for them to change their environment and change it for generations. We hope to do that by once again sounding the trumpet for Kingdom values. The values we speak about are integrity, fidelity, dependability, faithfulness, excellence, and stewardship, coupled with pragmatic business tools such as management, efficiency, and people skills. We want people to know there is still a place for accountability, respect, and servant leadership in business.
In past years major corporations were looking for skill sets. They have found out that they can teach skill sets, but cannot teach character. Today these major businesses are looking for people who have proven character traits. We have teachers who have been in the workplace for many years and many have been in executive positions. We intend to share that Kingdom values will increase productivity and blessings that cannot be found elsewhere. Authority is a major issue that people need to know has been set into their lives to establish boundaries for behavior and order to every area of life.
We also hope that this is a catalyst to start Opportunity, Inc. branches within cities to build fellowship and trust among business people. Fear is a tool of the enemy that keeps us from one another and the blessings that come when we gather together in unity. And this unity is not only on Sunday mornings, but throughout the week.
1-2-1: What are the hurdles for Opportunity, Inc. as it presents this message across many cultures?
RG: There is an inherent nature within people of every culture to want to do things their own way. Self-centeredness is found in every country and every culture. The tendency to want to do things the way they have always been done is prevalent. One of the great challenges of our teaching is to not think that the Western way is the best. The truth is that many things in our own culture have caused more problems than they have fixed. We must endeavor to share that the culture of Christ’s Kingdom is what is important. It is not American, African, Latin, Asian, or European ideas that are important, but ideas that come from God and have been writ· ten clearly in His Word and ministered by His Spirit. We must be able to identify our own areas of limited understanding and seek to hear what God would say in the midst of every culture and situation with an overall objective of bringing glory to God.
1-2-1: so you’re intruding on some paradigms?
RG: A major challenge we face throughout the world is overcoming the view of the separations of clergy and laity. It appears that many people feel that the only ones called by God are those standing behind a pulpit. God has sent all of us into the world! We must also overcome the idea that the church is designed primarily to operate inside a building on Sunday mornings. We must change people’s perspectives that Christians in the marketplace only exist to make money to fund the vision of those behind the pulpit.
There constantly seems to be warfare in this area to help people know and understand that they are called to their vocation as a ministry unto God. I have traveled in more than 40 countries and find this to be something that has been propagated in every form and fashion. If the Church is to be the effective instrument in the world that God has called us to, we must move into every arena God opens to us.
1·2·1: What do you believe God is saying in the Marketplace?
RG: Over the last several years, I have seen people move into a new dimension of calling. They are becoming creative and inspired to do things they thought were impossible before.
Oz Hillman wrote a book titled, The Nine to Five Window. For years, the Church has been reaching into the 10/40 window. While I believe that is still needed, the fact is that if the Church also transforms business, we will be able to reach into all nations and regain the rightful influence and power that God gave to us.
The Church is dysfunctional in so many areas. We have lost our bearings. Daily life should be the background for miracles. The people we touch every day should be the ones experiencing new life in their children, their spouses, and their jobs. We live in a real world and have a God who created us to function in this world. We must be able to reveal His Kingdom through our daily lives and actions. Our character and values need to proclaim His life every day. I fully expect to see a fresh outpouring of the presence of the Almighty in the marketplace as we recommit ourselves to His calling for our lives and embrace His values for living. THIS is what we mean by OPPORTUNITY!
We are looking for entrepreneurs, business owners, trainers and leaders to help us take a message of opportunity and life to countries and people who are searching.
Scripture Reference: Psalm 24:1; Jeremiah 29
JONATHAN SIMPSON is a frequent contributing writer to CSM’s Marketplace Exchange.