Pastor Sumrall explained that this conference was being organized by the Kasaganaan business fellowship and the School of Christian Entrepreneurial Studies (SCES). This business group and school focus on equipping Christians in the Philippines to do "business by the Book" and to help members who are so inclined to find new opportunities by becoming entrepreneurs, better employees, managers, and business owners.
I was intrigued, so I asked why they do this. I even asked if this was a way to get people into church for group evangelism. Would there be an altar call, I wondered?
Pastor Sumrall replied...
No, we hold evangelism events throughout the year so we have that area of ministry covered. This conference is about equipping the people of Manila, not just the people of our church, to be more productive so that they can experience prosperity and rise above their present circumstances.Now, I wanted to hear more. He explained the Philippines is a wonderful country and the Filipinos are a wonderful people, but they face many challenges that keep them a third world country. His vision, is to provide a biblically correct model and training for the people of Manila to learn and grow and prosper in business, whether working for someone else, or as a self-employed individual, or as a manager/owner of a company that employs others.
Now, I was really intrigued. Here is a pastor with a vision and the commitment to act on that vision to change people's lives, not only spiritually, as we might expect from a pastor, but physically, by "teaching them to fish," so to speak. This seems like such a different focus than some of the conferences I've attended in the United States, where being productive is tied to only to profits. [I have no problem with profits - I enjoy making a profit from my work - but I'm inspired to see Pastor Sumrall's commitment that everyone should profit. Now that's motivating!]
Pastor Sumrall explained that his goal is to keep the attendee cost of the conference as low as possible so that everyone can attend. I'm really glad that I decided to come to Manila in advance of the conference, both to meet Pastor Sumrall in person, and to meet the people I will be serving. As I prayed about the conference I became aware that my cultural experience was very different from the Filipino people and that in order to be successful in my presentation I needed to get to know the people I would come to serve and to understand what of my skills and life experience would be of interest and value to them.
So, here I am, in a foreign country, doing just that. The adventure continues...