|The 2009 BAM Think Tank Report can be downloaded here.
Indonesia: how a Muslim village was transformed through prayer, Christian businesspeople, and owls.
Let me share a story from Indonesia, which illustrates the potential transformational power of business. I witnessed firsthand how a Muslim village was transformed through prayer, Christian businesspeople, and owls.
It was a warm and humid day in Indonesia. One may say almost too hot for a Swede. But the story that emerged was more than cool. I spent a day with the mayor of a small Muslim village. We sat outside his house, drank tea, and nibbled on fruit, nuts, and sweets. He was enthusiastic and composed. As a devout Muslim, he had come to appreciate Christian businesspeople in a way that surprised him. There is a long and sometimes violent history of severe distrust and tension between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia.
The mayor told me that the village used to be quite poor. Rats ate 40 percent of the crops every year, and these creatures also spread disease. Collaboration for irrigation was nonexistent. There was a lack of entrepreneurial spirit, and it seemed that no one thought about praying for a difference.
Then one day, some Christian businesspeople visited the mayor and his village. They wanted to help, and they wanted to build bridges across a religious divide. At first, the mayor declined. Why did businesspeople come and not charity workers or government people? On top of that, these people were Christians – not Muslims.
But one Christian businesswoman suggested that they could at least pray. She said that prayers make a difference; yes, God can make a difference. It was agreed. Something happened, and it became a turning point. The mayor invited them to come back and they did.