What sells coffee, necklaces, leather goods, and carpentry while simultaneously educating children, providing medical care, and employing local people?
Mission Lazarus, of course.
What’s even better than an organization that does everything listed above?
One that serves in the name of Jesus.
“Our projects are a mean to an end. Our end is bringing people to Jesus Christ,” said Jarrod Brown, President and Co-Founder of Mission Lazarus.
Jarrod, who spent about a decade in Honduras before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, joined professors Andy Little and Monty Lynn this week in a three-part lecture series on social entrepreneurship at ACU’s annual “Summit” conference.
Social entrepreneurship, which can be defined as mission-driven entrepreneurship with a distinctly social focus, is a rapidly growing segment of the nonprofit landscape. In order to further explore this elusive concept, Drs. Little and Lynn left the textbooks behind and joined Jarrod in providing a unique intersection of principles that have been taught in air-conditioned classrooms but applied in the mountainous jungles of the third world.
As he discussed the rare marriage of business and missions that is Mission Lazarus, Jarrod talked about the dangers often lurking behind short-term missions. As he pointed out, Americans often take advantage of orphaned or impoverished children when they visit for a week, post the highlights of their trip on Facebook, and then return to the States feeling as if they have utterly changed the world.
However, the sad reality is that when Americans go home on emotional, self-congratulatory highs, monetary poverty continues to run rampant throughout the third world.
So how does Mission Lazarus differ from this standard model of self-fulfilling aid work?
It’s structured, in some ways, like a business.
You see, like any successful business, Mission Lazarus is focused on perpetually raising up new leadership, much of which is actually from Honduras. By partnering with local people, Mission Lazarus is able to form relationships and provide mentoring that goes beyond the typical workplace interface and that extends beyond a week. As a result, these relationships provide the opportunity for Christ to be shared through the work Jarrod and his co-workers are doing in Honduras.
Another business-like aspect of Mission Lazarus is the fact that it actually contains several for-profit agricultural ventures, like a coffee plantation. (To buy Mission Lazarus coffee, click here.) Through these ventures, Mission Lazarus is able to cover 12% of its total expenses…by itself.
This self-sufficiency not only provides donor confidence in where money goes, it also means that as Mission Lazarus needs less and less money to run its current opportunities, it has the chance to continue growing and expanding.
Through this stellar example of social entrepreneurship, Jarrod and his entire team have followed God’s lead and found themselves right in the middle of God’s work in Honduras. As a result, lives are being changed, not just through the provision of food and education, but through the knowledge of who Jesus is and how He can utterly transform lives.
In Tuesday’s session, Dr. Lynn made a profound point: “Development must be both inward and outward.”
At Mission Lazarus, inward and outward development are every day occurrences.
What are you doing to develop yourself as both a leader and a follower of Christ today?
For more information about Mission Lazarus, click here, and to find out more about COBA’s Summer Study Abroad Trip to Mission Lazarus, email Andy Little at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jim Litton at email@example.com