As part of your preparation for your BAM ministry, you will want to clearly think through what your PROFILE (identity) is going to be. I strongly believe that developing a strong professional identity is a key building block for any effective long-term tentmaker.
Who do you say that you are?
As you begin the think about your identity, you will need to have your “story” down.
I am not talking about a fake story, but one that truly expresses who you are and your professional identity.
If you are doctor, then focus on the fact that you are a doctor looking to save lives. If you coming to do business, make sure that you have answers to the standard questions that business people will be ask.
Whatever you are doing, you need to think beforehand what identity you are wanting to communicate to the host country.
As part of being prepared, we have found that it is helpful to have some printed materials ready to hand out to people. Whether it is a profession business card that backs your profile or brochure that explains your vision, these extra tools will help to establish a credible profile for those you meet.
Who do others think you are?
The second part and as important is who do your host culture think that you are? As I sat with a police officer who was questioning me on my identity, he said some very strong words.
He said, “We are not stupid…we know who is here just setting up fake businesses so they can be missionaries and we know those who are setting up real businesses.”
Obviously in my mind I was hoping he saw our company as the later, but the point is that our local host communities are not dumb.
Many of them understand business and have credible professional profiles! They will look at you and your work ethic, lifestyle, and professional conduct to draw their conclusions if you are legitimate. I encourage you to think about these issues before jumping into your BAM role.
Developing your identity takes time and does not just happen overnight. Remember that part of your identity is that you are a follower of Jesus.
Never lose this as part of your profile! You want to be known as a committed Christian who is a professional.