Ministry To The Marketplace

In October 2001, shortly after the tragedy of 9/11, Dick Mills prophesied over my wife Inger and I that we would be “...facilitator(s) of valid funds to disperse the funds to the right programs...” Dick Mills, a recognized prophetic voice in the body of Christ, always gives a scripture reference to accompany his word. In our case he cited Proverbs 13:22: “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous.”

With this, our exciting journey began.

In November I received a phone call from Stephen Thompson, a Foursquare pastor from Seattle and a former New York Jets football player, whom I had briefly met at TACF in October. He told me that God had impressed him to begin a ministry on Wall Street in New York City. He asked if I would take him and his wife, Starla, down to Wall Street and Ground Zero so he could walk the area and pray.

As we talked he told me that several years earlier a man by the name of Dick Mills had prophesied that he would have a ministry to the money markets of the world. Proverbs 13:22 was the verse cited by Dick Mills. While he was at TACF Heidi Baker prayed for Stephen. Since receiving prayer, he had begun to believe that now was the time for that prophecy to be released in his life. We both concluded that God was up to something and made plans to meet in New York City.

In December I made arrangements for Stephen, Starla, Inger and I to tour Ground Zero and meet with a pastor whose Wall Street church was destroyed in the 9/11 attack. Pastor Dan Stratton of Faith Exchange Fellowship had since found a new facility for his church and was extremely gracious and encouraging. Before becoming a full time pastor, Dan had previously worked as a commodities broker on Wall Street and saw the need to bring the good news of Jesus to the marketplace.

In January 2002 I retired from the New York State Supreme Court after eighteen years of service there. Inger and I traveled to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida and met with Chester and Betsy Kylstra. Chester, who is a former nuclear engineer, shared a vision he had to bring the principles of inner healing to businesses and business people. In fact he was in the process of writing a business manual based upon his Restoring the Foundations principles.

It seemed that God was bringing together individuals with diverse business backgrounds from various streams of the River to reach into the marketplace. I wondered, what would this look like and why the marketplace?

WHY THE MARKETPLACE?

Jesus once told his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23-24)

I had heard this scripture preached in church for many years but often out of context. Many would walk away from sermons like this believing that a person’s spirituality is somehow connected to their financial condition. While it is true that material possessions create temptation for a person of wealth, I’ve also noticed that those who live from paycheck to paycheck are also tempted by the love of money but from a different direction.

Unfortunately many Christians find it easier to evangelize and disciple the “down and outers” and ignore the “up and outers” while the wealthy have the same problems as everyone else. This was never more real than when they realized their vulnerability to terrorism on September 11, 2001. They have also experienced the negative effects of corporate corruption and falling markets. Their marriages are failing. Their children are in rebellion. They find comfort in substance abuse. Unlike others they can hide their fears, marriages, children and addictions behind expensive homes, grand cars and lavish lifestyles. Yet they have need of a Savior just like every other child of God.

One of the most common subjects of Jesus’ teachings was actually the use of money.

Jesus grew up in a marketplace environment in the household of Joseph the carpenter, where he learned the trade of carpentry. When Jesus began his ministry, he recruited business people such as the fishing fleet owners, Peter and Andrew and the tax collector, Matthew. When he called James and John, they were in a boat with their father preparing their nets. (Matt 4:21)

The writers of the New Testament were also active in business. Paul was trained as a lawyer and Luke as a doctor. A favorite scripture of mine is Luke 27:57, “... a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus...” In other words, when Jesus died on the cross, a rich man stepped forward to donate the tomb for Jesus’ burial. (I suppose he didn’t realize it would become a short-term loan!)

What the Bible says is that the issue is not the condition of our bank accounts but the condition of our hearts. The wealthy need a relationship with Jesus too. I believe that Christians can no longer afford to be intimidated by the financially successful people of the world. The love of God the Father can flow through you to reach all people regardless of their wealth or positions of influence.

If our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and paves His streets with gold, why are God’s children afraid of having wealth? Why would someone from the business community be attracted to the church when we preach that the way to spirituality is always through poverty?

A MARKETPLACE PARADIGM

I believe that “successful” are an unchurched people group that is deeply loved by our Heavenly Father just like any other demographic group of individuals. So how do we reach them?

As Stephen Thompson and I began to share our vision of a ministry to the business community, we found that individuals who had experience in the marketplace could see the wisdom behind it. Yet we struggled with what such a ministry would look like. How could we find God’s creative ways to reach the business community? Is it really necessary to tailor a ministry directly to them? As we prayed and talked it over, it became clear. These are the reasons Stephen and I believe such an outreach by business people to business people is sorely needed:

- People who have a history of business involvement possess a measure of credibility based on shared experience.

- The profit motive is a powerful motivating force for the business person. Business people are interested in learning how they can attract customers and improve productivity. These are useful skills when it comes to seeking excellence and success for God’s kingdom.

- Business executives in the marketplace today have heard all the intellectual motivation before. We must reach their hearts. The message of God’s love must be accompanied by a demonstration of God’s power. Why can’t we teach them to hear the voice of God and experience emotional, spiritual and physical healing?

- It is no more spiritual in the sight of God to be a full-time cleric than to be a business person.

- These executives are people of action. When they come to Jesus Christ, they want to know how they can use their positions, influence and resources to impact the world for God.

In response to what we believe is God’s leading, we have formed a not-for-profit corporation called the Wall Street Paradigm Corporation. Pastor John Arnott, himself a former businessman, suggested that Stephen and I plan an encounter weekend with executives as a first step in reaching the marketplace. Our first Executive Encounter Weekend is October 24 to 26, 2003 at the Regent Wall Street Hotel directly at 55 Wall Street in New York City. The dinners and workshops will focus on validating the marketplace calling, understanding the Father’s heart for all individuals, a demonstration of God’s power (1 Cor. 2:4) and an exposure to the needs of currently functioning ministries that feed the widows and orphans (James 1:27).

It is our prayer that individuals of position, influence and resources will learn about and take a direct interest in a ministry of their choosing.

Wall Street Paradigm Corporation will not be a clearinghouse for the distribution of funds such as United Way, but rather we will encourage direct involvement between the individual and the ministry they choose. It is not important to us which tribe, language, people or nation are served (Rev 5:9); it is only important that they are!

THE LARGER VISION

We know God wants to evangelize, disciple and mobilize the people in the marketplace for His kingdom. Just imagine 120 individuals of position, influence and resources, in love with Jesus in every major metropolitan area in the world: New York, London, Rome, Toronto, Tokyo, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, or any other community in the world. Just imagine each of these sons and daughters of the Father channeling their resources into feeding the widows and orphans of the world.

Truly the Kingdom of God would then be a place where there is sanctuary, abundance and life.