The Model

by Morris Ruddick on March 12, 2016


(c) Morris E. Ruddick


In early 1999, my friend Dr. Bob Winer sent me to Ethiopia. My mission was to evaluate potential business opportunity for members of a group of very poor Black Ethiopian Jewish believers.Picture6

Bob had long had a burden for the Falash Mura, an Ethiopian ethnic community of Jewish heritage. They were not accepted by the Ethiopian Coptic Church because of being Jews. On the other hand, when Operation Solomon took place and Ethiopian Jews were emigrated to Israel, they didn’t qualify because they believed in their Jewish Messiah.

Bob, is a leader in the Messianic Jewish community, a psychiatrist and neurologist by profession, but more importantly a big-picture guy. No doubt he asked me to take on this task because I had at the time almost 30 years experience as a problem-solving market planning consultant.

Having at that point traveled internationally to over 30 nations I had seen business opportunity gleaned and created from within a range of economically-deprived cultural settings. However, the poverty I was exposed to while evaluating opportunity for these Ethiopian brethren assaulted my sensibilities. I found myself crying out in prayer: “Lord, their condition should not be. These are Your people. I know You must have an answer and I know it’s not a Western MBA business model.”

Within a month following this heart-cry prayer, during my daily Bible reading, I was preparing to again plow my way through the book of Deuteronomy. Since the early days of my walking with the Lord, I’ve proactively saturated myself with biblical truth and maintained a rigorous Bible-reading program. This Bible-reading program has taken me through the Old Covenant scripture twice a year and the New Covenant five times a year.

Admittedly however, truly understanding Deuteronomy had been a challenge. While I had absorbed many truths from my more than roughly 50 readings of this segment of scripture, I frankly stumbled over what seemed to me as a lot of do’s and don’ts.

However, following this prayer, I began reading again through this foundational book of Jewish principles. As I did, it was like scales fell off my eyes and I realized what I was reading were the principles on how to run a God-centered, entrepreneurial community. I became aware of the role of the truths contained in this book alone, which have made the Jewish people so successful in business over the years. I took over 50 pages of notes.

I also realized that God was answering my question on His solution for people living in conditions like these poor Ethiopian brethren. From that time, truths I had previously seen in many others sections of the Bible began having greater relevance as I began putting together the first steps for the entrepreneurial program I now take around the world. In my late fifties in age at the time, this illumination of the truths of biblical business secrets turned my three decades role as a business consultant into one of putting on business seminars in critical needy areas, based on these truths.

Building on the Foundations
This is the second in a series on Jewish business secrets. During the first session we talked about the foundations lost that represent a vital dimension of our faith. I expressed my personal belief that it is the loss of these foundations that have resulted in people like Ghandi being drawn by the teachings of Jesus, but repelled by the lives of His followers. Our focus on Jewish business secrets are not all, but represent a key part of these lost foundations.

Historical Purposes of Business
A century ago, in the West, business ownership was a means to take care of your family. That’s the way it is today in many Asian countries, a bottom-up model.

Over the centuries, business ownership for the Jewish people not only has been the means to provide for their families, but it has represented a level of protection against the fickle response of employers and communities easily swayed by the fears. anger and misperceptions associated with anti-Semitism.

In feudal societies, in which the very wealthy land-owners ruled over the majority serving as poor peasants working the owner’s land, Jews served necessary functions such as being merchants, brokers, bankers and peddlers. Where there was no middle class, their role in their communities served to create this new economic class of people. They were expert in business. So societies in need of the functions they served, sought them out.

Business ownership for the Jewish people began as a God-thing. Abraham is considered the father of the Jewish people. Abraham was extremely prophetic and sensitive to spiritual things. Abraham had a progressive sequence of God-encounters that shaped his destiny and the course of his life and that of his descendents.

In this process, Abraham became the head of an economic community of more 300 people. What Abraham operated was the model. It combined the spiritual and community with the economic means of being self-sufficient and self-sustaining. In short, Abraham ran a God-centered, entrepreneurial community.

Globally today, two thirds of the world has little to no middle class. These are people who live on less than $2 a day. Well-intended humanitarian efforts, as well as the efforts of many church-related groups to alleviate poverty and hunger have simply not changed things. However, within the Orthodox Jewish community there exists a social system to care for their own. Ancient scripture says that there should be no poor among us. Yet, when there is, there are strategies for addressing it. We’ll talk more about that during this series.

An Operational Model
I shared with you how, beginning with a more complete understanding of the principles outlined in Deuteronomy, that the Lord began to answer my heart-cry to the dilemma of the brethren in Ethiopia. His answer didn’t stop there.

Roughly two months after my very challenging trip to Ethiopia, I attended a conference of Christian business leaders in Singapore. Two weeks before leaving for that conference I received an email from a missionary in Singapore named Bill.

Bill had somehow gotten a copy of a talk I had given two years prior on the example of the biblical Patriarch Joseph and how Joseph’s strategies merging the spiritual and natural averted disaster for the society of which he was a part. Bill wanted to know if I had any other materials on the topic and then concluded his email by asking if I would be coming to Singapore any time soon. I knew this was more than just a “chance” encounter and that God was orchestrating meeting together with this man.

Taking time from my conference, I met with Bill on several occasions. He shared with me a most unusual set of circumstances defining his life. These represented the developments that had led to him to contacting me. Bill had a PhD in geophysics. That was his profession when he had an encounter with the Lord. That encounter refocused his priorities and he moved from his home in Great Britain to a base in Singapore, where he began operating as a missionary in regions of Southeast Asia.

He was in prayer one morning after about ten years in his role as a missionary. The Lord spoke to him and told him to begin praying for someone to give him a business. Bill shared with me that he was startled by such instructions. He told me that at the time, he really knew nothing about business. He was a scientist. He related that he had never been in business and he really had no desire to be in business. However, as a man of prayer, he had come to recognize the voice of God, so he began praying in this way, with the caveat that with the business he was to have, that the Lord would include a business partner to show him the ways of business.

Then nine months later, Bill met a Singaporean Christian businessman. This man had been praying for a whole year that the Lord would bring him someone who could show him how to run a genuine Kingdom business. Bill and his new friend Tuan Seng quickly realized that the Lord had brought them together to do something new and special.

They soon launched a franchise consulting firm (Tuan Seng’s expertise). The timing for opportunity with franchises in that part of the world was perfect. Their clients loved what they did for them and they grew and prospered. They hired and trained competent and honorable young Christians to keep up with the growth. They expanded to Jakarta to do the same thing in Indonesia. The caliber of their clients became such that they soon moved their offices to the prestigious financial district in Singapore.

As God was prospering them, the Lord spoke again to Bill and Tuan Seng while in prayer. He told them it was time for an added dimension, a Kingdom dimension to the work they were doing. With the profits being generated by their firm, they began identifying and fostering business opportunity in villages in poor regions of Southeast Asia.

Bill then began to relate a most unusual story of what took place in a poor, rural village in Cambodia. When Bill first went to visit this village he learned that it was so poor that the average family was eating only one meal a day. With the exception of three Christian families this was otherwise a Buddhist village. It seemed there was a problem with the soil in that village. Nothing would grow. In one of the most fertile regions of the world, the most basic vegetable seeds that were planted would die! Some even suggested that the village might be cursed!

It is written in scripture to do good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of faith. So Bill began things by addressing this problem together with the Christian families. They all prayed and asked the Lord what they might do to reverse the “curse.” One of the wonderful things about prayer, when we learn to discern the voice of the Lord is that God will not only give us an answer to our questions, He’ll also give us a strategy.

What the Lord told Bill and these three families was that the problem with growing things was because of the high clay content in the soil. The Lord then gave them the idea of using the abundance of clay to create decorative clay pots, wall-hangers to market to the West. Bill had a friend in the UK with a gift shop. After packaging up a box of prototypes of these flat-backed clay pots that would hang on a wall, Bill shipped them off to his friend with a note asking if he would try to sell them in his shop.

Finally, the response came from Bill’s friend with the gift shop: “Please send me 25 more boxes of these clay pots as soon as possible. Everything you sent sold out in one day. Everyone wants one!” So, the three Christian families were now in business.

Their business grew quickly. In a matter of three months, the Christian families were all eating three meals a day and to keep up with the growth of their business they were starting to hire other villagers to work for their new company.

Their business continued expanding. In a little over two years, almost every adult in that village was working for this business. Every family in that village was eating three meals a day. Also, without any proselytizing other than sharing how God had given them this strategy, the members of the village saw the reality of God demonstrated and had come to faith.

Enduring Dynamics
This brings us back to the life of Abraham. This example of the village in Cambodia includes a number of key principles that are seen in the life of Abraham. These are principles we will be explaining more fully as this series continues. They are principles that are at the core of Jewish business secrets.

It begins with the fact that Abraham heard from God. In this series, we’re going to address the matter of learning to progressively discern the voice of God. Likewise, Abraham responded to what He heard from God with reverence and action, with obedience. It is written in Scripture: “Teach me Your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your Name.” This short scripture is central to bridging the natural and spiritual, to our response to God and to hearing His voice.

It begins with the an overwhelming need to know the Lord, a desire that is more important than anything else in life. The biblical story of Abraham has its beginnings in Abraham radically adhering to God’s instruction to leave everything familiar to him and go to a land the Lord promised to give him and his descendents. Abraham viewed things beyond the realm of his own life. He was an incredible big-picture individual.

Abraham took God at His word and he acted on it. He responded to what God told him with an awe, or the reverence we describe as the fear of God. He likewise responded with an undivided heart. Nothing else was more important than to take the steps toward what the Lord was laying out before him.

Yet Abraham’s response to God was a two-way street. God, who knows the end from the beginning had a purpose in His plans for Abraham, just like He has a purpose, a destiny for each of us who come to Him. Scripture indicates that God chose Abraham because he would instruct his children and his household after him to keep the ways of the Lord. So it has been, amazingly so, over the generations of Abraham’s descendents. The Jewish people have one of the most amazing histories of any people on the face of the earth.

In the beginning of Abraham’s encounters with God, God convinced Abraham to follow Him with the promise that Abraham and his descendents would be blessed by God and in turn would bring God’s blessings to all those around them. God specifically told Abraham that He would bless those who blessed Abraham and his descendents, but also would curse those who tried to curse or do harm to Abraham and his descendents.

All these factors were at play in the story of the Cambodian village. Scripture tells us that as followers of Jesus that we are grafted into the family of God generated from Abraham. So in summarizing the focus on the model for Jewish secrets, we have two levels. The first is that Abraham operated the model that is at the core of Jewish business secrets. Abraham ran a God-centered entrepreneurial community.

However, the other dimension of the model is how Abraham walked out his life. His life was a journey with God. He had no greater priority than knowing God and His ways. He reverenced God with an undivided heart. The result was that God was his shield and God blessed  and multiplied Abraham far beyond what he might have accomplished through his own efforts.

Through God, Abraham bridged the realm between the natural and the spiritual. Abraham had a destiny and he was wise enough to know that his destiny was only going to be fulfilled and exceeded, through God.

In conclusion, the degree to which this ancient model is followed is critical to an economy’s ability to withstand the rigors of change over time. It forms the basis of the strategy of an entrepreneurial-based middle class; the economic independence that nurtures the good and the growth of the society. This premise is the thread that begins forming the economic tapestry that endures. The model that combines the spiritual, the entrepreneurial and community is the pathway that gives entrance to new dimensions, higher dimensions.

As I’ve previously noted, what I’m outlining is a way of thinking. It enhances the creative and taps deeply the true nature of our gifts. True entrepreneurship is based on the development of a gift that becomes commercialized. Ancient Jewish writings uphold that “a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” We next will take a closer look at when vital combinations of these gifts are nurtured within a trust society to provide ripples of opportunity and the dimension of the dynamic comprising Jewish business secrets. As it is written:
“Blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Many, O LORD my God, are Your wondrous thoughts and deeds toward us; for with You, there is none to compare.” Ps 40:4-5

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