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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Contextualizing Truth In The Workplace


Hans Nielsen Hauge, the 19th Century Norwegian evangelist-entrepreneur who preached throughout Norway and started businesses, taught about "living faith" at a time when the state Church in Norway was teaching something less.

Hauge was not an ordained pastor, and any religious assembly without a state-authorized minister present was unlawful. Hauge was imprisoned no less than 14 times. He spent 9 years in confinement, including one stint without seeing sunlight for nearly 4 years. Yet in spite of the resistance he met from Church leaders, Hauge encouraged his "Society of Friends" to remain in the state Church, because he believed the Church was the foundation of the nation.

Hauge wrote 33 books over 18 years. It is estimated that 100,000 Norwegians read one or more of his books when only about 900,000 in the entire country were literate. To say Hauge had a profound influence upon the spiritual life of Norway in his day is an understatement.

But Hauge had a profound influence on the material life of Norway, too. Hans loved God and loved people. Through the creation of profit-producing businesses, and the jobs that went with them, Hague mitigated poverty. After establishing new businesses, he delegated the management to capable others. Hauge helped his fellow Norwegians to see the altruistic possibilities of a biblically-informed approach to entrepreneurialism.

On February 27, 1809, civil authorities released Hauge for six months during a five-year sentence so he could establish salt mines for the government that imprisoned him! He established five mines in those six months. (Let's just say this man was gifted.)

Hauge was compelled by a vision for the Kingdom. A vision for the Kingdom of God to "come" wherever Christ's will was done on earth. This included every part of earth, from the farm, to the factory, to the family. Hauge had a wholistic understanding of the Gospel, for sure, and he embraced the notion of profit-making for the common good, similar to the Moravians. He saw no "sacred-secular divide."

He also saw women as equals. Frances Sejersted, former president of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, once declared: "The Hauge movement was a major contributing factor for developing democracy in Norway."

The Hauge Institute was founded in 2005 to raise awareness about Hauge's ethical practice and servant leadership. Click here for more about this extraordinary man and his indefatigable commitment to contextualizing Truth in the workplace. 


This painting, called Haugianerne, was created by Adolph Tidemand in 1852, some 28 years after the passing of Hauge. The scene depicts a meeting of The Society of Friends, which grew out of the life and teachings of Hans Nielsen Hauge. The Hauge Institute writes: "Societies of Friends were organised as the revival spread across the land.  They were sometimes called readers or students, because they studied the Holy Scriptures a great deal and were very knowledgeable.  They were also called Haugians.  Such Societies were registered all over the country; there must have been several thousand members altogether.  These groups met in their homes and spent much time together praying and teaching."



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Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Is Norway #1?


The 18th and 19th Century influence of Christianity upon the common good and human flourishing of modern nations is remarkable. No accounting of it would be complete without discussing Hans Nielsen Hauge's extraordinary influence upon Norway.

A few months ago, I highlighted 19th-Century missionary influences upon Korea, and I suggested this may have something to do with South Korea ranking #9 out of 187 nations in the United Nations Human Development Index. I also pointed out that Norway is #1. This may have surprised you. It did me. Until I learned some Norwegian history.

Why is Norway #1? Perhaps it's because on April 5, 1796, a young Norwegian, age 25, had a life-altering encounter with God while walking behind a plow, singing a hymn.

Am I stretching things? Those who know what happened after this encounter don't think so. The experience Hans Nielsen Hauge had that day was so overwhelming he couldn't describe the joy. It changed him forever. He was filled with the Spirit, and began telling others about the resurrected Lord. The rest is Norwegian history.

Hauge (1771-1824) had the evangelistic fervor of Wesley, combined with the business acumen of a Moravian−on steroids. He had a love for Scripture, to which he turned for answers, even when those answers challenged the state Church establishment. He did not remain silent when it came to Truth. Hauge was imprisoned numerous times for violating the Konventikkel Ordinance, which forbade preaching independently of the Church of Norway.

Hans traversed Norway, north and south, preaching and teaching. A spiritual awakening ensued. People who heard him wept. The lives of many Norwegians were transformed through a personal encounter with the living Christ, just as Hauge's own life had been transformed.

But Hans didn't just preach and teach. He knitted gloves and socks has he traveled on foot, giving them to the poor as he went. But more than this, Hauge started diverse businesses, creating many jobs throughout the land. Think of him as the "Johnny Appleseed of Norwegian Commerce." Hauge was instrumental in starting fishing industries, brick yards, shipping operations, salt mines and paper mills. "Haugians" all over Norway established shops, founded factories and began industrial projects. 

Hauge literally started a movement that was not only spiritual, but economic. "Haugianism," as it became known, had a significant influence upon the foundation of modern Norway.

More to come.

Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), has been called the "Apostle of Norway." 



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Friday, April 11, 2014

Most Deterrents To Lasting Achievement Are Internal


Last week we examined the horrifying reasons why the "Moravian experiment" among American Indians was short-lived. But not all Moravian settlements were wiped out by paranoid neighbors. Most deterrents to lasting achievement are internal.

18th Century Moravians were characterized by an unusual "spirit," when it came to business. Specifically, they possessed an uncommon attitude toward profits. Otto Uttendörfer described it as "the spirit of sacrifice and of being content with little for oneself while devoting much to the Lord's cause."

The Moravian purpose for profit-making was not individualistic. Personal prosperity was not the aim. Their focus was on the Kingdom of God and/for the common good. The well-being of the community as a whole, both spiritually and economically, was the goal (as in oikonomia). This necessitated not only preaching the Gospel and discipling believers, but creating worthy employment for the whole community, believers or not.

But an altruistic approach to profit-making cannot be imposed by law. Nor can it be generationally passed on by fiat. As more communities experienced the blessings of profit, more individuals came into those communities not sharing the Moravian "spirit of profit-making." Consequently, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, today, is not the Bethlehem it once was.

William Danker, in Profit For the Lord, says the "General Economy" of early Bethlehem "died not of failure, but of success." He writes: "With rising prosperity, individual instincts to have, to hold, and to spend according to one's own desire reasserted themselves," and notes: "Religion became segregated from the realm of economics." [This is the sacred-secular divide Hobby-Lobby is challenging today.]

Danker quotes John Wesley with respect to the "curious inverse relation" between Christian faith and wealth: "For religion must of necessity produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches."

Count Zinzendorf was not a "controller," out to establish "Zinzendorf-towns," or to build "The Kingdom of the Moravian Church." Zinzendorf was of a mind to have Moravians absorbed by other churches, and cooperating with other Christian groups for common Kingdom-of-God causes. This may account for the fact that the number of Moravian congregations is relatively small today. The largest concentration of congregations is in Tanzania, Africa.

For information about Moravian-rooted businesses in Antigua, Aruba, Curacao and Suriname (including Kersten, the oldest trading company in the Western Hemisphere), click here and here.

This is a screenshot of the home page for MCF Business Enterprises, B.V.,  headquartered in The Netherlands. It is the parent organization for Moravian-rooted business enterprises in Antigua, Aruba, Curacao, and Suriname today. MCF was established to maintain "a harmonious unity between Church and business." Link: here.
 
This screenshot is the homepage of Kersten, a diversified conglomerate of companies in Suriname and oldest trading company in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1768 by Moravians. The 12 operating companies in this conglomerate today are all limited liability enterprises, with a total of 648 employees, as of the latest information provided by MCF above. Link: here.




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Friday, April 4, 2014

The Next Time You Drive Past A Native American Casino


How successful were the Moravians in helping American Indians start businesses? Today's Native Americans are famous for casinos in my state. What happened?  To answer, I must share something shameful I was not taught in US history class.

The Moravians were successful in establishing prosperous villages of Christian Indians. William Danker, in Profit For the Lord, describes one such Moravian Indian village, Friedenshütten, in Pennsylvania:

"The Indians lived in log houses with windows and chimneys like the homesteads of the settlers. The streets and alleys were kept scrupulously clean. In the center of the town stood the chapel with a school house as its wing. Behind the houses were fruitful gardens and orchards. Stretching down the river were cultivated fields and meadows. The converts had large herds of cattle and hogs, and poultry of every kind." 

These Christian Indians sold corn, maple sugar, butter, and dugout canoes made from white pine. Other Moravian Indian villages included Shekomeko in New York, Indian Pond on the Connecticut border, and Gnadenhütten in Ohio.

But during the Revolutionary War, the Christian Indians, along with Moravians, tried to preserve neutrality. They were suspected by both the British and the Americans as double-dealing. Indian war parties were hard to trace, but settled Christian Indians in villages were easy prey. They became scapegoats many American settlers wanted to eliminate.

Danker tells of 150 men from Pittsburgh moving against the village of Gnadenhütten: They "bound the peaceful inhabitants and murdered them two by two in two buildings they wantonly called 'slaughter houses.' White men, some of whom must have been baptized as Christians, scalped Christian Indians with biblical names who lived in white men's houses, wore white men's clothing, and used civilized utensils and tools in their homes and their work. Some of the Indians pleaded for their lives in fluent German and English. Yet the pitiless settlers spared not a single one." 

Six missionary assistants and their wives were butchered that day. In total, 96 defenseless people were scalped by whites: 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children. 

In time, all Moravian Indian villages came to an end. Danker concludes: "One cannot help wondering what the future of the Indian American and the future of Indian missions might have been if the Moravian experiment had not been choked in blood."

Think about this the next time you drive past a Native American casino.   

This mass grave mound of Christian Indians massacred at Gnadenhutten, Ohio, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Indians' bodies were first piled in mission buildings by the killers, and then the village was burned down. No criminal charges were ever filed. Years later, a missionary by the name of John Heckewelder collected the remains, and buried them in this mound, just south of the old village site. Left click on the photo one time to enlarge it. What lies on the other side of the street is quite a contrast. [This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unreported license. Attribution: Bwsmith84 at en.wikipedia.]
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