Vadim and Vending

I have a lot of stories that are still in the percolation stage, meaning I don’t yet have enough to report on that would make it worth reading. This is a story that isn’t ready for prime time, but I have to share what has been happening to date here on my blog.

God connected me with Vadim through one of my prayer partners back in Richmond. She had read an article about him in the Fuller alumni magazine and sent it to me. I could tell he was one of those “must meets” right away – a seminary graduate who had decided to open a business instead of a church. On our very first meeting at his coffee shop he was already sharing his vision for supporting missionaries with his second business – coffee vending machines. It was a neat idea, since it is both profitable and takes very little time. But I was more interested in the man behind the idea – a calm, mature believer who uses his business to disciple his employees and manifest Kingdom principles. That may not sound too radical to some, but in Russia, it’s an anomaly.

Before long I was doing my newtorking thing: I introduced Vadim to Colleen and Igor to see what magic could happen, and they all hit it off. We started working on a project to start a new Christian business forum for networking and training of Christians for business ownership. That project is in an uncertain status at the present, but the vending for missionaries kept coming up in my conversations with Vadim. (Mind you, we are talking about supporting Russian leaders, not foreign missionaries.)

I had already had a powerful meeting with some of the leadership of CRM’s Enterprise International, which starts businesses where CRM is located to support local missions. These guys had come to St. Petersburg in December to meet someone else and had had no idea that our team was here. God corrected that oversight at the last minute, and I got to share my vision with them.

The problem was that they were already pulled in too many directions to do anything for us just yet. But the more I talked with Vadim, the more I wanted to get these guys involved. Finally in June Vadim and I came up with a plan to set up a mission that would focus on finding, supporting, and training leaders, with his business as one of the ways that those leaders would be supported while in training. When I shared the vision with Steve Hall of Enterprise, the response was more enthusiastic than I had anticipated. What shocked me was that I was so worried about how to create a ministry model that would fly with supporters. Steve told me that all that was important to find the capital we needed was a good business model. The potential supporters already know and trust CRM well enough to expect that the ministry model will be solid. Another affirmation that I am associated with the right team (CRM).

Update, October 3rd. We have met with a lawyer about whether to go for-profit or nonprofit, and although both are possible, it looks like we will go for-profit (called “commercial” here). I spoke again with Steve today and things are coming together. Even though we have some details to work out in the exact business structure and how we will compensate Vadim for his time in training the missionaries, He has everything he needs to go to the board of E.I. next week (meeting Tuesday Oct. 7th through Friday) to ask them to consider making this project a priority for the upcoming fiscal year. This is really exciting to say the least, since, apart from the research I have provided from this end, Steve has done most of the work needed to formalize the plan for the board, freeing me up to concentrate more on the ministry side of the planning.

Best case scenario: the board calls this project a “needs to happen” and pulls budgeted funds our way. Steve comes and does his due diligence and finalizes plans here in the next several weeks, and we are up and running by the end of the year.

Worst case: the project falls below the fundable priorities, but we could still raise funds from outside of CRM. Indeed Steve has some donors interested in funding this project. Steve feels, however, that my ability to serve this project at least temporarily wearing the business director hat bodes well for its prospects this week.

Thanks for praying this week.

This thread continues here.

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