Interview with Tommy Lee

Mission Trips of a Different Kind: Diving Into the World’s Financial Districts

Thinking about mission trips to impoverished countries as about only reaching the poor is a thing of the past, says Resource Global visionary and leader Tommy Lee.

The reality is that many of these same countries where Christians went out in multitudes to share the gospel in distant villages and outposts, now have economically thriving financial districts inside cosmopolitan cities.

“The whole idea behind Resource Global is that the world is different. We used to think that missions was just about sending missionaries to all these islands, the bush, and third-world countries where they don’t know anything about Christ,” Tommy said. “Now, the cities are booming, the economies are booming, and their young people are well-educated, college grads, wealthier than you and I, and have dreams to really make a difference in the city.”

The question now becomes: “How do you equip young Christian marketplace leaders to not only grow their existing enterprises for their city but to understand the greater world of global missions and supporting initiatives around the world?”

Because of this shifting paradigm, an important focus for Resource Global is to identify young marketplace leaders, who are post-college to early 30’s living and working in different global cities. “We come alongside them to help them really understand their journey and what their presence in their city means,” Tommy said.

Resource Global was started in 2010 after the Lausanne Global Congress in South Africa. After the Congress was over, the question was asked – How do we invest in these leaders who are making a difference for the Kingdom in their respective countries, cities, and also communities?

In the first five years of the organization, the staff and volunteers of Resource Global worked primarily with ministry and non profit leaders to engage their cities. Resource Global worked on projects in a number of global cities and also in various parts of the US. Countries included Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Peru, China, and more.

Tommy said that the idea of establishing cohorts, such as in Jakarta, came when he felt the need to shift away from focusing on ministries and invest in these young marketplace leaders in key urban cities around the world. Many of these young leaders had studied in the West, Oxford, or other cities outside of their own and now were returning home to work. “Globalization was creating a different type of person, one that is unlike anyone we have seen before.” They are seeing things different, with a different set of lenses. “What does it mean if these people continue to renew their city as we continue to invest in them?”

Cohorts are started when a decision is made to “journey together for eight months to really be able to learn some practical, theological ideas, and also reflect and understand God’s journey and story for their lives.” The long term vision is to build a global network where like minded leaders from different cities are learning from one another. Technology has allowed us to do this easily now.

Tommy adds, “So, we will spend some time looking at Scripture, but a lot of it is looking at what their story is and how God is moving and shaping them. We also look at the topics of faith and work as well as their strengths and passions while tackling what it looks like to address the problems in their city.

“The key then becomes for us to connect them with the other cohorts. So, we have a cohort in Chicago, we will have one in Nairobi, and Singapore. Now, with the world being smaller, how can a person in Jakarta connect with a person in Nairobi and learn from each other?”

Resource Global focuses on developing local leaders and teachers.

“These cohorts are a pipeline for developing local leaders and teachers,” Tommy said. “Now, this first cohort (Jakarta) is helping us to oversee a conference, they are now going to be some of our future breakout teachers and We’re teaching them how to break down scripture and speak according to scripture and develop talks around scripture.”

First in a series.

Interview by Alex Murashko