Broken Arrow 'Marketplace minister' teaches business, Christian principles on overseas trips
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 5:56 AM
Helping business missionaries: Read more about the Global Business Success Foundation.
BROKEN ARROW - Businessman Gary Shotton was on an airplane from Guatemala to Tulsa years ago when a thought occurred to him: Why not take American Christian business people to Third World countries to teach business principles and also to share their faith?
Shotton, who moved to Tulsa 30 years ago to attend Bible school, said he had been on several church-organized, teen-oriented missions trips with his three children, now grown, and had been on medical missions trips as a helper.
On those trips he made a point to visit business people to see how things were done in those countries. He always found an eagerness to learn from Americans, who have a worldwide reputation for being successful in business.
Back in Tulsa, he talked over the idea with some business friends and set up his first trip in November 1999 to Poland, about a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
On that trip, and every trip since, he has worked with American missionaries who were already living and working in the country, preferably for at least five years.
He created Global Business Success Foundation, an Oklahoma nonprofit corporation, to set up the trips.
Since 1999, he has been to more than 30 nations, talking through interpreters to such individuals as business people and college students in Africa and China and goat herders in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.
He takes about four trips a year. This year he will go to Mexico, Myanmar, Cameroon and the Dominican Republic. He is beginning to set up trips for churches and other organizations that want to send groups of their own business people on missions trips.
Each eight-day trip includes mentoring business and professional people on business skills, visiting local businesses, lecturing to university students, teaching the Bible and experiencing the culture.
Group members typically preach at a church on the one Sunday that falls within the trip.
They hold seminars on a variety of business subjects, such as how to conduct an interview, hiring practices and writing business plans.
"Our idea is to send less money to people in Third World countries and instead to give them the skills they need to make money," he said.
He said they do not push Christianity on anyone, but invariably the subject comes up.
"Over time, people always ask, 'Why is it that you Americans are so successful?' "
"And I tell them that in my opinion, it's because, as a nation, we started following God from day one.
"As I have opportunity, I share Christ," he said. "Our goal is not just to see how many people are saved but to encourage people to get a little closer to God."
Shotton said he sees himself as a marketplace minister, a term that is gaining traction in the Christian world.
Marketplace ministers work full time in the business community and remain open to sharing their faith with vendors, employees and business associates, he said, without being pushy.
Shotton moved to Tulsa from Houston in 1982 to attend Rhema Bible Training Center, hauling his furniture in a horse trailer.
He supported his family while he was in school by using the same trailer to help people move and eventually developed a moving and storage business affiliated with Atlas Van Lines.
In 2006 he bought Auto-Turn Manufacturing in Broken Arrow, a close-tolerance machining and fabrication shop.
Since then he has more than doubled the size of the building to 35,000 square feet and added numerous computerized machines.
Speaking last week at a meeting of the Oilfield Christian Fellowship in Houston, Shotton said he believes in business plans but has never successfully developed a personal plan for his own life.
"The one-year, five-year and 10-year plan did not work for me," he said.
"My only plan has been to follow God. I have no idea what he has planned for me."
Original Print Headline: Mixing business, religion
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Gary Shotton teaches business principles to college-age students in March in Uganda. Courtesy
Gary Shotton, founder of Global Business Success Foundation, gives a tour Tuesday of his company,
Auto-Turn Manufacturing in Broken Arrow. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World