Joseph Vijayam

 

Siapakah Joseph Vijayam?
 
Beliau adalah Managing Director dan pendiri dari Olive Technology (http://www.olivetech.com ), sebuah  IT Company dengan customer dari 9 negara, beroperasi di USA, India & Indonesia. Sejak tahun 1996, telah menyediakan full-service solutions dalam software development dan process management di lingkungan industri yang beraneka ragam. Memiliki misi memperlengkapi individu dan komunitas untuk menggunakan pengetahuan dan teknologi untuk kehidupan orang banyak yang lebih baik.
 
 
Dalam keluarganya, Joseph adalah generasi ketiga tentmaker (istilah untuk misionaris/fulltimer yang mensupport sendiri penghidupannya, seperti Paulus) dari India. Beliau melihat bisnis dan pelayanan sebagai satu kesatuan yang utuh. Saat ini, ia adalah penasehat dari gerakan Business as Mission (http://www.businessasmission.com/ ). Sehingga perusahaannya pun merefleksikan Kristus dalam berbagai aspek, dengan menyediakan dukungan teknologi, sumber daya manusia, dan finansial bagi pelayanan-pelayanan di India. Mereka juga berusaha memulai gereja bagi kaum profesional di Hyderabad, India.
 
Lulusan Computer Science dari Biola University dan Business Administration dari Georgia State University ini rutin menulis blog di Ministry Platforms (http://www.ministryplatforms.com/ ). Selain itu, beliau melayani sebagai pengurus dalam 3 organisasi non-profit (a) Global Mapping International (www.gmi.org), (b) Global Disciples (www.globaldisciples.org) dan (c) TENT (www.tentindia.org). Selain itu juga menjadi Senior Associate of Technology untuk konferensi misi tingkat dunia The Lausanne Movement (www.lausanne.org). Account twitternya bisa difollow di @josephvijayam
 
Referensi: Buku Great Commission Companies: The Emerging Role of Business in Missions
Oleh Steven Rundle,Tom A. Steffen
 
 
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Personal Background
 
The VIjayam family has a long history of self-supported ministry, Joseph’s grandfather worked as a furniture maker while serving as bishop for the Church of South India, a church with one of the largest memberships in the world. While many church leaders criticized his decision to support himself- suspecting it was motivated by a desire to be accountable to church leadership- he always maintained it was because he found the apostle Paul’s model to be persuasive. That is, providing for his own income not only relieved his flock of that burden, but it gave his preaching added credibility because he faced the same marketplace challenges that they did. (Paul’s approach to self-supported ministry is often referred to as “tentmaking,” after Acts 18:3.) 
 
During the last year and a half of his grandfather’s life, the two shared a bedroom in their Hyderabad home. Joseph recalls many conversations during that time about the needs of the church in India, and the importance of raising up more tentmakers.
 
Joseph’s father, a hydrogeologist by training, was also a strong proponent of tentmaking. In addition to teaching hydrogeology and oil exploration at Osmania  University, mentoring Ph.D. students, and doing consulting work for some of the world’s largest oil exploration companies, Dr. Vijayam also advised some of India’s leading ministry figures, and founded a holistic development agency called TENT (Training for Evangelism, Needs and Technology).Initially the primary purpose of TENT was to mobilize and train rural pastors, a mission that included providing the means by which they could become self-supporting. 
 
A major earthquake in 1994 prompted TENT to expand its focus into microfinance and rural development more generally.
Dr Vijayam was often away on weekends, visiting rural communities, assisting their development efforts and preaching in their churches. Joseph remembers accompanying his father on many of those trips. Sometimes they made a family vacation out of it, and other times it was just the two of them. He recalls the profound impact those trips had on his life. 
 
They provided a glimpse into a world that was far removed from the one he and his middle-class friends were experiencing in Hyderabad. Joseph enjoyed sharing stories with his friends about his travels to rural villages, of sleeping in huts, riding in oxcarts and other exotic experiences.
 
In spite of his rich Christian pedigree, Joseph began to stray from his faith as a teenager. This prompted a close friend of the Vijayam family- a deep thinking, godly man named Dr.P.T.George-to take a special interest in Joseph. 
 
One day Dr. George invited Joseph to come live with him for a few weeks. The agreement: :There will be no rules. You can come and go as you please.” A few weeks of freedom from parental control was as offer Joseph could not refuse. But three days into this vacation, he remembers coming home around 2:00 a.m. and finding Dr.George in his room, a single light on inside his mosquito net, kneeling in prayer. Joseph quietly approached and could hear that the prayer was about him! Some conversation and Scripture reading followed, and Joseph turned his life over to Christ...... 
 
Wanting to grow in his newly personalized faith, Joseph enrolled at Biola University, where he majored in computer science. Afterward, he worked for a while in the university’s information technology (IT) department, before enrolling in an M.B.A program at Georgia State University. During the transition between his undergraduate and graduate studies, his parents began talking to him about marriage. Agreeing that he was ready for marriage, Joseph provided a list of three attributes that he hoped his wofe would possess. The first and most important one was that she was a committed Christian, one who had a genuine concern for the spiritual needs of her country. Second, he wanted a wife who was tall (since he is relatively tall) and well educated, preferably in a technical field like engineering. Third, he hoped to find an intelligent, Christian wife who was willing to be a full-time mom and (eventually) caregiver for his parents. It was agreed that an upcoming trip that Joseph was planning to Hyderabad would provide the perfect opportunity for him to go looking for a bride.
 
As is customary in Indian culture, the parents were enthusiastic participants in the search for a spouse for Joseph. Typically parents will compile a short list of two or three of the strongest prospects, but given Dr.Vijayam’s extensive networks and contacts, it was with some difficulty in Indian culture, many family members accompanied Joseph for the interviews. Indeed, it was practically a caravan that included Joseph’s parents, his three sisters and their husbands, his nephews and nieces, and even a high school friend. The caravan went from town to town, meeting a few young ladies here and another few ladies there.
 
An important feature of the spouse selection process is the background check. A couple of days prior to the introductions, both parties are provided with what is essentially a dossier on the other person: the family’s history (on both the father’s and mother’s sides), their professional and educational backgrounds, their financial standing and so on.
 
The introduction to Suneetha was saved for last, partly because she lived more than two hundred miles away, and partly, Joseph suspects, because she was the one his father was most impressed with. Her father was an electrical engineer, her mother was a schoolteacher, and many of her aunts and uncles were equally well educated. In high school she received a medal of honor from the state government for being the top mathematics student in her school, and her scores in other subjects were equally impressive. She graduated from a premier engineering school in India and at twenty-one she had a prestigious job working for the government as an electrical engineer. Even more interesting from Joseph’s perspective was the letter of recommendation from her pastor. Brought up in a nominally Christian home, she was the first to be born again and baptized at an evangelical church. Her faith blossomed, and one by one she led everyone else in her family to Christ.
 
Joseph vividly recalls his introduction to Suneetha: “When we entered her home, I could tell this was different. There was a peace that I didn’t experience in others.” For the first time, Joseph wanted a private interview. So while everyone else made small talk, Joseph and Suneetha went into another room and proceeded to get to know each other better. Joseph had three pre-prepared questions. The first had to do with his parents. Joseph was the only son, and the responsibility of taking care of them in their old age would someday fall on him. Was she willing to partner with him in that responsibility? The second had to do with where they would live. Many Indians attended university in the United States with hopes of becoming naturalized citizens and making lots of money. Joseph, on the other hand, felt called to be a tentmaker in India. Would she be happy under those circumstances? The third question was about her own career ambitions. Indian women are often as career-minded as the men, but Joseph wanted his wife to be a stay-at-home mom until their children grew up. Was she willing to set her own career goalsa aside and fulfill that role?
 
Her response to all three questions was yes, but her answers came so easily that Joseph was not convinced. A few days later, he asked for another meeting with the family and with Suneetha. “I just wanted to make sure they were not flippant answers.” he recalls. After repeating the three questions, she insisted, “ Yes, I really meant yes. Those aren’t hard things for me to agree to.” That satisfied Joseph and the two become officially engaged.
 
THE LAUNCH OF OLIVE TECHNOLOGY
 
After completing his M.B.A. program Joseph accepted a prestigious job based in the Hyderabad office of a multinational consulting company. Almost immediately he was given an assignment in North India, at which point he realized that many of his assignments would require extended periods of time away from home and make it difficult to be involved in any ministries there. So he quit that job and was subsequently hired to be the CEO of a computer consulting company in Hyderabad. Yet while they agreed to his demands of a five-day work-week and limited office hours, he soon realized that his fiduciary responsibilities to the company and its shareholders made that impossible. The long hours would severely restrict his freedom to be involved in any ministries on the side. Frustrated, he quit that job too and began thinking about starting his own business, one specializing in the new Java programming language. At the time, Java was a relatively untested.
 
It was 1996 when Joseph launched what was that called Olive Advanced Technologies with the help of Mr.Veerappa and two Java programmers. The company’s first project was a Chinese-language Bible program called First Light that was produced for the fast-growing underground church in China. The program was a phenomenal success, both in the sense that it was one of the first applications ever created in Java, and, from a ministry perspective, because it was pirated freely and hence distributed widely among Chinese-speaking people. As a consequence of that project, Olive became the first India-based company to be awarded Java certification from Sun Microsystems and was signed as an Independent Software Vendor for IBM’s Java platform.
 
About Olive Technology
 
By 1999, the company was generating about $300.000 in annual revenue, mostly from small ministry projects like the Chinese Bible. Still this was no small sum in India-10 million rupees-and it represented an important psychological milestone for Joseph and his now twenty member team. At that point they felt like they had reached the critical mass necessary to establish an office in the United States. SO in the summer of 2000, Joseph flew to the States and raised $225,000 from three investors to launch Olive Tech USA. 
 
After hiring a CEO for the U.S. operations, he returned to India, but by December that company was broke and the CEO had to be laid off. “We didn’t have a single penny of revenue to show for that investment,’he recalls.
Undaunted, Joseph and his team in India pressed on. The Lord provided enough business to keep the company afloat, in spite of the bursting of the “dot-com bubble” in early 2001 and the terrorist attacks in the United States later that year. Still, with revenues low and even falling, Joseph knew that the company would not survive without a U.S. presence, so in April of 2002 he moved his family to Denver for four months. That was long enough to pick up a few clients and stabilize the company.
 
Like any rapidly growing business, it became necessary to reorganize the company into distinct and more narrowly focused operations. The holding company is India-based Olive Technology Limited. Its subsidiaries include following:
1. Olive Technology (USA): The purpose of this company is to build the Olive brand and provide marketing and sales services for its sister companies. It is the company’s eyes and ears” in the North American market, and is headed by Joseph Vijayam
2. Olive Networks (India): This company takes the lead in building new web-based applications and database projects. Its CEO is Rudy Pandya.
3. Olive InfoServices (India) : This company’s focus is on the maintenance of applications and websites. Mr.Veerappa is the CEO of this company.
4. PT Olive Technology (Indonesia): This is a joint venture between Olive Technology USA and an Indonesia IT company. Under the leadership of Meity Anggraini, this company serves clients in Southeast Asia while working closely with Olive’s executive team in other parts of the world.
 
The parent company is owned exclusively by Christians, and Joseph and his board of directors are determined to keep it that way. However, he is a bit more pragmatic when it comes to the management and ownership of the subsidiaries. For example, Olive InfoServices is managed by a devout Hindu. The rationale for this has seceral starting points. One is Joseph’s firm belief that a truly world-class provider of IT services can itself be pleasing to God, so long as the managers are not corrupt or hostile to the Christian faith. Joseph also complains that : it is increasingly difficult to find well-qualified people who are also Christian. 
 
On the other hand, he has seen many instances where nonbelievers, after being exposed to authentic Christianity in a marketplace setting, become believers themselves, sometimes secretly and sometimes very publicly. SO he isn’t reluctant to hiring nonbelievers, or helping them grow into positions of greater responsibility.
 
The company expresses it commitment to leadership development in a simple word : “Olivian.” Simply put, an Olivian is someone-Christian or not- who has been with the company for at least two years and in all likelihood has turned down other job offers during their time at Olive. 
 
Joseph confesses that “I have no idea this and in many other ways, they are employees who stand out, and who consistently demonstrate their desire to be part of the Olive team. For those fifteen or so middle managers, the company holds regular retreats. Given that these employees, including some from each subsidiary, are rarely in the same office at the same time, the retreats are a time for team building, reporting on their latest challenges or successes, and “ironing out any dysfunctions,” as Joseph diplomatically puts it. They strive for as much transparency as possible and withhold nothing from this core group of managers. The goal is for these managers to be “ a little more focused on the bigger picture and trying to explore newer markets and new technologies.”
 
Joseph credits Rudy for taking the lead in the area of leadership development. “He is very passionate about building leaders,”he adds. “I think it is one of his spiritual gifts.” When asked whether he is concerned about creating the impression that employees can only reach the highest levels of management if they are Christians, Joseph points to example of Mr.Veerappa, a devout Hindu who not only cofounded Olive with Joseph, but is CEO (though not owner) of Olive Info Services.
 
THE MINISTRY OF OLIVE TECHNOLOGY
 
As a ministry, Olive Technology seeks to glorify God in the marketplace and advance the cause of Christ at home and abroad. Initially the vision was for it to be primarily a facilitator of other ministries through the provision of technology services, human resources and finances. But over time it has become much more that that as the management team has played a direct role in ministry.
 
Joseph’s first efforts at using his business to promote missions involved three technology-related initiatives. As one of th first Indian companies to have its own dedicated web server, Olive provides free website hosting and secure email services for Christian ministries in India through Indiagateaway.net. 
 
Through another website called Mahalife.com (translated “the Great Lofe”), the company partners with local ministries to operate a pre-evangelistic website for Indian youth. The site, which is becoming increasingly popular with Indian youth in urban areas, is a place where people can anonymously visit and share their troubles, or search for answers about the deeper questions of life, For those seekers who want to interact with a real person, counseling is available at the click of a mouse, a freeservice provided by ministry partners. 
 
The success of Mahalife has let Joseph and his team to launch yet another website named MahaJesus.com which takes seekers to the next level. The third initiative is an annual conference named Connecting. Through Technology that brings together ministry leaders from across the county to learn how to more effectively use technology and best practices in management.
 
On a personal level, there are many examples of the impact Olive is having in people’s lives. Joseph recounts the story of one man in particular, Ravi, who worked for Olive for several years before accepting a job at another company. Rudy stayed in touch with Ravi and his wife, and eagerly followed the progress of their first pregnancy. Sadly the baby was born with severe medical problems. Rudy and other Olive staff visited the family often, offering encouragement and prayer, until the baby died a month later. 
 
Not long after, Ravi asked if he could come back to work for the “Olive family”. As he explained, “ I started realizeding what family this (company) is when my ex-colleagues at Olive spent time with me during the darkest days of my life.” While there was no obvious commitment to follow Christ afterward, we believe such outreach is no less pleasing to God.
 
In another case, the company accountant, a Hindu became seriously ill with what appeared to be an incurable condition of the liver. His outlook was extremely grim and he wasn’t expected to live long, much less return to work. The management team considered hiring a replacement, but chose to hold off and pray for his recovery. In business terms, it was a high stakes gamble. This was a critical position that was left unfilled. They didn’t hire a replacement until the accountant passed away. Even in the last few hours of his life, Joseph and Suneetha were at his bedside in the hospital. Joseph believes that the gospel message was accepted by this man :just in the nick of time.”
 
In many other ways, the faith of the senior managers is obvious, but never imposed on anybody. From time to time an employess might convert to Christianity, but often they do so secretly. Joseph remembers one case in particular where valued manager left the company to move another part of the country. Several weeks later, she sent an email to Joseph asking for help finding a church in her area. Joseph says, : I have seen people that are least expected to convert from a sociological perspective (high-case, orthodox Hindus for example) become believers.”
 
THE JOURNEY
 
Perhaps the most instructive ministry story is Joseph’s attempt to start a church in Hyderabad. From the very beginning he had a desire to see the upper-and middle class business professionals in Hyderabad come to Christ. Like other parts of India, the cast majority of missionary activity in his city was taking place among either the Dalits or the lower caste peoples. For middle-class Christians there was an Anglican church, but it was not “seeker-friendly”. Formal and somewhat dry,”it was not the kind of church I would bring my unbelieving friends to,” Joseph says with a chuckle.
 
During the end of his family’s year long temporary stay in the Unites States in 2004, his pastor asked,” What is the thing you’ll miss most about America?” Suneetha and Joseph both agreed that they would miss the church the most  : its contemporary music, its “phenomenal” reaching and the rich fellowship. 
The pastor countered with a challenge: “Maybe God will lead you to start a seeker-friendly church at home.”
 
Back in India, with the seed now firmly planted, Joseph began talking to friends about the idea. Most had seen to the States before and knew what kind of church he was talking about. They were all supportive of the idea and began to strategize. At the time, Olive as renting a large guesthouse in a posh, wealthy neighborhood as a place for out-of-town guests to stay.
The neighbors included movie stars, business leaders, and other wealthy and/or famous people. This was the perfect place to launch such an outreach. 
 
The group began hosting an open house every Saturday night where neighbors could meet each other (often for the first time), and either watch an apologetic video or discuss topics like “What is success?” Christian books and other materials were made readily available to all who are interested. They called their little fellowship “The Journey.”
 
During the trip to the US in 2005, Joseph shares his vision with a group of fifteen pastors who were planting churches of their own in Dallas. A few days later he received a call from John Worcester, one of the leading figures in the U.S. church-planting movement. Impressed, John and his wife Dianne flew out Hyderabad a few weeks later for the first of several visits over the next couple years.
 
In time, other Christians started to learn about the Journey and started attending regularly because they liked the format. Nonbelievers attended regularly too. When attendance increased to between fifty and one hundred people, they moved the meetings to Sunday nights on a college campus. The meetings started including things reminiscent of a regular worship service, like singing, a worship band and a sermon. The biggest challenge at his point was finding a full-time pastor to lead the church. The group members volunteered on weeknights to distribute fliers around the neighborhood, set up and tear down the worship center on Sunday nights, and make other contributions, but there was no one to consistently prepare sermons or follow up inquiries from visitors. 
 
Because the Christians already had churches they belonged to, “nobody thought of it as their church,”laments Joseph.
They had several offers from people who were willing to pastor the church. But none fit their idea of an ideal pastor: an Indian national who had a background in the business world or in a technical field. 
 
There were offers from business-trained Americans and seminary trained Indians, but they were not able to find an Indian with a business or technical background. Eventually they hired an Indian man who was a seminary graduate and had spent his whole life involved in ministry. But he was never able to be the bridge they were looking for, a bridge between the marketplace and the church. Nonbelievers would try to engage the pastors by inviting him to their home or office, but “it never happened,” says Joseph. “The comfort level was not there.”
 
After about fourteen months it was obvious that it was a bad fit, and the pastor was released for ministry elsewhere. Soon thereafter Joseph and his family moved to Colorado Springs for a two-years effort to grow the U.S. side of their business.
All was not lost on the evangelistic outreach front, however. Since their initial attempt to start a church, two big denominational churches have moved into the area and are offering services in a seeker-friendly format. Some of the non-Christians attend services there. “The Journey acted as an entry point for them,” says Joseph. In addition, some of those who attended the Journey continue to keep the original vision alive, working with a small group of about twenty-five to thirty young professionals who are meeting on Saturday nights again in an informal format. 
 
Joseph describes it as “more than a Bible study but not quite a church.” They recently hired someone to work in a pastoral role, and Joseph is hopeful that this effort will be a longer lasting and more fruitful one.
 
FUTURE PLANS
 
Now that Olive has established itself as a truly world-class IT company, it faces different kinds of challenges. One is preserving its competitive edge. Only a few dozen companies worldwide have achieved some of the certifications that Olive has achieved. More than half of those companies are industry giants based in India. Olive’s smaller size and flexibility companies in terms of its technical capabilities. The company recently added the designation of “Official Google Reseller” and Microsoft Certified Partner to its growing list of certifications, and it is hoping to receive SEI CMM certification in 2010. “Only time will tell,” says Joseph, “whether [seeking higher levels of certification’ has been a foolish decision, but my hope is that once these things are in place, we’ll be poised for some phenomenal growth in the coming years.’
 
Another challenges is raising up a new level of leadership. As mentioned earlier, the company has been intentional about increasing its transparency and allowing its middle managers to participate more directly in the strategic planning process. Yet while strategic planning is good, the are careful to wait for God’s timing as well. This brings us to the third challenge: distinguish between the good business or ministry opportunities and the best ones. Rather than expanding into new markets on its own, Olive is keeping a watchful eye on invitations that come from outside the company. 
 
For example, the company recently established a joint venture in Indonesia, and is exploring possibilities in other countries as well.
 
ASSESSMENT AND CONCLUSIONS
 
We first met Joseph in 2000 and 2001 when we were conducting research for the first edition of this book. After careful consideration we chose not to include Olive Technology as a case because (1) it was a relatively young and unproven company, and (2) Joseph saw Olive’s primary role in the kingdom as providing funding and technological support for other ministries. His views of business as a God-pleasing ministry in its own right were still evolving. Over time his views have matured greatly, and he now sees them as an integrated whole, as something not easily compartmentalized.
 
Today Joseph is widely recognized as one of the leaders in the Business as Mission movement. Similar to John Larson’s best practices, Joseph has developed a list of “Kingdom Business Principles” that he believes are critical; to the success of any BAM initiative. They include the following :
 
- When setting goals, let Matthew 6:33 be the guide
- Wait on God for guidance into the business-ministry of his choice
- Allow God to select partners who identify with the same God-given vision and objectives
- Reinvest profits into ministries and business in the same way, under God’s guidance.
- Commit to developing your employees, partners, suppliers and customers, and to promoting the public interest.
- Raise up a second line of leadership so that you can be free to participate in other ministries.
- According to your ability, undertake kingdom tasks that bring no commercial benefit
- Resolve inevitable conflicts between business and ministry through prayer and faith
- Resolve in advance to choose the kingdom if a conflict between kingdom commitments and business interests becomes irresolvable.
 
Like others profiled in this book, Joseph is humble, transparent, and genuinely seeks to put his faith and his family first. He has found ways to turn his company’s relatively small size into a competitive advantage, and he is extending the company’s influence beyond his own culture. He also actively seeks ways to partner with and promote other ministries, especially those ministering to the poorest and least reached peoples of the world. He is cultivating a new line of leadership for the business and is helping inspire and mobilize the next generation of kingdom professionals. He does all these things with an uncommon degree of intentionality, and we hope his story will inspire others to do the same.
 
Sumber: dikutip dari buku Great Commission Companies: The Emerging Role of Business in Missions Oleh Steven Rundle,Tom A. Steffen