Greg Jones (GDCS, ’16) shares how God is using his entrepreneurial spirit and his skills to make a transformative impact in church and world.
To be honest, I didn’t give God much thought in my early years.
As a kid I dreamed of being a farmer. Despite growing up in Dartmouth, I completed a BSc (Agr) from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in 1985, hoping to realize that dream. After graduation, I felt that some business training might advance my career, and after a year of taking MBA courses at Dalhousie, I was hired by an international accounting/management consulting firm where I earned my chartered accountancy designation in 1991.
Since becoming an entrepreneur, I’ve discovered that I enjoy project-based challenges and have little interest in managing day-to-day operations. This characteristic has led to a career that has included: owning a landscape contracting company; establishing a chartered accountancy firm; owning a dairy and beef farm; building and operating a golf course; and buying and operating an apartment and assisted living real estate company.
I came to faith in my early 40’s after attending an Alpha course, but I was frustrated with my lack of knowledge about the overall story of the Bible. Wanting to be more intentional in my pursuit of Christ, I enrolled in ADC to take some courses.
In 2016, I completed the Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies. My time at ADC advanced my spiritual development, gave me a more complete and deeper understanding of different aspects of Christianity, and equipped me with the tools and confidence that I needed to serve more effectively in volunteer roles.
Then, I felt God’s prompting to combine my ADC training with my experience in the business world to serve Him.
In 2015, God opened a door for me to serve as a volunteer financial examiner with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB). It was a natural fit with my desire to serve and my training as a chartered accountant.
CFGB is a partnership of 15 church and church-based agencies working together to end global hunger. It is recognized now as one of the top ten impact charities in Canada. My role with CFGB was to travel overseas and conduct financial reviews of projects that were being funded by CFGB and its partners. Part of those assignments were to identify real and potential weaknesses in existing systems, and provide recommendations to improve internal control procedures, reporting, and accountability.
Over several years, I participated in financial reviews of projects in DR Congo, Burundi, Lebanon, Laos, Cambodia, Malawi, and Mozambique.
The Impact of Climate Change, Firsthand
In 2018, I joined a group of Canadians on a two-week CFGB learning tour in Malawi. The theme was to learn how climate change is impacting some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
In a society where families rely on the food they produce to feed themselves, crop failure often results in hunger, and climate changing is significantly increasing the amount of crops that fail.
For 3 days my wife and I lived with a Malawian farm family, learned their story, and saw first-hand how climate change was negatively affecting them and their neighbours.
Across Canada many farmers and volunteers grow crops to raise awareness and funding for CFGB, an organization that I have come to respect, and feel is part of my service. In 2016 I joined with volunteers in Truro to begin a 6-acre growing project. Over the next few years, we grew crops of corn, soybeans, barley, and canola.
Canadian Baptist Ministries provides promotional and administrative support and by 2021 Grow Hope Nova Scotia had over 40 acres in production. Although the final sales figures are not yet available for 2021, in 2020 we raised over $30,000 in crop sales and donations. Through an arrangement with the Government of Canada those funds are matched on a 3:1 basis, meaning CFGB will receive over $120,000 related to Grow Hope Nova Scotia for the 2020 crop. We expect we will surpass that amount for 2021.
Demographics, local and global events, an increasingly polarized society, and a rapidly changing culture create significant challenges for the church. They also create opportunity for churches willing to embrace the changes.
In mid 2017 I was part of a small group that dreamed of a new expression of church in Truro. We imagined a church environment that un-churched people would love to attend. This dream required us to accept risk, go against some norms regarding church structure and governance, and re-imagine how we could most effectively reach those who considered church irrelevant, if they thought of church at all.
It required innovation, a large team of volunteers and partnering with some other churches with the same vision to provide support and encouragement. And most importantly it required a steadfast reliance on God’s leading.
It was a natural fit for my entrepreneurial spirit.
I am hopeful for the future of the church as it finds new and creative ways to meet the challenges it faces. I am hopeful for the future of CFGB in its mandate to end world hunger. I am hopeful that humankind will use innovation and ingenuity to harness the renewable natural resources that God has created to combat climate change. And I am hopeful that God will continue to open new doors for me to serve Him.
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Greg lives in North River, NS with his wife Carol. They have 4 daughters, 2 sons-in-law and 5 grandchildren