Early in life Jason Fisher felt called to ministry. While in high school, his study of the Bible and church history, specifically the apostle Paul and the Moravians, inspired him to pursue tentmaking, the combination of business and missionary work. God had gifted Jason with the practical skills of an analytical mind and computer skills. While pursuing a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Memphis, Jason found time to serve on staff with Youth for Christ and a startup business; software development projects to help pay for school.
As demand for his software development services grew, Jason hired friends to keep up with demand. One of their projects for a local church became the EventU/ ServiceU event management platform used by churches and other organizations around the world. But in his heart, Jason wanted to be sharing the gospel overseas. He thought God was calling him to a closed country like Russia or China. At 25 years old, he had no idea how to make that happen.
One day, as Jason walked to his car after a business appointment, he found that his car had two flat tires. There, in the parking lot, another man helped him. The man who helped him was Warren Creighton, a very successful Christian businessman who was in Memphis for a board meeting. As they worked together to resolve the tire issue, the two men got to know each other and Jason began to understand why God had arranged the encounter.
In the midst of his business success, God had saved Warren. In some respects that radical turn led to several crises in his life. Warren used his influence to begin to take the gospel to the nations and found himself in Romania in the days following Communism’s fall. His business success in the country provided an open door to the most powerful men in the country. In business meetings, Warren would often share his testimony, and he always opened business meetings in prayer, sometimes praying the gospel for 10 minutes or more if he felt that there were unsaved people in the room that needed to hear it. He started the Romanian National Prayer Breakfast and initiated Bible studies in the Romanian Parliament. Warren was having an impact at every level of government.
Warren invited Jason to join him in Romania for a month. Bucharest’s Politehnica University was turning out thousands of talented programmers who had few opportunities to use their skills. During Jason’s visit, Warren and Jason met the dean of Computer Science at the Politehnica, Dr. Trandafir Moisa. Over dinner, they sketched out the details for a new business, Cornerstone Technologies. According to their back-of-the-napkin math, the business would break even if there were enough work for eight programmers and would be profitable at nine.
The only issue was that Jason was engaged to be married. He shared with Warren Deuteronomy 24:5, “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” Warren saw his point, and Jason returned to Memphis and enjoyed the bliss of marriage.
Almost exactly a year later, Warren called with the news that he had two customers ready to sign a two-year contract with Cornerstone Technologies, one needing four programmers and the other needing five. Jason and his wife packed up and moved to Romania. Providentially, as Jason was arriving, Warren’s family situation required him to leave. Jason had to step into some very large shoes, but the Romanians looked at Jason as Warren’s right-hand man, and by God’s grace (but not without some stumbles) Jason grew into the role.
During the dot-com boom Cornerstone employed 120 developers working for large multinational companies. When the dot-com era came to an end, Cornerstone spun off several software companies. As Jason meets with companies anywhere in the world, even in the U.S., he doesn’t hesitate to use the methods that Warren taught him to share the gospel with customers, vendors and employees.
More Than Bits and Bytes
Although Cornerstone has been Jason’s tech startup with the greatest impact, it’s not his only focus. Jason completed his Masters of Divinity while overseeing one of the spin-off software companies. After leaving that business he reconstituted Cornerstone and began helping others start kingdom businesses. His LinkedIn profile lists seven other startups that he’s currently involved in as founder, co-founder, board member, or chief technology officer.
Jason co-founded Highland Harvesters, an apple orchard in Ethiopia that is an encouraging example of the tentmaker model. After acquiring 150 acres of land, God amazingly provided 28,000 seedlings at the perfect stage of development (in August 2016). The orchard expects its first harvest in 2017. Already the business employs 100 people, most from unreached people groups who have been very closed to the gospel. Local evangelists have consistently been turned away from these villages.
Each workday begins with prayer and scripture reading. After a few months, the workers asked if there was some way that their families and friends could come and hear these “stories.” The orchard hosted a special event and brought in a local evangelist to tell the “stories,” sharing God’s Word with the lost. Six hundred people came to the event. It went so well that they invited the evangelist to come and live in their village. God is good!
Jason is a modern example of God’s sovereign calling: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ ” (Genesis 12:1-3).