A mission team of business owners strike the perfect mix of enterprise and exhortation in Chengdu.
Contributed By Jeremy Chua
Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province is rich in Chinese history, and yet at the same time an economically progressive city. Amongst the top ten Chinese cities to invest in, as well as the fourth most livable city in China, there is no doubt that Chengdu is a strategic economic hub. And the people of Chengdu know how to play hard while working hard—Chengdu is colloquially known as “China’s party city.”
In a city where business opportunities abound and economic influence increases, people are wanting more in terms of connectedness and fulfillment.
From Aug. 20 to 25, a business group known as the Marketplace Ministry traveled to Chengdu with the purpose of extending its footsteps in establishing a new base for business exchange and building a platform whereby Christian businessmen can network with each other for business opportunities as well as resource and idea sharing, fellowship and inspiration. Above and beyond the purpose of business, the visit was to extend love, care and friendship to the businesspeople in Chengdu, in particular, the Christians.
Formed as a ministry of City Harvest Church, the Marketplace seeks to build networks of support, both spiritual and moral, for its business members all over the world (namely Xiamen, Hangzhou, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, and Taiwan) via the teaching of godly values in the areas of business, education, civics, arts and media. It accomplishes these through its core activities comprising business luncheons, workshops, seminars, networking sessions, mentoring and overseas mission trips such as this one to Chengdu.
There to welcome the team was Jessie Lim, the Marketplace’s representative, who is a Singaporean based in Chengdu for seven years managing her advertising and event management company, and Lu Ya Lan, a School of Theology graduate who is the president of a top local eye hospital—Century Ophthalmology Hospital.
The team wasted no time in getting into the thick of the action. Goh Yock Kiang, one of CHC’s pastors and the person heading the Marketplace, preached in a local church for their weekly service on Sunday. The team saw close to a fifth of the congregation responding to the altar call, giving their hearts to Jesus Christ for the very first time.
On Monday, the team set out to visit the companies and factory sites belonging to the local church members. This was done with the intention of mutual encouragement and learning from both parties concerning business challenges, strategies for growth and marketing, managing cost, supply chain management, branding and innovation, among others. They also explored the possibilities of potential collaborations.
|PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARKETPLACE MINISTRY|
The trip proved to be an enriching experience for the team, having visited companies from various industries, ranging from the information technology industry, automotive industry, to the health and wellness industry, as well as the food and beverage line. Besides seeing how these businesses operate in China, they also made valuable contacts through networking, creating potential business opportunities.
On Tuesday night, a businessmen’s meeting was arranged for the first time, which saw over 100 people gathered together to sit under the sharing of the Marketplace team. Gary Khoo, managing director of The Spectacle Hut, and his wife Sara, shared their inspiring testimony about how God blessed their business when they began to tithe to God through obedience. By incorporating godly principles and practices, they broke through in their business from having just one shop in 1997 to becoming the largest optical retail chain in Singapore (with more than 40 branches in Singapore and multiple branches overseas). They also touched on the topic of paying taxes in obedience to the Word of God, and how God honored them back by multiplying their return on investments.
Giving the business-people food for thought, Goh challenged the crowd to view their businesses in a different perspective. Drawing a parallel to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Goh shared that Eden represented jobs, careers and responsibilities. As Eden means “joy” and “fulfillment” in Hebrew, he exhorted that a person’s job and career in the marketplace should bring joy and fulfillment, rather than dread and burden. He also stressed that businesses run by believers ought to reflect the values of God in the marketplace.
The team clearly brought a fresh move of God into the midst of the business-people of Chengdu. Amongst them was Candy Guo, mid 40s, a prominent business-woman in Chengdu’s F&B industry as well as furniture industry, and Susan Yan, owner of one of the largest IT malls in Chengdu, as well as chairperson of several organizations in the city (see box story).
The team members themselves were blessed by what they saw and experienced in Chengdu. Said Li Chuan, chairman of ERG Film, “I was very touched to know that there are many Christians in Chengdu who are ‘on fire’ for God. I am very moved to see their passion for the Holy Spirit’s touch during the meetings.”
Said Larry Teo, executive chairman of Pinnacle Motors, “The Christian business people in Chengdu have shown me that if we let God rule and take charge of our business and lives, He will bless us in every area of our lives.”