In my travels I have visited many
different kinds of markets, such as flea markets in Seville, black
markets in Belgrade, floating markets in Bangkok, the stock market in
Wall Street, the Covered Bazaar in Istanbul, the Ginza in Tokyo,
flower markets in Holland, fruit markets in Lyons, ancient “souks”
in Damascus, a deserted slave market in Santo Domingo, the Forum in
Rome and the great market of religious paraphernalia located in the
We are surrounded by marketplaces.
Some are literal markets, where money, goods and people flow freely.
Modern Western markets have grocery stores, cinemas, fruit vendors,
sporting goods suppliers, restaurants, fast food outlets, clothing
distributors, travel agencies, IT service centres, news agencies and
much more. Others are virtual markets, consisting of “places”
(such as the Internet) where people meet, work and play together.
Both are, in their own ways, modern equivalents of the ancient
“agora”, the locus of social intercourse.
If the Church of Jesus is to make an
impact in the postmodern world it must be centred here and speak the
language of the common man and woman. That is what Jesus did. That
was why He connected. That is what drove the early church and
“turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
Evangelist Billy Graham recently said,
“I believe that one of the next great moves of God is going to
be through believers in the workplace”. Christians everywhere
are being mobilized to by God to make a difference in their world of
In this series, we have addressed the
dual values that prevail in the Kingdom of God and the non-Christian
world around us. We have emphasized that all Christians are
full-time ministers for Christ, regardless of their occupation. We
have looked at the life of Jesus in a non-Christian world. Finally,
we have cited examples from the Bible that reveal how “ordinary”
people surrendered to God were able to make “extraordinary”
differences in their generations and continue to speak to ours. The
challenge is bridging the gap in our time and space.
the glory of Jesus Christ”
following is a true story of what one man was able to accomplish as a
Christian in the marketplace – or, rather, what God
accomplished through him.
Road is the shopping Mecca of Singapore. The vast majority of the
nine million visitors who pass through Changi International Airport
each year end up in the shopping malls of Orchard Road where the
lights and sounds create a shoppers’ paradise. The strip is
also a popular destination for Singaporeans.
One of the most impressive buildings
in Orchard Road is a department store called Tangs,
adjacent to the Marriott Hotel. Few visitors know the story of this
landmark that has come to be regarded as a Singaporean shopping
institution. It is worth recounting.
was created by Tang Choon Keng. Initially selling door-to-door from
a hired rickshaw, CK Tang built a retail business worth millions of
dollars. He opened his first store on Singapore's River Valley Road
in 1934, quickly establishing a reputation for stocking traditional
the late 1950s he decided the time had come to expand and against the
advice of friends in business he brought a small of land on the then
unfashionable Orchard Road. Business boomed. In the early 1980s the
Orchard Road store was expanded to more than 15,000 square metres and
five floors of shopping space.
son of a Presbyterian preacher, CK Tang was a committed Christian and
until he passed on control to a new generation his store was the only
one in Orchard Road to be closed on Sundays. This was so that his
staff could go to church. Tang used to say that his success was due
in part to honesty, integrity and value for money. But he and his
wife were also open in declaring that the main reason he did well was
the blessing of God. Long before the emergence of Singapore’s
mega-churches, Tang unashamedly shared his faith with friends and
business colleagues. The retail industry was literally his
“marketplace”, where he believed God called him to serve
Tang would meet with his staff and
share his faith in Christ. He would encourage them to seek God’s
will for their lives and put integrity into their decision-making and
honesty into their inter-personal relationships. He was a great
believer in people knowing their God-given vocation and pursuing it
because the calling carried its own enabling. He would pray with
fellow-Christians in the business. Tang believed God would give them
strength and ideas to become what He planned, if they would put aside
time to listen to His voice.
On 4 September 2000 CK Tang died. He
was 100 years old. One life. Soon past. But what Tang did
continues to speak to our generation. A plaque in the congested main
thoroughfare, overlooking the corner of Orchard and Scotts Roads says
it all and is a reminder to us of what the surrendered life can
accomplish in peoples’ lives for eternity.
LATE MRS TANG SOK KIAR
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
will be your
legacy in your