The legal attorney was bemused when this young man walked into his office and asked that his company’s incorporation papers be made for him, and that 51% of his company shares/profits should go to God! This was the second attorney’s office that he was entering today. The first attorney had told him to think it over for 3 months before taking such a serious decision. Then, the second attorney was saying the same thing. He insisted on staying in the second attorney’s office till the man decided (against his own professional judgment) to do for him what he wanted. That was how he turned over 51% of his business profit to the Lord, and so made God his senior partner in business, literally.
Stanley Tam was born in the year 1915 just outside San Francisco, California. His family included a retinue of men who were always full of great ideas, but never able to break through financially. Stanley was to face the same challenge as he grew into a man.
Giving His Life to the Lord
Stanley’s family moved to Lima, Ohio, in his teens where he grew up for almost the rest of his life. In the year, 1933, while he was out selling products from house to house, he encountered a woman who spoke the word of salvation to him in a very clear manner. The discussion troubled him so much that six weeks later, he walked into the church and surrendered his life to Christ.
“I want to be Rich”
Like every other young person, Stanley wanted to be rich. He wanted to control a lot of wealth, and not be poor. So, he tried many ‘get-rich-quick’ means along the way. After many failed attempts at getting rich, he finally landed a job at a local filling station as a manger, at the age of 20. One day, he failed to get in a report on time (as at when due), and the filling station fired him. For Stanley, that was a good thing as he could not have considered going into business again, were it not that he was fired by the filling station.
About this time, Stanley came across a business idea that he was sure would make him rich – silver collection from photographic plates. He would reach out to photographers all over the country with some silver collector materials which they dipped into their photographic liquids; and so, over the space of 4-6 months, the silver will gather on those collectors; and when this was full, Stanley will come to collect those silver-filled collectors so that he can reclaim them and sell them in the market. That way the photographers made some extra money from what would be considered waste, and Stanley, too, also made his own money.
Turning to the Lord
At some point, Stanely came to a dead end in the business, as things did not move at easily as he wanted it. It began to look to Stanley that the business was going to fail, and that the silver collecting business was not going to work. One day, as he was driving home in his car and talking to God about his business which was about to fail again, he heard the Lord’s voice in his heart.
“Stanley,” the Lord said, “it doesn’t have to be this way; you don’t have to fail in this business. Turn it over to me and I will fix it.” That day, Stanley made a promise to God that if the Lord will make the business to succeed, he will honour him in every way he possibly can. With that, he came back home and asked his father for some extra financial support in business. His father told him that he will give him all he had, and he gave him $12. Adding an extra $25 which he had already, making it $37, Stanley started out again in the business, with such a small capital, but now, his faith and trust was in the power of God. He promised the Lord never to borrow to grow the business, but to trust God for provision as he leads. That way, the Lord began to move in States Smelting and Refining Co., and for a man who had pledged to honour God in every way he possibly could, the doors of creativity and grace were unlocked, and Stanley was moved to go the extra-mile in all that he did in order to bring glory to God. Little by little, the business grew as Stanley continued in his quiet trust in God.
Love matters and Giving God 51%
With time, Stanley came across a beautiful young girl whom he fell in love with, and proposed to her.January 21st, 1939, they got married. They moved on with business and family life, moving about in their house trailer while Stanley went on with his business. The Lord continued to prosper the business to the point that the couple were able to move into their new home.
In the midst of it all, Stanely Tam grew in his relationship with God. One day, the Lord began to remind Stanely of the promise which he had made to him earlier in the business to honour him in everything. That was when he sensed God would have him give out his company shares to God. After much prayers and talking it over with his wife, he went on ahead to craft his incorporation papers, giving God 51% of his business profits. That way, the Stanita Foundation was stared, and 51% of the company’s profits went to local missions through the foundation. Instead of then living to make rich, Stanley began to live his life to the honour of God.
His company grew to the point of building a property of their own, and by the walls of the company, the words, “CHRIST IS THE ANSWER” were crafted in bold writings and lighted at night. Each mail which the company had to send out always included a Gospel tract or scripture quotation, and the company has continued to do this for over 70 years of existence. Not only that, Stanley continued to lead others to Christ through his own personal witness, and he saw to it that his family (of four girls) grew in the fear of God. Two nights in a week, he would go out with Christian films and go house to house witnessing to them for Christ; and also helped set up a radio station in his county where people could hear the word of God. The radio station, WTGN, continues today in Lima Ohio, reaching out to the nations with the Gospel of Christ.
Work with One Mission Society
One day, a friend of Stanley came to see him, and told him of the need for to know more about missions and what God was doing with men around the world. He was hesitant at first, but later agreed to follow his friend to the mission field. The missionary society he went out with, then known as the Oriental Mission Society, was founded by Chas Cowman, with the intention of reaching every home in Japan with the word of God. He organized a team of missionaries who spent 9 years or there about reaching out to every home in Japan with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This led to tens of thousands of conversions, and caused over 400 churches to be started in Japan. This gave birth to the vision known as ECC – Every Community for Christ.
Stanley was moved by what he saw. By that time, the ECC program had been stopped because of lack of funds. So, Stanley called the leaders and made an offer to them – “If I could trust God to provide $50,000 or more per year to give you, would you again start the ECC ministry?” They said yes! This was how the ECC began again and many more souls in several countries were won to the Lord.
“I want Everything!”
During a speaking trip to South America in 1955, the Lord made a new demand to Stanley Tam. This time around, he was no longer asking for a percentage, he was asking Stanley to give him everything! To turn over the entire business to God. This decision was difficult for Stanley. He struggled with it for 2 weeks, until while asking God for a scripture confirmation, he saw the parable of Jesus in Matthew 13 vs. 45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” That morning, Stanley Tam said yes to God. A man who was the owner of a business now became an employee. The business was fully God’s own, and Stanley would only earn a salary from it for the rest of his life. It took him 3 weeks to finally tell his wife, but she let it be. She too knows the Lord, and if the Lord demands it, so be it.
The Birth of U. S. Plastics
The transition of the business from silver smelting to plastics was somehow accidental. The company had shifted their silver collecting technology, and instead of using those old silver collectors, they were now using an electronic silver collector supplied in plastic tanks. Then the world of plastics was just gaining momentum. With time, people began to demand for plastics, not just for silver collection, but for other purposes. The demand for plastics grew so much until one day someone wrote to them and told them to consider turning into a plastic industry. After prayers and much considerations, the United States Plastics Corporation was born. The business grew in leaps and bounds and God prospered his work. In all that he did, Stanley was careful to ensure that he was accountable for the finances that passed through this company and through his hands, since it was now God’s own. He would demand accountability from all the ministries that he gave to.
Today and Tomorrow
All that God used Stanley Tam to build, where are they today? The U. S. Plastics continues in the legacy set by Stanley Tam. They are still in business, moving, planning and making money. However, as a firm, they continue to give out 100% (you read that right) of their profit to missions and the spread of the good news.
The WTGN radio continues today in Lima Ohio, their vision of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth continues. They have not backed down, neither are they planning to.
The ‘Every Community for Christ’ ministry, powered by the Oriental Missionary Society (now One Mission Society) continues till day. With missionary teams in now over 50 countries and there has been over 1.2 million recorded decisions for Christ through this ministry.
And as for Stanley Tam, he is still very much alive! Though his wife, Juanita Tam, died in 2006. Stanley is over 106 years old now, and has retired from his business. However, he continues to live in Lima Ohio, doing his wood working business, receiving businessmen from all over the world and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them. Also, in his retire home, he continues to welcome teenagers in and to teach them the word of God. He has been speaking to teenagers for over 18 years now and has led hundreds of them to the Lord. Till now, he is still firing for the Lord, and using his life to lead others to Christ.
Now, what about you?
The life of Stanley Tam was a great challenge to me. I saw myself questioning if I have even begun this journey with God. Here is a man who was just a business man, but only heaven can tell the true story of how many souls he had won to the Lord. I see many of us today who our businesses and enterprises are the reason why we do not have time for God. We have no records in years now of souls won to the Lord, nor do we have records of people we are discipling for Christ. Yes, we may be holding business seminars, doing empowerment campaigns, awareness campaigns and all those things that we use to soothe our consciences; but are we preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I wish that more business men, including I, can take this extraordinary step of turning over our businesses to the Lord. This may not necessarily mean doing it exactly the way Stanely did it, but we must start from somewhere.
Remember that it in the end, what we acquired or achieved will be forgotten; but what we did for Jesus with our lives, our days and our possibilities will last for all eternity.
I conclude with a quote from Stanley Tam’s biography, God Owns My Business, “My name is Stanley Tam. I’m a layman, a businessman. By many marketplace measurements I’ve succeeded in business. I like to sell, like to introduce new products, like to watch volume grow, like to make money. Recently the Dun and Bradstreet representative from our area went over our books and told me we had the most vigorous growth pattern of any comparable firm in our area. Right now, I’m giving careful thought to another of a succession of expansion moves in our two corporations.
But although my business requires long hours at the office and constant surveillance and promotion, buying and selling is really no more than an avocation with me. My first concern is to succeed as a Christian. Let me state that a bit more definitely. My prime effort in life is to be obedient to my God, to serve Him and bring credit to His name.”
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