David Ong, together with his wife, Serene, founded Reapfield Properties, a leading real estate agency in Malaysia. He is also the chairman of World Teach Malaysia, and is a board member of FCCI (Fellowship for Christian Companies International). David believes in conducting business with honor and integrity. He has a passion for the men’s ministry and discipleship, and is a wonderful example of a man who follows hard after God.
At a recent FCCI conference, David shared his testimony of how God turned his life around, and set him on a path towards righteousness. In light of the conference theme, “Success Through Righteousness,” David began his session by first relating his story of “Failure Through Unrighteousness.”
David grew up in a nominal Christian home. His mother had attended a mission school, his family history had some traces of Christianity, and he regularly attended Sunday School. But what he saw in his family at that young age was more of a religion and not much of a relationship with God. He did poorly in his studies, was not a motivated person. This also meant he eventually ended up mixing with the wrong company of people. He lost all sense of direction and purpose in life, and whatever his new friends did, he would follow suit. He began with tobacco smoking, and subsequently picked up marijuana which then led to heroin. “In 1974, I realized I was hooked,” David said.
David’s late father eventually found out about his addiction, and put him through a series of detox methods. He was put on medication, sent to a bomoh (witchdoctor) who chanted over him, was hospitalized, and institutionalized, but again and again, he would go right back to drugs upon release.
“It was a life of misery, as I look back on it.” David said. “It was a life of borrowing, shoplifting, waking up every day feeling droopy and wondering where I was going to get the money for my next fix.”
He was even sent to Penang at one point to undergo a rehab program ran by an ex-gangster chief, which was then, known to be very successful. But their methods of helping drug addicts were by beating them up. Instead of recovering, David got worse during his time there.
“I found out that in Penang, apart from the Asam Laksa and Char Kuey Teow being nice and cheap, heroin was also purer and cheaper! So I extended my network.” A psychiatrist then told him that he needed to get away from the toxic environment, and so he went to Singapore to live with some relatives.
He got better and returned to KL. But went back to drugs yet again. David decided to return to Singapore again. But this time, instead of getting better, he picked up the art of shoplifting to sell and buy drugs.
It was at this point that his mother was even more determined to be very prayerful in helping him. She sought the help of church leaders, and a meeting was organized at the Salvation Army in Singapore specially for him. About 5 or 6 ex-Changi prisoners shared with David about how their own lives had been transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Through the prison ministry in Singapore, their lives were transformed, and they asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus. I remember whispering a prayer and saying to God very quietly, ‘God, if You are really real, please show me.’ It was a sincere cry. Right after I said the sinner’s prayer, I felt a surge of joy bubbling inside me for a couple of hours. I told this ex-gangster chief who is now a missionary, ‘I am so happy!’ That was the best word I could think of.”
David came back to KL after accepting Christ, but still had relapses. “I really found Christ at my conversion, but I wasn’t strong enough. I really think that in our Christian life, it is very important to have a strong foundation. That’s why I am a firm believer in discipleship. I don’t think that once we accept Jesus as Christ and Savior and become a new creation, everything will turn out smoothly. It is a journey.”
David was then introduced to a Christian drug rehab centre ran by the Assemblies of God umbrella, called Joe’s Corner. Knowing deep inside that he needed help, he admitted himself into the centre, and while he was there, David went through a structured 2-year program of spiritual and character formation that was focused on the Word of God and Scripture Memory.
“It was so important for a person like me — how could I get out of sin, unless I had God’s Word in my heart that I might not sin against Him?” David said, alluding to Psalm 119:11.
At Joe’s Corner, the men were put into small groups where they had devotions and practiced community living. “I went through that journey and learned many things in my small group.” Their studies included systematic theology and topics like love vs. selfishness, fruitfulness vs. deception, wisdom vs. foolishness, forgiveness vs. bitterness, humility vs. pride, self-control vs. self-indulgence, faith vs. unbelief, obedience vs. wilfulness, etc.
“We had counsellors who were students from the Bible Institute of Malaysia, and they practiced tough love on us. As they spoke the truth in love to us, our lives were being corrected and though we felt the pain, yet we gained much from it.
“What happened to me while I was there is what I would call ‘God laying building blocks in my life.’ God wanted to build faith in us and as we memorized Scripture, my mind became renewed through the Word of God, and my heart began to change. I realized that God was more interested in whom I become rather than what I do. God wants us to be Christ-like.”
David began to learn how to apply Scripture in his life. Verses like Colossians 3:23 stuck with him, and it continues to guide his life today. Even when it came to menial jobs like cleaning the tops of kitchen cabinets, David was reminded that he was serving the Lord and did so excellently. “Some people said I was stupid, but I think that I was cultivating an attitude that came from the living Word. God’s Word really began to cause me to have an attitude that in anything I do, I would do with all my heart.”
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
David went on to share several incidents that took place over the course of the years following his changed life. As a young man starting out in the business world, David was encouraged to falsify documents and follow the ways of the world, but he chose to obey God — and God honoured his decision, blessing him richly.
Today at Reapfield Properties, the following value statement is boldly displayed on their wall: In God we trust. In family we cherish. In business we excel. Bro. David emphasizes the importance of honesty in leadership, saying that people will follow leaders they know they can trust.
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
David then went on to address some questions that were posed to him before the conference:
1. What deters Christians from applying biblical principles in their business practices?
“A Christian CEO, businessman, or worker, has the option to do things God’s way or the ways of the World. We are either biblical Christians or cultural Christians. A. W Tozer says this: ‘A whole new generation of Christians have grown up believing that it is possible to accept Christ without forsaking the world.’ The biblical Christian lives by the Word and council of the Holy Spirit and really truly believes that His ways are the best. That includes God being interested in our business.”
2. How do you juggle business, family, church, etc.? What is your daily routine?
“I believe in work life integration — meaning, Jesus is the center of our entire lifestyle. My usual routine is I spend time in prayer in the morning, I go for morning walks and I will pray and praise God. When I get back, I will spend time journaling because I find journaling slows me down so that I can meditate on God’s Word and hear Him. There are times when I walk out of my condo or the door of my room, I will tell the Holy Spirit, ‘Let’s have an adventure today! Allow me to know how you are working so that I might participate.’
“My relationship, friendship, and love for Jesus Christ come first, and I hope I can live up to this statement. I know that sometimes, this can be a challenge. But in my own journey, I have learned to really learn to enjoy God — as the Westminster catechism says, ‘The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’
“Are you enjoying your relationship with God? Or is it a life that is hectic — running around like a headless chicken, being so busy? Are you running on empty?
“My next priority is my wife, and then my children. Only after that come my friends, community, mentees, business associates, church members, etc. In all of this, the question that should be asked is, ‘What does the Bible say?’ Or, ‘What would Jesus do?’ God yearns to have fellowship with us, but oftentimes, we forget Him. It is also a rich experience to spend time with people. One of the best investments you can make is in loving your neighbor as yourself.”
It is through conversations with Jesus throughout the day and putting His Word into practice, and setting his priorities that David is able to integrate and establish a healthy balance of his many commitments.
3. What are marketplace temptations that Christians should look out for, and how can they be avoided?
“Billy Graham talks about the three G’s: Gold, Girls, and Glory. Gold is about money. If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, it is important that we put money in its rightful place. Oftentimes, business people like you and I get a rush with our deals, and we don’t know when to stop.”
Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
(2 Peter 3:11-13)
“Jesus said that life does not consist of the abundance of possessions. Don’t get me wrong — we all need to be very profitable business people. If I don’t do well, I would have no credibility when I talk to people in my field. But because they see our commitment to excellence in our work, people listen when I speak to them. I really think we should work at everything we have with all our heart unto the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Girls. In the workplace, sex is a big temptation. And this does not apply only to men. It is always a challenge, and many people can easily fall. Sin is dangerous. Sex is a beautiful thing — designed and created by God only for marriage. And when you sin, the pain will eventually bring destruction to the marriage and kill your other relationships. Put a safeguard around yourself. Understand that you are a sexual being and practice caution. Lust is a real feeling. But God commanded us to love, and love is not about using people.
“Glory is about pride, something I’ve observed — even in Christian men, who run around from one deal to another. Many people don’t stay close to God, don’t invest their time in the Word of God, and live in insecurity. They do not have the identity and self-worth that is found in Christ, and so they seek the applause of men. It is not a nice feeling to be looked down on, and so they go on and on and on, trying to prove themselves. Don’t ever say that it doesn’t affect you. We all have to be watchful and careful not to succumb to pride.”
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
(1 John 2:15-17)
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
“This psalm is a reminder that our days are numbered. Not in a negative way, but it’s like God is saying “You’ve got limited days, son. Make sure you invest into my Kingdom and be wise.” Rick Warren says this: ‘Life on earth is just a little bit of the top in preparation for eternity.’ I really think we need to be people of wisdom. We live in a world that wants to bombard us with their voices and their values, but we need to be running God’s race and not the rat race.”
Three things to focus our lives on in light of eternity:
- Love God
- Love People
- Love, know, and live out the Word.
4. How do I define what success means to God?
“Unless my name is written in the book of life, I will not be successful. I can gain the whole world and lose my soul to the everlasting torments of burning sulphur in hell. For me, what’s the point? It’s all about eternity. I think success to God means that in business, it is about stewardship and not ownership — God’s race, and never the rat race — a holy ambition instead of an unholy ambition. Reapfield is my mission field — my parish. I look at people as precious souls and I ought to treat them the way Jesus would.”
Another definition of success:
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
David also reminded the audience that Jesus only ever sought to do the Father’s will.
Before closing, Bro. David read aloud a letter from his daughter who had recently gotten married:
As I contemplated on what to get you for Christmas, I was at a loss when I realized that no amount of gifts or words could ever repay you for the sacrifices you have made for the family. I write to you to express my gratitude and thankfulness to you for being my father and for all you have done for me. The previous Father’s Day message that was shared from the pulpit really depicts who you are to us, your children. There were three points on what an effective father does, namely, he provides, he protects, and he points.
After the message was presented, I proudly shared to my cell group members that you truly embodied what it means to be an effective father. All these years, you have sacrificially provided for our family through various means and ways. Even throughout the financial crisis, I personally was not made aware of the depth of crisis that you were in because you had shielded us from the struggles that you and mummy were in. There was not a trace of lack of in any physical provision we had, and you and mummy constantly sought to provide us with the best, sacrificing your personal comforts and desires.
You have fearlessly protected and shielded us from the various forces and influences of the dark world. I am thankful that in protecting us, you managed to create a balance between being wise and discerning versus childlike futility. Thank you for providing a safe haven for us that we could call home. It was and still is a place I can always go to with an unmasked face and find peaceful rest. There is something about home that brings an indescribable sense of stability, certainty, and safety, and I know that these elements were fabricated because of your intentionality and love, and were covered with prayer and petitions.
More than the financial and physical aspects, you have pointed me toward Christ from a constant testimony of His work in your life, but more evidently, in the way of living. I recognize that my greatest inheritance from both you and mummy is the spiritual heritage we have, founded in Christ Jesus. You have faithfully trained us up in the way of the Lord, directing and pointing us toward cultivating an intimate relationship with the Lord.
My greatest need, that is the redemption work and saving grace, has been met through the friendship of Christ because you and mummy pointed us towards the ways and teachings of the only One who saves, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
I love you very much, and if the Lord gives us the privilege of being parents, I pray that Jared would be a father who emulates you.
“Money can’t buy that,” David said.
For 75 years from 1938, Harvard conducted a study on what makes a good life — meaning, what keeps us healthy as we go through life. The clearest message from this 75-year study is that good, satisfying, quality close relationships with family, friends, and community keep us happier, and therefore, healthy.
“As it turns out, this principle was written in the Bible years ago. Matthew 22:37 talks about loving God whole-heartedly and loving people fervently. The richest people in the world are not the ones with the most money, but the ones with the richest relationships.”
In conclusion, David shared the lyrics of an old song that truly reflects his sentiments:
How can I say, thanks
For the things You have done for me
Things so undeserved
Yet You gave to prove your love for me
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am and ever hope to be
I owe it all to thee
To God be the glory
To God be the glory
To God be the glory
For the things, He has done
With His blood, He has saved me
With His power, He has raised me
To God be the glory
For the things, He has done
Just let me live my life
And let it be pleasing Lord to thee
And should I gain any praise
Let it go to Calvary
|Share The Good News|