4 July 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
Ronald Khoo, master franchisee of Mango Chili for Malaysia, Singapore & Indonesia at his flagship outlet in Nexus at Jalan Kerinchi, shared his remarkable journey of how God led him to start his restaurant.
The irony was when he let go of what he held secure (money and material); he discovered that the real security lies in God.
“I was holding on to money because it’s a security at that time. I guess my whole thinking is now a 180 degrees change. To me in the past, business is business; Sunday is Sunday. But the whole proceedings have totally changed me,” said Ron, who described his old self as a ‘Sunday Christian.’
“A friend once told me that if you cannot hear from God, He will find a way to get your attention and I guess this is the way He got my attention,” Ron added.
Ron went through trying times in one of his previous business due to clashing values between business partners, where he faced the prospect of losing everything. At that time, he felt immensely stressful, affecting his family. Finally, he decided to let go of his business because nothing beats the worth and well-being of his family.
“Naturally, I’m not a confrontational guy. So, if somebody comes up to confront me, it’s a lot of stress for me. I guess it was difficult. Nobody really understood what I was going through,” said Ron.
A friend brought him to the Healing Room in Glad Tidings PJ, where a group of believers prayed to God. It was the first time Ron could find peace and intimacy to the Lord in his heart, as the believers spoke Ecclesiastes 5:10 and Ephesians 5:9-11 to Ron there.
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. (Ecc 5:10 NIV)
(For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph 5:9-11 NIV)
During this course of time, the Lord also showed him through a dream of the bible verse of John 3:20.
If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20 NIV)
Perplexed with this verse as a young Christian, Ron asked his friends what this verse could mean. They told him to examine his heart and see what has become the Lord of his heart. The Lord was challenging him to either make the Lord his God, or Money as his god.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:22 NIV)
At that time, Ron was the president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) that provides network and support for successful entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
Whilst many people in EO were extremely helpful in supporting him through this crisis, he found the deepest comfort in the few believers-in-Christ at EO who prayed and uplifted him with encouragement.
“Bit by bit, God just met me anywhere I needed to be. I considered myself as a very young believer, even though I accepted Christ at 10 years old mainly through my parents’ faith. But I never really knew Jesus personally,” said Ron.
As a young believer, although he felt a transcending peace foreign in this world, he asked God for signs that he was making the right decision to sell his previous business.
The first sign he received was when he dreamt about George—a father figure who has been mentoring him in EO—saying to him that if he let go of his business, he would soar like an eagle.
After the dream, Ron asked for a second confirmation through a simple sign of getting a parking lot outside his accounting firm, a place notorious for being packed with double-parking cars. However, at the moment when Ron made that prayer, he found himself a clear parking spot, as if God has set aside that spot for him.
Two weeks before the official deal with his business partners, Ron again asked for a third confirmation sign in a form of an empty parking lot. Again, the Lord answered his prayers by emptying a parking lot spot, just when he was about to turn into a busy banking area in Petaling Jaya.
Although Ron knew that God wanted him to sell his shares, he was anxious because his business partners could choose not to buy him out of the business.
Hence, on the day of the meeting, a friend prayed for Ron in his church before he left for the negotiation.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6 NIV)
Another close friend in Tawau sent a brother-in-Christ to accompany Ron and intercede for him during the meeting. Hence, while the negotiation took place, this brother-in-Christ sat at the lobby, interceding in tongues for him while Ron was at the meeting.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Rom 8:26 NIV)
Although the meeting began in an atmosphere of hostility, it quickly resolved to Ron’s surprise. Within an hour, some resolutions were reached, far beyond his expectation. Praise the Lord!
“When I start to see the fingerprints of God, I just follow Him,” said Ron, who did not work for a while until God opened doors for him to start a new business.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Prov 16:9 NIV)
One day, Ron met up with his friend who had been running a Thai restaurant franchise in Malaysia, called Mango Chili. With a large stakes of shares in hand, Ron’s friend asked him to take over the management of Mango Chili and proceed in taking over the franchisee once the business becomes stable.
“The Lord no longer shows us the signs. When you are a young Christian, it’s okay. But after that, you got to learn how to discern properly.
“In the end, I offered a price for the franchisee, which I thought I could afford and prayed about it. My friend came back with a very good deal,” said Ron who currently owns the master franchise rights for Mango Chili in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
“In my mind already before this business, I already put a commitment to God, to find a way in my business to impact and bring in all the Kingdom principles. I already thought it out, ‘This business is owned by God and all Kingdom principles will be used for God’s glory,’” Ron added.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt 6:33 NIV)
He decided to do a Food for Good one-for-one program, whereby for every meal sold, one meal will be contributed to an underprivileged child. Surprisingly, the Mango Chili franchisor not only permitted this concept but also supported it. If this concept is successful, it might be replicated in other countries.
“Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. (1 Sam 2:30 NIV)
Nevertheless, there were hiccups in gathering investors to buy the Mango Chili franchise. An investor pulled out last minute. But the Lord provided.
A friend contacted Ron for three outlets.
Another friend was instructed by the Lord to invest specifically RM300,000 into the business. Due to circumstances he could only put in RM100,000. But what was more amazing was that this friend’s father suggested to invest another RM100,000 into Mango Chili (from the family funds) upon hearing about Ron’s business! This was a miracle because his father never believed in investing in other industries besides their core business itself, which the family is familiar in.
Nevertheless, Ron still needed a final injection of funds to make his business plan work.
Lacking still in a large amount of funds and various other challenges, Ron felt discouraged and was deciding to pull out from this project, as he was quite comfortable and did not need the hassle at that time.
Seeking solace from his friend Debbie over lunch, Dylan Wilk—once the ninth richest man in England below 30 years old and a brother-in-Christ—suddenly sent an email of encouragement to Ron.
In the email, Ron watched a video of Dylan addressing a crowd of 300 people at a social business summit in Manila. As the keynote speaker, Dylan explained to the audience how his friend Ron was feeling discouraged from his business, and his business concept of one-for-one program.
Asking if anyone would support and visit Ron’s restaurant if they came to Malaysia, the camera was directed to the audience who showed everyone lifting their hands. And turning the camera back to him, Dylan urged Ron to keep pushing and not to be discouraged. What a timely message of encouragement sent by the Lord!
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Prov 25:11 NIV)
The next day, a dear friend sent him a message to ask how he was doing with his business. Ron shared the video sent by Dylan to this friend. Touched by the video, one thing led to another, and Ron found his friend’s family committing the final need of the funds. Praise the Lord!
“After three months of hitting the wall, we got everything we needed in three days! God can really direct the hearts of men. What we perceive them to be against, suddenly they are for,” said Ron.
In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels towards all who please him. (Prov 21:2 NIV)
Running his business of Mango Chili for a few months now, Ron sticks strongly to two important concepts which is firstly, to defer to a higher authority, and secondly, to have zero corruption, which is to have complete integrity and transparency.
“My advice for young Christian entrepreneurs is… had I known Christ 12 years ago, my journey would be very different. I think the main thing is to defer to the higher authority on whether this calling is for us.
“We always think that this is a good business model, but that may be our thinking and not God’s thinking. That is my learning through the whole crisis. If I followed God’s way, my previous journey could have been more fantastic. But I don’t’ regret it because I can see that the experiences God wanted me to go through at that time, was meant to help me go through the amazing times now,” said Ron.
Indeed, as men, we can make plans but it is the Lord who directs our steps. (Prov 16:9) And unless we commit our work to the Lord, we would only work in vain and pain. (Psalm 127:1-2)
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.
(Psalm 127:1-2 NIV)
The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Prov 10:22 KJV)
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