6 June 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
Like Abraham who set forth for Canaan Land with obedience and faith, Canaanland Sdn Bhd was birthed from decisions to obey and have faith in the Lord. And despite its startup in 1992 at a later time than its contemporaries, Canaanland has four stores currently at Ara Damansara, Cheras, Menara TA and Bandar Utama.
Francis Lim Kah Hon, founder of Canaanland, started his journey with God when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit and desired to obey The Lord in everything he does.
Although he was working fairly well as a contractor and material supplier at that time, the industry has many grey areas. Besides, he was also unequally yoked with his non-believing business partner. Hence, to obey the Lord in righteousness, he decided to sell his company shares to his partner.
Instead of receiving a full payment, the payment slowly trickled in, which resulted in him re-entering the industry for income. He was able to keep his finances afloat but not until the recession in mid-eighties wiped out his savings. At that point, he considered migrating to Australia.
“I wanted to migrate for my children’s sake but after praying with a few Christian leaders, we felt that God wanted us to stay in Malaysia,” said Francis.
He was very confused until he made a firm decision to stay. God began to impress in his heart to use gift items to spread the Word such as through t-shirts, car stickers and posters, which carry the gospel message.
So, Francis started to import and manufacture good items with the little savings he had and sell them all over Malaysia and Singapore. He used his house as a warehouse for two years, before opening his first humble retail store in Bangsar Baru in 1992.
One day, a Punjabi Christian lady, named Madam Deepa Kaur, also a regular customer of Canaanland walked into his first store at Bangsar Baru and told him a vision God gave her.
“She told me that Canaanland would be housed in a multi-level building. But I could not see how her vision would come to pass. My store was so small, and so was my faith,” said Francis who brushed her vision aside until 15 years later when the prophecy came to pass.
In year 2006, he bought a five-storey building in Ara Damansara to house his current Headquarter office and two-level store, which opened in 2008. He completely forgot about the prophecy until a faithful bookstore patron asked if he remembered Deepa and her vision. Turned out, Deepa had been praying for him all these while!
“I completely forgot about it and quickly asked for Madam Deepa’s contact number. When the building was completed, I invited her to speak in the dedication ceremony,” said Francis.
Another way The Lord encouraged Francis in his early years was when Hillsong awarded the right to sell their albums through Canaanland, which was much smaller than the other Christian bookstores at that time.
But in 2007, they lost the contract, which was worrisome because Hillsong had been contributing considerably to their profit. But again, The Lord miraculously helped them to not only achieve their turnover but also go beyond it.
“The Lord says, I am the one who bring the increase, look at me and not to Hillsong. Trust in me completely,” said Francis.
Come 2011, the Lord extended Canaanland’s barn to keep more seeds. What started out as an endeavor for extra storage space, became a full extension of the Canaanland headquarter. A sister-in-Christ he bumped into referred him to a housing agent who successfully closed a deal for the next door corner lot five-storey building.
“The Lord is so good! The corner lot should sell at a price of ten percent higher. But, not only the seller did not raise the price, we got it at discounted price too!” said Francis.
The next hurdle was to get bank loans. The first bank he approached was Public Bank. Although the bank manager he knew was keen to help, the bank committee turned down his bank loan.
Due to the lost time, Francis asked the seller to give him an extension period of two more months, beyond the four months period he was already given to get his loan approved. If he failed, his down payment of ten percent will be forfeited. In a short time, he quickly approached three other banks before he left to Australia to visit his son.
“In Australia, I told my friends of my problem. And just before dinner, one of my friends stood up during dinner and say to me: Uncle Francis, I will give you this seed money and sow it prophetically into Canaanland, as a sign that the loan will be approved,” said Francis.
Two weeks later while he was still in Australia, he had a call from UOB bank informing him that the bank loan is approved—not a day earlier, not a day later—but on the last day of the interest-free period.
“Again, God is telling me to obey and have faith in him because as it turned out, I didn’t even need to ask for the two months extension,” said Francis.
Not only Francis is obedient in his work, he is also an obedient father. During his expansion, his oldest daughter, Karen Lim, quit her work in Citibank and helped him in Canaanland to his delight!
“I thought I could groom her to help me in the ministry but after ending a long-term relationship, she fell in love with the Lord again and desired to serve the Lord by joining YWAM in Africa, out of all places,” said Francis.
He tried to persuade her to stay to help him until one morning; his wife, Marjorie, reminded him that Karen was their first fruit. And when she was born, they made a prayer and covenant with God that she would be the Lord’s.
Hence, in obedience, he released her into the mission field, realizing his intention to keep her daughter was selfish. But when Karen left, the Lord surprisingly brought tremendous increase of manifolds to the business.
“I was really puzzled. Here I am trying to retain her so that the business can grow. But again, the business grew manifold beyond our expectation! The Lord is reminding me that again, it is He who brings the increase, not my daughter,” said Francis.
And now, not only Karen was blessed with a husband she met in YWAM, Francis also has Emilia, his younger daughter and her husband to help him currently in Canaanland.
“I am not planning to open any more bookstores. In fact, I am making plans to consolidate,” said Francis.
From the beginning, the Lord has impressed on him to have a mobile Christian bookshop on a three-ton truck, which purpose is to carry books to the outskirts and towns. He plans to partnership with local churches to set up the booth and make Christian books available to them. At the same time, he will also run leadership training for the church leaders, making it as a business-cum-ministry drive.
Passionate in making biblical resources available for everyone, a patron with a membership card can either get ten percent discount on purchases at the store or free delivery around Malaysia when ordered online.
“In the heart of hearts, Canaanland is a ministry. We run a business to make it profitable, so that it can run a ministry.”
“Our key verse is Matthew 6:33, seek ye first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you, reminding us to always look to God and serve His purposes. We serve Christ by serving our customers, which has translated to Canaanland’s tagline ‘serving Christ by serving you,’ said Francis.
To date, Canaanland has printed some 800,000 tracts for free distribution and another 40,000 tracts in foreign language.
A blessed man who has eight grandchildren now, Francis exudes incredible peace and joy as a businessman. It is evident that he is someone who does not worry because he put his trust on the Lord. And this trust allows him to obey and also have faith in Him.
Indeed, business is one of the most unpredictable endeavours one can try. But God on the other hand, is our rock solid foundation and hope. You can trust in Him for everything, including your business especially when it is done to glorify God.
And this is a walk to be remember for Canaanland.
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