Stanley Tam: Investing in Heavenly Treasure

4 min

From his earliest boyhood memories, Stanley Tam set his priorities toward making money. He was born on September 15, 1915, and grew up on a small farm near Lima, Ohio. As a boy, he helped his parents milk the cows and plant potatoes. However, his ambitions lay far beyond the humble circumstances of his upbringing. Stanley admits that in his spare moments he would speculate about how he could get rich, just as many young boys do. So, putting feet to his aspirations, he advertised his abilities as a handyman to his neighbors and made extra money painting mailboxes, doing lawn care, and washing windows.

When Stanley was ten years old, he remembers looking into the sky one night and seeing the moon in the heavens. For the first time in his life, he prayed this simple prayer, “Who are you, God?” No immediate answer came, but God heard that request and revealed Himself in His own time.

At the age of seventeen, Stanley found an interesting magazine article that described how pure silver was used in the process of developing photographic film. Eighty percent of this silver was washed away by the fixing solution during the process of emulsion, and no profitable way had yet been devised to reclaim the wasted silver. Young Stanley was intrigued by the problem, and he filed the article away for future consideration.

One day, while selling kitchen supplies from house to house, Stanley was trying to sell some utensils to a lady. During his sales pitch, the lady turned the conversation around and started asking Stanley soul-searching questions about eternity. She told the young salesman about eternal values that were far above the trivial values of earthly possessions. She explained to him about the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that He purchased with His own blood upon the cross of Calvary.

Realizing the value of eternal life, Stanley repented of his sins and placed his faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Slowly, changes began to take place in Stanley’s life as he began to set his affections on things above rather than on earthly matters.

The Lord blessed Stanley’s desire and efforts to honor Him. When Stanley was twenty years old, he sought out a man who had invented a device to reclaim the silver lost in the process of developing photographs. This device, a “silver collector,” used electrical current to draw the silver out of the fixing solution and onto electrified plates where it could be reclaimed.

Stanley entered into an agreement with the inventor of this silver collector to market the new device. With this innovative device, Stanley launched his new business, which he named “Tamco,” with a few dollars from his father as capital. By hard work and patience, the business slowly grew. Stanley traveled thousands of miles each year, seeking to convince the owners of photography shops to use his “silver collectors.”

When Stanley was twenty-three years old, he married Juanita, a Christian young lady from his hometown. Together, they built up the business. They learned by experience that as they “sought first the kingdom of God,” the Lord fulfilled His promise to provide food and clothing as they needed. The couple learned to tithe a tenth of their earnings to the Lord and His work. Tithing was a sacrifice, but if God commanded it, Stanley wanted to do it. During the first year of their marriage, the young couple lived in a travel trailer as Stanley tried to build his business. Slowly and gradually, their efforts paid off and the business grew.

One day, God laid upon Stanley’s heart the desire to do something that is almost unheard of in the business world. Stanley walked into the office of a local attorney and made a unique request. He asked the lawyer to draw up papers transferring fifty-one percent of his company’s stock to the Lord Jesus Christ. The lawyer thought that the young businessman had lost his mind! He urged Stanley to go home and think about it. But Stanley had already thought about it, and he and Juanita had decided together that they would set their affections on things above in a very practical way. Fifty-one percent of the profits earned by their company would go into a non-profit corporation. That non-profit corporation would then channel all the funds to the work of foreign missions. In reality, God became the primary shareholder of the business.

Stanley discovered that God could operate the business better than he could! The business steadily prospered. Meanwhile, the young businessman also noticed a curious development: the owners of the photographic shops were sometimes more interested in the plastic buckets that carried the silver collection devices than the collectors themselves! These were the days when the use of plastic in common items such as buckets was relatively new. Soon, Stanley began receiving requests for the plastic buckets! More and more requests came for plastic buckets–more, in fact, than he could readily supply. Due to this interest, Stanley began another company, U. S. Plastics Corporation.

As his success in various business enterprises expanded, the Lord gave Stanley opportunities to share his story with other Christian businessmen around the country. He was asked to present his message in other countries around the world, teaching laymen everywhere the blessings that come in seeking first the Kingdom of God. He gained a love for soul-winning and saw that far above the value of silver was the value of the eternal souls of men, women, girls, and boys for whom Christ had died.

Stanley remembers distinctly the day when he was giving a message in South America in 1955. At the conclusion of the service, he was inviting men to give their all to the Lord Jesus Christ. At that moment on the platform, Stanley realized that God was calling him to do even more for the Kingdom of Heaven. Stanley and Juanita decided that, instead of giving God fifty-one percent, they would turn over 100% of their profits to the Lord Jesus. They would then live on a salary as “employees of God.” Seventy years later, Stanley Tam has never regretted that decision. He says with a smile that now, whenever he had a problem, he can always “take it to ‘The Boss.’”

Over the past seventy years, God has blessed this man exceedingly and abundantly. Millions upon millions of dollars have gone directly to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ in seventy-five nations across the globe. Thousands of souls, more precious than silver, have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Today at the age of 107, Stanley Tam is grateful that he set his affections on things above.

Each one of us must examine ourselves to see if our affections are truly set on things above. Perhaps the Lord may be speaking to you as He spoke to Stanley and Juanita, laying specific ways that you can practically adjust your priorities so that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly first place.

Sources and Further Reference: 

Tam, R. Stanley. God Owns My Business. Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread Publishers, 2013.

“Lay Up Treasures” (message by Dr. R. Stanley Tam, available at embassymedia.com)

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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