A Light in the Marketplace

A missionary who need not go to other countries as people from all countries come to him

By Goldie & Tek Chong



Conference in Himawari with Andrew Tay (front centre)

We noticed the difference. All the staff at Himawari Hotel Apartments in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, were helpful and served us with a pleasant smile when we had our two-day conference there. The Light Times, a bi-lingual magazine published by a young couple, Soksan and Linat had sponsored us from Perth for a two day conference for the young professionals on “marriage” and “ministry in the marketplace”. The Director of the Himawari is Mr Andrew Tay. He was one of our speakers. Andrew declared unashamedly that he was in Cambodia not only to run a world class hotel but to glorify his Lord & Master Jesus Christ. As we listened to him we realised we are meeting another kind of ‘missionary’. After many years of hard work, Andrew has built up a reputable hotel but more than that he has built up a strong beacon where the Christian light is shining bright.

Himawari Hotel Apartments
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen official launch of Himawari Hotel Apts.  in 2001

From Singapore to Cambodia
Andrew was born and grew up in Singapore. His parents knew poverty and hardship and built a business empire from scratch, eventually expanding into SE Asia and became listed as one of the TOP 50 entrepreneurs in Singapore. A visionary businessman and philanthropist, his dad taught Andrew to be generous and to help the poor.

In 2001 young Andrew fresh from university got a new vision when his dad sent him to Cambodia, opening a new door for him to take over the management of a hotel and renamed it as Himawari Hotel Apartments. Andrew knew he faced a formidable task. That drove him to pray the prayer Solomon prayed – for wisdom and knowledge and to keep humble before God.

Bold witness
Andrew boldly invited his Lord into his business. It was not easy in the then chaotic political situation of the land. He knew without the Lord he would never have the courage to stand firm on his Christian principles. He holds regular Christian meetings for his staff, inviting speakers to share the good news of the gospel with them. He also knows that as the head of his team his behaviour and actions must reflect his Christian beliefs. He knows he is the open bible which people who will never read the real thing will read. When he is addressed as “boss” he reminds himself that the real boss is Jesus. “He is the one who gives me the wisdom and knowledge I need,” he never tires of telling others. He is hopeful his life will attract people to Christ.

Business philosophy
As a businessman, he states his mission:

Having been blessed by the business, I must remember to give back to society through employment, training and treating our employees well. I need to give my time, effort to be involved in volunteerism activities, e.g. I am active in St. John’s Ambulance, having grown up in that organization. To be a light to the nations which in Cambodia is especially needful as a growing country.

In his talk to the young Cambodians in our conference Andrew shared a valuable business tip which he received from his father, a successful hotelier of Singapore: to do well in business you have to go to the clients first rather than wait for them to come to you. You must understand what customers need and serve them before others get to them.” Andrew’s philosophy is summed up in his declaration: “my business is my Heavenly Father’s business which He gave me for His glory, allowing me to grow and bless others – using my hotel to reach out to others and as a light to the world. Instead of me going to other countries, people from other countries come and stay at my hotel. I am thankful that God has brought me a wonderful wife who is my great helper. Alicia is Cambodian who knows the culture, language, society and way of life here – a real blessing.”….


Living and working in Cambodia, he sees Cambodia continue to grow, asserting,

there is this sense of a nation of living hope, moving forward with progress, coming out from its dark past. I see the Lord has grace for this nation and given it a new spirit in life.

We salute Andrew as he joins a growing group of marketplace- missionaries to establish God’s Kingdom in the mission fields. END

Andrew was awarded the Serving Brother of the Order of St. John by Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (U.K.)
Helping each other
The Tay family featured in the Cambodian christian magazine The Light Times

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