Missionary in the marketplace

Ervin TanFeature

Audrey (2nd from left) conducting an integral part of the PlayMoolah programmes, called an “honesty circle”, a platform where participants are able to share openly about their financial journey. Photo: PlayMoolah (taken pre-Covid)

Missionary in the marketplace

Social entrepreneur Audrey Joy Tan shares how God has called her to help children, young people and families learn about positive financial and emotional resilience, and how to be good stewards of their resources.

The seeds of entrepreneurship were planted in my heart when I was a child. Growing up, my brothers and I would often pretend to run a business, buying and selling stuff to each other at home, so I always thought that maybe I could be a business person in the future. I did not know then that these seeds of entrepreneurship were actually the missionary seeds of evangelisation that God had sown in me.

Realising my calling

Growing up, I saw many problems that existed in the world. I felt the need to respond to them but could not do so. Then it dawned on me that my ingenuity and creativity, given by God, were an invitation from the Holy Spirit to co-create and discover ways in which the human person can come alive. During my adolescent years, I began to feel an inner stirring of faith. I was given an opportunity to visit a slum community in Indonesia. It allowed me to see for the very first time what poverty looked like, where children struggled with not having enough to eat and not having access to school or a dignified livelihood. This experience struck a chord deep in my heart. God had revealed to me a desire to help the poor, which made me think that I was called to be an overseas missionary. However, after a long and deeper period of reflection, I discerned that my calling was to the poor in Singapore; besides material poverty, I realised that people were also afflicted by other kinds of poverty, present in Singapore.

Call to uphold dignity

In Christifideles Laici, St John Paul II quoted, “In the socioeconomic realm, the dignity and total vocation of the human person must be honoured and advanced along with the welfare of society as a whole, for man is the source, the centre, and the purpose of all socio-economic life.” Many of us might not actually recognise this. In a consumeristic society like Singapore, we have been told to want things we never knew we wanted. There is little discernment between what we need, what we want, what is enough and our general sense of contentment. God showed me that many people in Singapore were not able to live dignified lives simply because they did not know how to be good financial stewards. I sensed that God was telling me that my mission was to help His people here. I would be a more effective missionary behind the computer, where my talents lie, and I could properly use them in my own unique way in service for His people.

This led me to found PlayMoolah, a company to help individuals and families develop a healthy relationship with money and prioritise it in a way that is in communion with God. Empowered with proper financial stewardship, people can then live free and dignified lives. The realisation of my purpose really shook me. Only then did I understand that there was a mission here to rethink the notions of wealth, joy and being fully alive. There was a need for people to understand how we can order our lives financially in a way that would bring the most freedom in living.

“Only then did I understand that there was a mission here to rethink the notions of wealth, joy and being fully alive.”

Trusting in His ways

The journey of entrepreneurship has not been an easy one, and my mission continues to evolve as well. What started from teaching young people about money has now evolved to teaching families how to live a flourishing life. Looking back, the journey has involved a lot of experimentation, which requires a constant surrender each day to what the Lord asks of me next. It is a constant reminder to be like our Blessed Mother and “do whatever He tells me”. I thank God for all the gifts that He has given me, especially the grace to realise that in Him anything and everything can happen.

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