Image copy

Doris Ng (centre) and colleagues at the Anglican Care Centre, where they have been volunteering since 2013. All photos courtesy of Doris Ng.

Doris Ng was born a healthy baby in 1960. This was around the time that Singapore first began its vaccination campaign against polio. Somehow, Ng missed out on receiving the vaccine.

Around the age of three, she contracted polio. She does not remember much, except for a hospital stay. The virus caused her right leg to be shorter and much weaker than her left.

“Growing up, I couldn’t do certain things, like running or mountain climbing. I was exempted from PE lessons and I had to stay in class alone. I felt excluded, but sometimes I also enjoyed having time to myself,” recalls Ng.

“My mother was very protective of me. She always ensured I had a companion when I went out.”

“Now I can fly!”

Today Ng walks with a limp, and sometimes uses a walking stick for additional support. But whatever she lacks in physical strength, she more than makes up for with her mental resilience and can-do spirit.

Her energy and positivity shines through within the first few minutes of speaking with her.

“I have trained my mind to move forward all the time. I try to change what I can, and not dwell on things I cannot change. Since I was young, I have had to put in extra effort in life. This has shaped my character.”

Ng’s life story is about overcoming adversity in God’s strength. The activities that able-bodied people take for granted do not come as easily for her.

“Since I was young, I have had to put in extra effort in life. This has shaped my character.”

She recounts how she fought for the right to take her driving test in 1994 after she had cleared all the theory and practical lessons.

“On the day of the driving test, the tester disqualified me from taking the assessment. He said I needed to show medical reports proving that I was fit to be on the road.

I argued to be allowed to take the test, she said. “If I pass, before you give me my license, I will go for a medical check-up. If I’m not fit to drive, you can choose not to give me the licence.”

Ng remembers arguing for two to three hours before the tester relented. She passed the test and got her driving license. She still recalls her exhilaration when she first started driving.

“I thought, ‘This is fantastic, now I can fly!’ Driving gives me independence. Being able to move around fast means that I’m on par with anyone out there.”

Faith in the marketplace

That same never-say-die attitude has helped Ng achieve professional success as well. She is currently the senior vice president at DNA Financial, a financial planning agency she founded in 1998 with the vision of it being a “world-class financial planning branch unit that honours God”.

Ng (extreme left) with her colleagues. In her early days of sharing God in the marketplace, she says meetings were held in the storeroom and “we prayed with the lights off, hoping that no one would notice us”. Since then she has seen souls saved and now reminds her staff that even in their business plan, “there’s a God factor, it’s not just about them.”

She is a firm believer that Christians must be intentional about building the Kingdom of God in their workplace. “How can it be that God calls you into a work place for 8 to 10 hours a day and He is not there?”

Nevertheless it was”with great fear” that she first started ministering to people in her workplace.

“How can it be that God calls you into a work place for 8 to 10 hours a day and He is not there?”

“I worked for 10 years in a music company. While I was there, I started a fellowship and prayer group. We were so timid that we hid ourselves in a storeroom. Later, we went on to use the conference room. The Lord was faithful to us, but we were faithless – we prayed with the lights off, hoping that no one would notice us!”

The breakthrough came when Ng started an evangelistic bible study for six months. Looking back, she recognises how bold she was to believe that people would actually attend the bible study.

But they did, and souls were saved.

In 1998, she became the director of her financial agency. That marked a turning point in her own understanding of marketplace ministry.

“I can shape my agency’s mission and vision. I realised I must be very structured and intentional in the way I want to talk about God at work.”

Currently, Ng incorporates spiritual formation into her work routines.

She holds devotion meetings, buys Christian resources for her staff and has two Whatsapp chat groups in which she and other Christian associates take turns to share God’s Word with their colleagues.

“God was faithful to us but we were faithless –  we prayed with the lights off, hoping that no one would notice us!”

“I’ve seen one agent go on to become a pastor, another agent and his family were saved, and someone from another faith also came to know the Lord.

“It’s possible to train people to be fishers of men in the marketplace. Even when I coach my staff about their business plan, I remind them that there’s a God factor, it’s not just about them.”

Ng is a firm believer that one has to be very intentional to share Christ at the workplace and it goes beyond just being a good example to others.

“Even if your workplace is hostile to the faith, explore other options. Go out for lunch with colleagues who don’t know the Lord. Evangelism and discipleship has to be intentional.”

Colossians 3:23-24 are verses that anchor Ng in her professional life.  

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Divine appointments

This translates into seeing each business meeting as a divine appointment, and not just a means to close a deal and make money.

Ng (centre) during a mission trip to Timor-Leste in 2014. Despite her physical limitations, she tries to go on one mission trip a year to help people “convert dollars to something with eternal value”.

“The end purpose is not to close the sale but to be open to the Lord’s intention for you.

She sees each business meeting as a divine appointment, not just a means to close a deal.

“People ask me, ‘How do you stay so passionate about your work after so many years?’ The end I have in mind is not my income. If it is, once you hit your income ceiling, you won’t be passionate anymore.

“But if there is a divine appointment that the Lord has assigned to me, then I want to get to know someone as a friend. If I cannot close the sale, I don’t mind just sowing a seed too,” Ng says with great enthusiasm.

Because Ng is in the business of creating and growing wealth, she has developed strong views on how Christians can glorify God in their finances. She believes that how a believer handles money is a great test of one’s spirituality, as “it’s often money that comes between us and God.”

How a believer handles money is a test of one’s spirituality – “often money comes between us and God”.

“There is the tension of always wanting to have more. When you first earn $5,000, you feel happy. Then, you want $10,000, and then $50,000. One way to not let money have a grip on you is to give. When you have an income, you tithe, and as income escalates, increase your offering.”

Despite her physical limitations, Ng has tried to go on mission trips once a year. She says such trips to the developing world helps her recalibrate and reminds her to live simply.

“In a third world country, $10,000 can build a church, support a missionary or be invested into microfinance.

“Money can be converted into something with eternal value. I slow down before buying big ticket items to ensure I am being a good steward.”

Cultivating a spirit of rest

Ng also stresses the importance of working “with the spirit of rest”, something she has learnt through a season of suffering.

In November last year, Ng fell and broke her right leg, which is the one afflicted with polio. That plunged her into a dark valley, a journey that she has likened to Job’s walk with God.

“Money can be converted into something with eternal value. I slow down before buying big ticket items.”

Ng’s leg had to be in a cast for 12 weeks, followed by four weeks of living with a knee brace.

During this time, Circuit Breaker measures also meant she could not have visitors during her long stay at St Andrew’s Community Hospital. She had to celebrate her 60th birthday without her friends by her side.

The go-getter admits that the long wait to get better has been a severe trial. She looked forward to good news at each four-week review, but would be crushed to be told that her progress was slow.

She was not allowed to put weight on her leg until the 16th week.

On top of coping with the disappointment, she also endured significant pain and discomfort, and the inconveniences of a long hospital stay.

I tell myself, ‘Doris, you can breathe and sit and talk and eat. This is from the Lord. Don’t take things for granted.’

“My recovery takes so much longer than others. I asked God, ‘Why do you allow me to go through this? Why can’t You just cut short this process?’

“I really learnt to submit to God, die to self and let the Word of God empower me.”

Ng describes the many months of being in bed, in pain, unable to work, and separation from her friends as an intense season of being totally humbled and broken before God. As a result, Job’s proclamation in chapter 42:5-6 also became the cry of her heart too.

“My ears had heard of you
 but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

“Even now, one virus can turn the world upside down. I tell myself, ‘Doris, you can breathe and sit and talk and eat. All this is from the Lord. Don’t take things for granted.’

“It’s easy to say that God is faithful. But nothing is better than letting (Bible) verses be tested by fire.”

Always aspiring to be a good steward of her time, Ng used the months of solitude during her hospitalisation to write a book about her fall and how God has walked with her through the darkest moments.

Ng has not fully recovered, more than eight months after her fall.

There is still pain and discomfort in her right leg. She disciplines herself to exercise for at least two hours each day, doing Pilates, cycling on a stationary bike, swimming and walking.

It is an intense regimen but she credits the Lord for giving her strength to keep going.

“I listen to worship songs and Scriptures throughout the two hours of exercise. I soak in God’s presence. This makes it possible to endure, if not, it’s very difficult to keep going.

“It’s easy to say that God is faithful or His grace is sufficient. But nothing is better than walking through life and letting these verses be tested in the fire.”

“If you just give money, how do you change a person’s heart?”: Why Fullerton Markets CEO Mario Singh is hands-on at his foundation

“Less of me and more of You”: A nurse’s journey from aesthetic medicine to end-of-life care

7 leadership lessons from CEOs who answer to a higher power

About the author

Ting Siew Lee

Siew Lee was a news producer before becoming a missionary in Timor-Leste since 2007. She enjoys deep conversations with friends and making people think. She believes that dark chocolate is the answer to every question.