By JOHN FORTMEYER
PORTLAND — The world of business is a tremendous place to reflect God’s love and His values, the founder of a succcessful Oregon company believes.
In fact, the business world is specifically oriented for that, said Marshall Stevens, who started the Oil Can Henry’s quick-lube chain in 1978 and sold it a decade later.
“My passion is to share God’s Kingdom through business,” said Stevens. “I believe it is in the workplace, in commerce, that we have the most natural opportunities to share our journey.”
Stevens was featured speaker at the third annual Portland Benefit Dinner May 9 for Nehemiah Project International Mini-stries, and also received the ministry’s Kingdom Busi-ness Award. Based in Lake Oswego, NPIM is a business training and support organization providing transformational entrepre-neurial curriculum and support for small- to medium-size business worldwide.
A graduate of UCLA School of Business Admin-istration, Stevens also attended Fuller Theological Seminary and served in Vietnam as a U.S. Army captain. He has more than 35 years experience with business start-ups, turn-arounds and other
Stevens said it is important for a business to do all it reasonably can for employees, suppliers and customers.
He said a company should provide both a solid salary and benefits to its workers in return for their dedicated efforts. “Our attitude should be, I will pay you as much as I possibly can,” he said.
It is also important to pay suppliers on time, and provide excellent service to customers, Stevens said. “We need to be a witness (for Christ) in the way we live,” he said.
And whenever possible, business should be involved in worthy community projects. he said: “I believe God gave us commerce, or more specifically business, to bless people.”
Although a self-decribed “enterpreneur from youth,” Stevens today is neither the operator nor owner of a business, but he travels nationally and internationally as a mentor to other business people.
“I really believe I’m proving myself to be a better coach than a player,” he said. “God just keeps my plate full.”
Patrice Tsague, co-founder and chief servant officer for Nehemiah Pro-ject, agreed with Stevens on the huge, positive impact that Christian businesses can have on society at large. For example, he said the recent racial strife in Baltimore, Md., is fundamentally tied to economic challenges in that city.
“What’s happening in Baltimore is an economic problem,” Tsague said. “We as Christians need to be part of the solution.”
KPDQ radio’s Georgene Rice, who emceed the dinner, said much the same. “Men and women in business have the capacity to impact the culture, to reach far beyond the four walls of the church,” she said.
Stevens said he finds it fascinating that Tsague, who immigrated to America, is doing such key work now here.
“I think God in heaven chuckles when he looks at Nehemiah Project,” he said. “God has taken a young man from west Africa to teach arrogant Americans about business.”