I run a public relations and marketing business that’s rather small, not very innovative, and wholly unremarkable. We only have one goal: Make as much money as possible, and give away as much as we can.
I enjoy making money. I always have. When I was 10, I “bought” my first shares in an off-book exchange with my father. I sold all our family’s baby guppies when I was 12, making a respectable profit (and possibly avoiding an overpopulation crisis in the process).
During my university years, I spent most of it working as a freelance journalist and copywriter, so much so that in one particularly lucrative month I didn’t see anyone outside my household for nearly six weeks. Despite what happened with the guppies, we still had fish at home to keep me company, though the conversation was rather one-sided.
I enjoyed making money, but I enjoyed giving it away more. This was an instinct best suppressed in any Asian household, especially those carving out a living as immigrants in a country with a penchant for elitism. “You think anyone will look after you if you go hungry?” was the catchcry of my pre-Christian household.
Years on, with my family saved, it’s easy to answer yes and amen: To repeat the promises of Matthew 6:25 and Psalms 37:19, and numerous other verses that speak of how our Father will neither leave us nor forsake us.
It’s also easy to answer as Paul did: That it’s better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). But the muscles of generosity were left atrophying over the years until I began to flex them again.
I never intended to go into business. When I did, no amount of prayer could remove the sensation that I was leaping into an abyss – one where if He didn’t catch me, I’d crumple on the rocks of poverty below. But as I was in mid-flight and His promises started to reveal themselves, I knew He had bigger plans for me than to simply fill my own rice bowl.
He’d placed in me a desire to give, and my only question was, “How?”
The first answer He gave me was time. Running my own business, coupled with the flexibility of the type of work we were doing, suddenly opened the hours between 9 and 6 to expanded possibilities for ministry and service.
Preparing materials for our cell group; fixing doors and lightbulbs in the church; meeting the young men under my care for lunch at their offices, on their terms. Giving me time taught me faithfulness in the little things, husbanding my hours and minutes to bear fruit for others wherever they could.
My goal is not dissimilar from an ah long’s: Earn money, give money.
The second answer was treasure. As the business grew in revenue, it gave boldness to my vision: To aggressively sow into Kingdom-building work throughout South-East Asia. We invested in church projects, funded missionaries, donated to charities devoted to the “pure and undefiled religion” (James 1:27) of helping the widows and orphans whom Singaporeans all too often avert their eyes from.
My business partner – himself a committed leader of similar organisations nationwide – literally wrote me blank cheques to use where I felt the Holy Spirit leading me. We put Luke 6:38 to the test and the more we gave, the more He gave back in return.
The final answer was – and is – talent. It came on a winter’s night in the hills of Chiang Mai’s outskirts, where a young man told me the story of his own leap of faith. And as he did so, I felt something stir in my heart as well – the desire, entertained since young but never really exercised, to tell everyday stories of hope and life that would otherwise go untold.
From that point on, the business became a tool. It gave me the flexibility and time to travel afar, and bring testimonies like that young man’s to a world in desperate need of hope and light. It also became a wellspring of resources to support those whose stories I had the privilege of encountering.
I also realised it had been the refiner’s fire to my talent: Two years of managing high-pressure operations and completing last-minute jobs from the back of pick-up trucks, in oily sampans, and under foreign skies clear of cloud and cellular reception.
“For by You I can run against a troop,” declared David, the ultimate action-hero, in Psalm 18:29; “By my God I leap over a wall.” What was once the impossible had, through unrelenting training, become the unremarkable.
It’s increasingly difficult to separate treasure out from time and talents. And I think that’s what He always intended. He wants us to give not pieces of ourselves, but the whole – just like He gave Himself for us.
My goal at the start was simple, not dissimilar from an ah long’s: Earn money, give money. That’s still what motivates me to stay in business today.
But as I’ve learnt to give, that vision’s grown to encompass far more forms of giving, and I hope it never stops. The only thing remarkable about my business is how He’s made it His.
“If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill”: Lessons and miracles over coffee with Jason Chua
by Joey Lam | 10 July 2018, 1:52 PM
I was having coffee and catching up with Jason Chua when he blew my mind with a few stories.
6 years ago when he came back from Kansas City, he had only $250 left in his bank account. At that time he knew God had called him to establish a house of prayer, but back then no one in Singapore would pay you to make worship and prayer happen.
Besides, Jason’s brother is a pastor who doesn’t earn much either and has 4 kids to feed. His parents back then weren’t believers, and wouldn’t give him money because they wanted him to get a job. Their actions simply said: “If this is what your God has called you to do, He will feed you.”
So with little left in his bank account left, Jason prayed that God would give him the faith of George Müller.
George Müller was known as the apostle of orphans. He once sat all his orphans down at mealtime to give thanks to God for food – all while holding empty plates. The next moment, a milk truck broke down outside the orphanage. Because milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed, the milkman gave Muller all the milk for the orphans to drink.
Jason told me about a date he once had with Constance – then his girlfriend, now his wife. They were walking around Cathay when she turned to him and said, “Let’s watch a movie.”
Jason told me that he didn’t like the idea of having to ask Constance to pay for their movie tickets. But the reality was that there was no more money left in his bank account. So he said, “Well, we will see, let’s just put the card into the ATM.”
That was when he saw there was suddenly $500 in his bank account.
If God has a will, He will pay His bills.
Back then no one knew who Jason Chua was. So it wasn’t possible that anyone would have transferred money to him, because no one knew his bank account number apart from his brother and father. He rang them up to ask if they had transferred money to him – they both replied no. He exploded in faith from that moment on.
Jason told me about this other time a random teenager came up to him with an angbao with a few hundred dollars inside. He’d never even met the teenager before. Even more incredulous was Jason’s testimony of how his bank account kept “replenishing” itself to the amount it originally held, even after he drew money.
And there’s more: Jason once put his phone on top of his wallet, and when he picked up his phone some time later, he found new notes underneath it. And there was another occasion when he was walking on the street, and he suddenly felt uncomfortable in his feet. He took off his shoes and you guessed it – money inside.
Right before we parted, Jason left me with a word of conviction and encouragement: “If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill.”
As I sat listening to Jason, I realised I was meeting a person who has experienced God’s supernatural provision. And I was reminded: God put the stars in their place with His fingers, by His breath He separated light and darkness, by His thought He fashioned each of us uniquely yet in His image.
What miracle is beyond Him?
Read Elijah’s account in 1 Kings 17 – there are two kinds of provision in there. First, God calls Elijah to hide by the brook in Kerith, where he would drink from and where ravens would feed him. So Elijah drank from the brook, and the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and evening. Talk about Deliveroo from above!
How humbling it must have been to be fed by some random birds twice a day. Supernatural provision, in God’s amazing way for every unique situation.
I struggle to empty my wallet into the offering bag, fearing there won’t be enough to buy lunch after church, and yet Elijah asks this widow for her very last meal.
Next, the brook dries up and God instructs Elijah to find the widow of Zarephath – a foreign woman in a foreign land.
According to God, she was going to provide for Elijah. So he finds the widow (in what I’m sure is their first meeting) and asks for a cup of water and some bread. He asks her for these things in the middle of a drought!
She replies honestly, saying that he is free to join them for one last meal before she and her son die from starvation. Elijah assures her that she and her son will live, but insists she feeds him first. He promises that the God of Israel (a foreign god to this widow) would ensure there will always be food on the table until the rain falls once more.
That’s … ridiculous. The widow just told him she was going to eat her last meal, yet Elijah – possibly an imposter for all she knows – insists on eating her last meal first and that a foreign God would take care of her?
I struggle to empty my wallet into the offering bag, fearing there won’t be enough to buy lunch after church, and yet Elijah asks this widow for her very last meal. The beauty of this passage is that in Elijah’s need and the widow’s obedience – neither died from hunger.
But God in His amazing way, orchestrates miracles around such intersections, showing Himself to be the ultimate provider and conductor over our lives.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’ve been tempted to think things like, “Cool story, bro.” I’ve also found myself reasoning before, “This is a Bible story, I am not in the Bible, so God isn’t calling me to such things.”
But it isn’t about us. God used ordinary, flawed and imperfect humans for His purposes. I’m sure that if could speak with these biblical characters, we’d realise how ordinary they are.
The same God who’s working these miracles in the Bible, is the same God we worship today. So the miracles He performed in the Bible – He can do them today as well. The question is whether we have the faith to believe He can do likewise through us.
The same God who’s working these miracles in the Bible, is the same God we worship today.
As I listen to Jason’s testimonies, I am made to reframe the way I view money again and again. Money does have many uses, but the one thing I can’t let it do is trap me. And it’s easy to be trapped by our perception of money, forgetting we worship a God who is not restrained by financial limitations, who has infinite resources beyond what mere money will ever get us.
To us, money meets needs. But do we attribute more power to money than to God? We cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24) – one must take precedence over the other.
When we dare to say, “I can have nothing left in my bank account, I do not know what I will eat for my next meal, but I am sure He will provide, I am sure He hears my prayer,” that’s when we faithfully attest to His character and timely provision. That’s when the grip of financial security over us loosens.
Many workers live by such faith, not because they enjoy uncertainty, but because they rest in His provision.
I pray that as you finish reading this article, more room in your heart will be given to God, to let Him walk with you through financial uncertainty. He will certainly be faithful to provide no matter the circumstance, because we live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of our living God.
When we dare to live with little or none, we’ll realise how He is truly everything we need. When we have a renewed understanding of God and money, we’ll have a new perspective in the songs we sing about His provision.
Getting a job shouldn’t be that tough. Besides, I’m a Singaporean and I’m going to graduate with a bachelor with an honours degree.
That was my mentality towards my impending job search while still in university. Though this was going to be my first time stepping into the workforce, I was sure I’d land a job easily because my industry was always publicised on the news as an one that is constantly growing and in need of employees.
I couldn’t be more naive.
As my job hunt began, I decided that I shouldn’t be idling around at home, waiting for interviews to be offered to me.
So I decided to work as an Uber driver as the incentives were enticing then. After my last exam in university, I took the car and started driving. I signed a 5-week contract with the car rental company, believing that I would be able to find a job within that time frame and I could return the car by then.
I imagined that the job search wouldn’t be too tough as long as I kept sending resumes out. What I didn’t realise was that I was going to be sending resumes for a much longer time than I had imagined.
God is working in my waiting.
After a month of driving, chasing after incentives and earning the most that I could out of it, I still had no job. My situation then evolved from “I should look for engineering jobs” to “I need a job – any job will do.”
The stress of this silent wait was compounded by the fact that my wife was pregnant with our first child – we had even more financial responsibilities to bear. I started to worry about my situation. I became desperate.
I started to send out resumes everywhere like a mad man. I even applied for jobs that weren’t in my industry or area of expertise. The outcome was not good: Less than ten out of the many companies that I’d written to had even gotten back to me, and I wasn’t offered any second interviews or positions.
It didn’t help much when friends around me started asking if I’d found a job. Some even questioned if I was being picky. The truth was, I had nothing to even be picky about! It was honestly a very trying and disappointing time.
Some thought that my asking salary was too high as I had no prior experience. Other jobs rejected me because they thought my results were “too good” for the positions they were offering. I was simply running into dead ends.
It didn’t help at all when I read a viral article about a Singaporean’s eight-year-long unemployment. It made me wonder if I might never get a full-time job. One by one, my peers started working in their full-time jobs, and there I was wondering why I was still unemployed. My self-esteem plummeted and I started faulting and condemning myself.
I should worked harder. I should have decorated my resume with more work experiences. This is the end for me.
… prayer should be our first response rather than our last resort.
I wondered whether God would ever give me a stable job – whether I would have to do odd jobs for life. What was all that hard work and studying for?Did God forget about me?
But each night, as I spent time alone with God, He assured me that He was there for me. It was in this difficult time in my life that I decided to trust God by faith and continue to press in and pray. A friend once told me that prayer should be our first response rather than our last resort.
Even though I was very discouraged, I kept this reminder close to heart and hung onto God, knowing that He is with me.
In November, I received a phone call from a company that I’d applied to some months ago. They were going to set an interview date with me, but that dragged on for yet another few more months. I was all ready for it to be yet another futile attempt.
But six months after that phone call, I actually secured an interview and to my surprise – I got the job!
The commencement salary offered to me was also way beyond what I could’ve asked for as a fresh graduate with no prior experience. And as I write this, I’m finally starting work soon.
In retrospect, God’s timing is always perfect.
My year of not holding a full-time job meant that I had the flexibility of time to meet the needs of my family. While working as a driver, I had the flexibility to send my wife to work from the northern part of Singapore to the eastern part of Singapore.
I could bring her for check-ups comfortably in a car, send her to her night classes and pick her up afterwards. Our trips to baby fairs were always done quickly and efficiently with a car. We could bring home our purchases to prepare for the arrival of our newborn comfortably with ease.
The community of God around me has also been a tremendous blessing and support to me. My mentors and my cell group never once gave up on me, and they’re always spurring me on despite my imperfections and the negativity I held on to.
God’s timing is always perfect.
I’ve learnt that even through unfavourable situations, God is still watching over me. Even when it seems completely hopeless, God is still at work. God is working in my waiting.
While my eyes were fixated on what I was lacking and not getting, God was actually pruning me for something else. He planted me elsewhere to lead and serve my family in that season. He never forgot about me once even as I sat there in the waiting room.
Through this year-long wait, I have learnt to never look at the circumstance I’m in, but to God who’s backing me up and is in control of everything, even when it feels like I’ve run into a dead end.
Full-time under 30: From academia to the heart of Africa
by Jemima Ooi, Justice Rising | 4 June 2018, 2:14 PM
Before I was called into missions in my early twenties, I remember chatting with a close friend who was feeling the nudge towards full-time ministry. She asked me what I thought, and with gutsy conviction, I replied, “Being called out by God is the most humbling privilege anyone can ever receive.”
I still feel the same way now, after seven years in the field, and perhaps all the more convinced – although I have to admit my convictions waned a little when I was first called into the fray!
Truth is, I’ve caught whispers of my calling since I was a young girl. Since God lives outside of time, I believe He peppers glimpses of our callings throughout our lives. I recall having visions of working in refugee camps at the age of 14, and having recurring dreams about being amongst the poor as a child.
Sometimes the knowing was so deep, I would tell my mum as a little girl that I didn’t think my life would be very ordinary.
Life in the Congo
The faith journey that led me intofull-time missions started while I was in university. At that time, I saw my contemporaries fizzle out in the faith, pursuing lifestyles that weren’t healthy for them.
I was deeply saddened in my spirit – some of my closest friends left God, and I couldn’t convince them to stay.
It occurred to me then that it wasn’t just about good deeds or character; it wasn’t about knowing right and wrong – these things alone didn’t go down deep enough into the heart of a person to establish them, anchor them in God.
Something was missing and I needed to find God for myself. I needed Him to be so real that nothing on earth could tear me away from our relationship. I needed to live in intimacy, in oneness with Him.
This was where my deep and personal relationship with God took off. I began to seek Him out. I would take walks alone with Him late at night for over two hours almost every day. Italked to Him about everything on my heart, and He listened.
He encouraged me, taught me how to study, how to write my essays. I felt deeply at peace andknown by my Creator. Soon God began to speak to me about “going places with Him”. I heartily agreed but didn’t exactly know how it would unfold.
Being called out by God is the most humbling privilege anyone can ever receive.
As I walked and talked with Him, God helped me to excel in university. Some people described me as a “late bloomer”, but I know it was nothing apart from God.
My professors talked to me about scholarships and asked if I would consider a career in academia. Coming from my bumbling academic background growing up, this was by far the most prestigious offer I’d ever received in my life. I had also received several tempting job offers, but my heart was hesitant.
So I sat to pray in earnest; I remember telling God, “I can’t do any of this without You. If I stay in academia or take these other jobs, but You’re not with me, everyone will know I’m a hoax.”
“What do You desire for my life?”
He replied by telling me to serve my parents for a year, after which He would tell me then what He wanted me to do.
My parents run a restaurant called “Penang Place”, and I worked there for two years as a server, helping to manage the operations and communications of our little family business.
It was a humbling place where God was sifting my affections – whether it lay in the things of this world, the honour and prestige, or whether I was loyal to the things on His heart. At the end of one year, God spoke so clearly to me about becoming a missionary.
He spoke about giving off myfirst fruits to Him, not just my money, but my strength and youth –things that could not be bought or regained.
During this season when God was speaking, several visiting speakers actually approached me and told me that God had marked me “for the nations”. These people didn’t even know me! The confirmations just kept coming and I knew that it was time to leave.
From there, I signed up to train with an international missions organisation, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), gave up my right to material security as the world would understand it, said goodbye to my family … And followed the call of God on my life.
Of course, going full-time wasn’t without its intense challenges. The biggest was this: I had to give up all self-sufficiency and control.
I joke that my initial fail-safe plan was to work hard, put aside savings, find a husband with a similar call, and one day move our whole family to the mission field. It was an absurd plan, but it felt so logical in my mind.
Over the years I’ve learnt that I have to surrender full control to God, from trusting Him to provide for me and my heart, to protecting me in dangerous war zones. I also have to depend on God to send others to support God’s work through me. I am completely dependent.
Sometimes to live in His peace, one has to sacrifice understanding.
There were many sacrifices in the initial years, chief of all being “understanding”. I didn’t understand where provision would come from, what mythree to five year plan was … When I first started out, I had many well-meaning people concerned that I was “throwing away my future”, others thought I was being too lofty and idealistic, impractical.
I had no answers for them; I really had nothing to show for myself – I didn’t even know where I was going for a while! All I had was the firm belief that God had placed a dream in my heart for the poor and broken, and I had to follow Him.
Washing the feet of villagers
In the Bible it talks about there being a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7): Sometimes to live in His peace, one has to sacrifice understanding.
The peace I’ve found is that God is most acquainted with the future, that when He calls, He provides. He always has an employment plan for those who work for Him. My dad used to tell me, “God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him.” I’ve found this to be true – my life is so fulfilling and genuinely happy.
It seems paradoxical for someone living in a war zone to feel this way, but there really is nothing else I want to do. Living by faith with no steady stream of income is baffling even to me, yet God has provided for my every need. What a wonderful thought, that God has made it His responsibility to watch over us!
Today, I work for a missionary organisation calledJustice Rising. I work alongside a team of missionaries who are sold-out lovers of God. They leave everything behind to risk their lives in a war zone – and most don’t even get paid for it!
One of the key ways we help to benefit these poor and broken communities is through education. We build all kind of schools – preschools, primary and secondary schools, carpentry and sewing schools. We also rundiscipleship training schools where locals from 16 to 60 years of age and every livelihood – farmers, mamas, pastors – come to be trained up as missionaries for their country.
With one of the mamas at church
There are many benefits to having a school. As the community learns good hygiene practices, plagues decrease and sanitation improves. Children are able to get help for the trauma issues they face.
Most importantly, we are able to disciple future generations in the things of God. Our students leave school not just knowing about God, but with a deep and personal walk with Him. They are theDaniels-in-training that will bring the wisdom of God before kings and leaders to shape their nation in the years to come.
Besides her primary work in the Congo with Justice Rising, Jemima currently oversees two slum schools in India, is helping to develop a large refugee settlement in the central Kenyan desert while working with survivors from the genocide in Rwanda, and is supporting a Burundian refugee community. If you’d like to support the work, please visit Justice Rising’s donation page to make a contribution.
“You’re a fresh grad. You should be able to commit to at least $300 a month to this savings plan.”
I stared blankly at my financial planner as she continued to ramble on with her graphs and numbers — my head was spinning. She asked me if I had a savings plan, or if I was planning to start one soon: “You’re not that young, you should really have a savings plan.”
A $300 monthly commitment sounded scary to me, but I was afraid to voice out my fear to her. She made it sound like any other fresh grad would be able to commit to that amount easily.
I got a little upset. Not with her … But with myself. I wanted to be able to agree to that $300 as easily and coolly as she did.
Why did I feel so poor?
LOVING MONEY KILLS
Just the other day, my friend was telling me about fearing life after graduation. He told me he desires to go into full-time ministry, but he has other things to consider. As the only child, he has ageing parents to support and wants to be financially ready for marriage in a few years. And while he’s still doing an internship now — many of his peers have already secured a full-time job.
I really want to serve God full-time, but money is this other big thing …
It wasn’t as though his concerns weren’t valid. But the reality is feeling poor doesn’t stop once we start earning a keep that we think is good enough. It doesn’t go away — it’s never going to be enough.
You might not be as rich as you thought you’d be by now, but that’s nowhere near as important as storing up treasures in heaven.
The more you have, the more you want. And more often that not, feeling poor stems from a place of discontentment and dissatisfaction.
I don’t think I’m being paid enough. I think I deserve a higher pay. Other people are doing better than me.
It all hinges on comparison from a point of reference in our minds. So we salivate over our fantasies of wealth, not realising they will also kill us (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
I think John Piper puts it best: “The love of money is suicidal. Jesus said it. Paul also said it. And Judas proved it (John 12:1–8).”
WANT ≠ NEED
Recently I went for a number of surgical procedures which amounted to a few thousand dollars. Unfortunately, the nurse made a mistake with my Medisave claim which I was only informed of months later — I would have to pay the full amount in cash.
It wasn’t even my fault! When I found out, I immediately began doing the mental sums. Just a week before this happened, I had booked my air tickets for a missions trip. So literally nothing went into my savings for that month. My wallet was bleeding, as was my heart.
I poured my heart out to God about my situation. But He had something else to say: “Why are you even feeling this way? I already gave you everything you needed.”
Honestly, it sounded like a platitude. But when I searched my heart, I knew I was looking at things from the wrong perspective – my own. My problem is that I always think that what I want is what I need.
But God already knows what we need. We won’t get everything we want, but we need to trust in the truth that God always provides and gives — and sometimes withholds lovingly (Matthew 6:33).
I wanted a few extra thousand dollars to cover my medical expenses and trip. I failed to see that God had already provided for those amounts beforehand – through my salary. God is our ultimate provider. He does so in ways that go largely unnoticed at times like our salaries, a freelance job or a blessing from a friend.
PLAN FINANCES WISELY
As we trust God to provide for the future, we also need to also be prudent in stewarding what we already have (Matthew 25:14-23). Some months back, my cellgroup member who used to work as a financial planner created a handy chart to help my cellgroup to steward our finances wisely.
“You have to set aside a budget for even the seemingly frivolous things like shopping, because if you don’t you’re only kidding yourself.”
She shared with us that financial planning is only effective when you’re honest with every aspect of your expenditure. It’s also good for us to do a reality check on our finances once in a while to ensure that we’re on the right track.
Create a financial plan that helps you to give generously and save wisely regardless of your circumstances.
Ultimately, nothing that we own is actually ours. Everything comes from and belongs to God, who has graciously provided for us.
I’ve seen money destroy relationships and cause conflicts. I’ve seen how love of money and obsession over it have changed people for the worse.
Money in itself isn’t evil. It can be good as a tool to accomplish things like blessing others or providing your family. But when money becomes your life’s goal, it becomes poison to your soul.
You stay in a job you hate just because it pays well. You make life difficult for yourself and even others just to keep your money. You choose to skip out on life’s milestones so you can hoard more.
Loving money is opposite to having faith in God’s character – trusting in His unending grace and supernatural provision. It is not believing God’s promises. We can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24-25). A heart fixated on money is one that isn’t locked onto who God is and what He has in store for our lives.
Fellow twenty-somethings, you might not be as rich as you thought you’d be by now, but that’s nowhere near as important as storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).
Trust in God. He has provided for you and He always will.