Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Money, Crisis & the Economy

The Malaysian government two weeks ago announced one of the most generous benefactions called "Bantuan Prihatin Nasional" amounting to RM250billion which is almost 17% of the nation's annual GDP. I don't know where the money is coming from, but many citizens in need will be helped in these challenging times. Even Singapore gave SGD600.00 to most of its citizens. On the 2nd Sunday of the PKP or MCO (Movement Control Order) I preached a Sunday sermon on money and managing finances. I spoke about four principles. First, the need to save or having a safety net (emergency fund) in times of crisis or emergency. I cited the example of Joseph how he stored away 20% of the wheat's surplus for 7 years until the 7 years of famine came. The lives of Egyptians and many nations were saved due to good financial management, savings and large surpluses.
It is therefore, extremely sad that in less that a month into the MCO, a number of Christian institutions have run out of funds and my local church received a number of requests for financial help. When I was Treasurer-General 25 years ago, I was heavily criticised for having an emergency fund of three months' worth of expenditure. I thought as an organisation, we should have at least three months of stock that should any emergency arise, we could draw from it instead of begging from others or running around for help. Singapore is a case in point. They have an undisclosed reserve fund that the government of the day could draw on (with the President's approval) during a crisis or emergency like what we are experiencing now. It is a simple concept of saving for a rainy day but alas many churches from top to bottom do not practise that.

I told my church leaders that the MCO could last for months as the daily infections have remained between 150-200 cases each day but it is not decreasing in a rate that we would want. We will suffer financial hardship if we are not careful with our money. It could take at least 6 months after the MCO is lifted before things could get back to normal, if ever. The second principle is "living according to our means" and not to get indebted if at all possible. The third is giving God our first-fruits which means part of our income in support of the ministry and the church. The fourth is multiplication of our money which I cited the "parable of the talents" in Matthew 25 and I argued that we should use our talents and skills to increase our incomes and when we are enriched by the Lord, our surplus funds could help many in need and go towards the mission work for the expansion of God's kingdom on earth.

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