Monday, October 19, 2020

Faith & Financial Management

I learned my lessons young, thanks be to God! I realised in my early 20s how easy it was to spend money and how difficult it was to save or repay debts. I graduated and began work with a RM60,000.00 study loan. At first, I did not think much about it but two years into paying down the loan, I realised that it was not easy to pay off debts when one has many other financial commitments. But thanks be to God, and as a Christian I would sum up my financial management experience as "faith & worldly wisdom". It is a combination of believing and trusting in God, yet when making financial decisions, especially in taking loans or debts, a big dose of worldly wisdom is needed. So after repaying all my debts and financing my own theological education, I started full-ministry with practically nothing.

I have no money in the bank, no car, and no house. All my worldly possessions could be put into a few bags as we did when we travelled in a van to Melangkap, a village at the foot of Mount Kinabalu in 1994. After becoming a pastor, I bought my first car in 2002, in my final months as a doctoral student. I saved up one third of the purchase price and took out a loan for 3 years. Until today I had held on the principle that I would not get a car loan longer than 3 years. If in any event I needed to sell the car, then I would not suffer much loss even with depreciation. When I took out a loan for my first home I was 43 years old, it was on a 12-year mortgage as I did not want to be tied down beyond 55 years old. I can only praise the Lord that I managed to pay off my mortgage a year early before I needed to dip into my retirement savings (EPF) which I had to last year when I waited almost a whole year before my current pastorate. When I looked back, humanly it was totally insane how I had led my life but surely and truly God's Word is true that if you "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:33). None of my possessions were purchased due to my own financial ability or wealth. All was given to me by the Lord through many miracles and answers to prayers. Like Jacob when he returned from Midian to Bethel, he said, "I am not worthy, O Lord of all your grace and truth." (Gen 32:10). Jacob left home empty-handed but returned to his homeland with two companies. God is indeed great and faithful and those who trust in Him will suffer no lack and He adds wealth without sorrows for whomever He wills. 

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