By on February 3, 2016   /   12 Comments


In the summer of 1982, my mother and I boarded the biggest plane I’ve ever seen: a 747 jumbo jet, bound for a place known as “Beautiful Country”, the literal translation of the word “America” in Mandarin Chinese. As a 12-year-old boy, I had no idea what God had in store for my life.

Fourteen years later, and after much spiritual growth, I joined The Navigators ministry to reach college students for Christ. I still remember my staff orientation and how daunting it sounded to go out and raise my entire support. For the next 10 years, I struggled immensely with living and ministering from the ongoing financial gifts of others. Yes, I had studied the scriptures dealing with support raising, but for some reason I felt disconnected. I recalled what Jesus said in Matthew 7, “Ask, and you will receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened for you.” If this was true, then why was I finding it so hard to ask? Did it have anything to do with me being Asian and the cultural norms of indirectness and conflict avoidance? Despite my confusion, God remained faithful to provide the resources my wife and I needed.

Life and ministry were OK the first few years of our marriage, even though we were underfunded. But then God started to shine His Holy Spirit deep into my inner life and I realized I was performance driven. My motivations and desires were laced with a secret longing to be accepted. My soul constantly asked the Lord, “Will this please You? Will this act/behavior make You accept and love me?” As you can tell, I desperately needed God and His Word to root out these lies and set me free of my performance driven faith.

During this difficult time, the Lord revealed a painful childhood memory to show me one of the roots of my disconnect to support raising. One of my friends had received a really nice toy, and I wanted one too. When I asked my mother if she would buy me one, to my utter shock, she reached out and slapped my face! Then she harshly reprimanded me for wanting something so expensive. I knew we were not a wealthy family, and that my dad struggled to provide for us, but I had no idea the kind of stress my mom was under. That experience made such a lifelong impression on me that I determined, from that point on, in order to avoid punishment (or to be loved and accepted), I must be self-reliant and not ask anyone for anything! And for the next two decades, that’s how I lived my life—and that’s how I approached support raising too.

The Spirit started to reveal to me these unbiblical perspectives, and replaced them with the truth. One morning I was reading of Jesus’ crucifixion in the gospels, and it hit me hard. God seemed to be saying: “Ken, why do you still believe there is punishment from Me? My only son took it all away on the cross! There is no more punishment!”  I felt the world go quiet around me, and it was just me and my Abba Father talking. “I already love you and accept you completely and perfectly! Nothing will ever change that!” Tears were streaming out my eyes. I couldn’t believe how wrong I had been all those years! Then the explanation for the struggles I was experiencing in support raising became so obvious. How could I possibly ask God or others for anything if I think they will not only reject me, but punish me!

Yes, intellectually I had understood the principles behind support raising, but my motivations were coming from the wrong place. Because of the lies I believed since childhood, my view of support raising was that it was only about money—other people’s money! And since money can be a very volatile topic, support raising exposed my deepest fears and insecurities. The easy way out for me would be to conclude that since I’m culturally Asian, this model of direct and personal support raising just doesn’t work. But I am so thankful God didn’t allow me to use that excuse and quit! It was His plan all along to set me free, and to use this incredible process of raising support to transform me!

Now, I no longer associate asking with rejection or punishment like I did as a little boy. I discovered that no matter what people’s response might be after a face-to-face request for support, I’m still a beloved child of God. If He has the power and resources to speak the universe into existence, getting me to 100% is not an issue! This new outlook freed me up to truly enjoy the people I’m meeting with, and to enthusiastically invite them to partner with what the Lord is doing on the college campus. Praise God, I now even look forward to making the call and having the appointment, and to discover whom God has prepared in advance to join our team!

Now on my overseas flights, a 747 jet doesn’t feel so big to me anymore. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up. Likewise, God has used this extraordinary process of support raising to significantly grow me spiritually. What about you? What do you think God is trying to do in and through your life as you journey along this path of raising your support?


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