Early last year in 2018, ISMNZ Communication Manager, Yvette interviewed the high-flying elder Jim Chew using a video call from Western Bay of Plenty to Wellington.
Here is the second snippet and we hope this encourages you in your relationship with the Lord.
We often hear how people deal with times of leanness. Could you share with us how you (and Selene) live in times of abundance?
I belong to a group called the Global Generosity Network (GGN) with Lausanne Movement and the World Evangelical Alliance. In order to encourage people to be generous, you also have to be generous. I’m also an economist, that’s my background so I learned to budget long ago. I’ve also learned to increase on giving because actually it’s on God’s goodness. I have never, ever been in a situation in which I have given no matter what sum, whether in the hundreds or thousands or millions and God hasn’t multiplied that. So I can vouch for the principle that you cannot out-give God because we belong to a very generous Creator. I enjoy actually the ministry of fundraising and I have been involved in several projects, not raising money for myself but building projects such as church buildings or Navigator buildings where we raised literally millions. I trusted Him for that and He has provided for God’s servants whether here in New Zealand or Asia.
I am travelling next month to Asia to have a thanksgiving lunch with people who have given to our work in ministry, some of them in the thousands and some even more, of their time and effort. I do that not just to raise more funds but to thank people. I noticed that [the apostle] Paul in the book of Philippians, they gave to him generously and he was a partner to them. He prayed for them regularly and he thanked them profusely. Paul was a fundraiser in the real sense of the word as he raised funds for the poor in Jerusalem. He didn’t say, ‘Okay, you kind of live by faith and kind of trust God.’ He just told them, ‘I want you to give. When I come, you better get the money ready because I am taking it with me.’ In my experience people gave a lot towards our ministry so yeah, generosity is so important.
Some people really like certain authors when you ask them what they are reading or listening to. Are there any favourite books, quotes or sermons that continue to inspire you time and time again?
Certainly. I think reading is extremely important. When I was a young Christian, I was told you spend 90% of your time reading the Bible and 10% on other books. It is probably good for a young person to make the Bible as the source. My own Dad taught me that. But even in my younger days I found that there are certain authors and biographies that I read that really influenced me. For example, I came to the Lord through J Oswald Sanders and he’s written scores of books in relation to the Christian life and they are all excellent. And my Dad came to the Lord through E Stanley Jones and he’s another favourite author. He spoke on the song of Ascent and it’s one of my favourites and I read a few times. While I was in university I got acquainted with John Stott so I read a lot of his books, practically all of them.
And John Stott was your friend too.
Yes, I know John Stott personally and he taught me how to get deeper into the Scriptures and mentored me in the sense of getting me out of the rut of being in a systematic theology which I grew up with the [open] Brethren, some good but some can be a little legalistic. And he really got me to see the Bible as a whole and to enjoy all of Scripture. So Stott, besides his books, his sermons, his messages you get on YouTube, etc he is good value. Those were from my younger years.
There are certain textbooks that helped me in disciple making like the Training of the Twelve by A B Bruce and The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman. I know Dr Coleman personally, a close friend over the years. And we worked together on disciple making. Those are some of the books and authors that I’ve read. Most of these authors that I mentioned are with the Lord.
Currently, there are good writers, some are heavy going like N T Wright or Tom Wright. I really enjoy his stuff. I think I’ve read most of his ‘tomes’ and enjoyed them. I also got on to YouTube to listen to some of his sermons as well as question answer times - they are all very good. Now the thing about great theologians like that you got to be a little bit careful. It doesn’t mean you got to agree with everything they say because when you read a book, you got to think and reflect. And usually it doesn’t mean one person has got all the answers. So even when I use a commentary, (usually there are good commentaries written) I wouldn’t take a commentary written by just one person for all the 66 books of the Bible because rarely is there someone who can get a deep grasp of the 66 books. But there are some who really specialised in Scripture like the letters of Paul or the Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke, John], so I like the New International commentary of the OT and NT. Now these are heavy stuff but it helps me to go deep. Now in my younger days, I read commentaries but did not depend on that because my mentors told me not to do so but I wish I did to get the help especially you know read the Bible and that’s enough but the Bible’s got a Jewish background and it [the New Testament] was written in Greek so the people back then really understood the context. I am not a great historian, I wish I was, but I’m not a great person knowing the background of all cultures. These things really motivate me to go deeper so I can love my Bible and understand it better. So people like Tom Wright helps me to get deeper. I have some personal theological friends that I connect with like Christopher Wright who was mentored by John Stott and as taken over the mantle. We communicate off and on and he recommends books of course like Mission of God and Mission of God’s People. These are basics to me because my background is, or rather, my passion is missions so these help me very much. And there are people with good theology like Don A Carson, I like him. You can get his YouTube videos. I enjoy listening to him, reading his commentaries. And there are people like Tim Keller who is very contemporary so he writes about contemporary issues appealing to the Millennial Generation and so on. I like him.
People are afraid of theology. Theology is only something of how you can know God. Theos means God. The study of God. Knowing God is knowing Jesus. I find that theology has to lead me in that direction rather than just increasing my knowledge. In my older years right now, I really want to focus more and more on the Lord Himself. And my passion for Him. Reading the Gospels for example, they all have contexts and being a missionologist myself, cultural anthropology is important to me. I need to know the cultural context of the Bible so I do read books by Kenneth Bailey, he’s just passed away recently (in early 2018), just on the background of Jesus’ parables and so on. They are very, very rich and you can hear him on YouTube. And there are many missions books I like to read because these are missionologists and anthropologists, etc so they give me deeper perspectives of cultures.