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.
Early this year, 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 first snippet and we hope this encourages you in your relationship with God.
Having just celebrated your 80th birthday in late 2017 Jim, can you share with us what motivates you to get up in the morning and do the Lord's work?
I am not a morning person but I make sure I have one appointment each day. Every person is different. For me, what motivates me is people. I am a people person. I have just spent an hour today doing a prayer walk with a friend. We walked 5km to 6km praying.
As a Christian, spending quiet time with God is crucial, fulfilling and yet sometimes it could become monotonous. Can you describe for our readers how your quiet time with God looks like now, compared to when you first became a Christian?
When I first received the Lord, I had my first real quiet time when I was just 10 years old and 10 days. It was on 24 Dec 1937. I received the Lord just the previous night and the very next morning, my father had a quiet time with me and that was very precious. He explained that it was very important to read the Bible (I don't think he called it a quiet time) because the Bible was God's love letter to me. I never forgot that. It was not a dry book. It was a very intimate time. So my Dad got me started by giving me a pattern. We had Scripture Union notes but he told me that the Bible is important, not the SU notes. So, I followed the Scripture reading, which I did and after the first five years, I read the whole Bible once. I never missed my quiet time since that day till today. And I think it was because my Dad motivated me straight away. You know, I love the Bible but I needed to see it as a devotional book, not just something to increase my knowledge.
Over the years, I would say the pattern of my quiet time with the Lord would change but the underlying reason for having a quiet time has not. It's very personal, it's devotional. Currently, I want to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord. The ingredients of a quiet time are basic: prayer and the Word. You need both, you cannot have one without the other so it's communicating with the Lord.
I began as a new believer with about 15 minutes with the Lord a day. I encourage people through a booklet called 'Seven Minutes with God'. To start with seven minutes, they can do it. I encourage people to have it with the Lord in the morning - begin the day with the Lord. Jesus did that in Mark 1:35. And He did it in the midst of a very busy ministry – He began the day with the Lord. David did it in the morning. In fact, I think it’s more than just in the morning. Daniel did it three times a day so these were people who walked with God. Now, this is not to put people on a guilt trip if they miss their morning quiet time. This applies especially for women with responsibilities as mothers who have to be more flexible. But for men, I don't think you can excuse yourself if you don't begin the day with God. When I lead people to the Lord, that's the first spiritual habit (spiritual discipline) I would seek to build into their lives. We all need that. This time alone with God, or whatever you want to call it - the quiet time or morning watch – this time with God is a very important time. And I often have it with someone because I don't want them to look at it as a kind of legalistic ritual but a meaningful, personal and devotional appointment. As a Chinese evangelist said, 'No Bible, no breakfast.' It's kind of negative but you get the point: have it in the morning.
I would recommend people evaluate the reasons they have their quiet time. For me, worship is key because God desires my worship so I always incorporate it into my quiet time. (John 4:23-24). There are moments in my life when I just go to the piano and I play, sing and worship. God made us enjoy music. That's an important part of my worship of the Lord.