“Do we trust in God’s abundance, or operate from a fear of lack?”: Missionary family sees God’s provision again and again
by Janice Tai // August 20, 2021, 8:06 pm
Kenny, Amy and their son, Joshua, in their Tampines flat. “Just a few months ago, we had $30k. To me, getting a flat was impossible. But the Lord provided every single thing, step by step. He is the God of the possible,” said Kenny. All photos courtesy of the Tan family.
Amid the raging pandemic and soaring property prices late last year, a young missionary family found themselves hunting for an HDB flat in Singapore.
Singaporean Kenny Rason Tan, 39, and his American Vietnamese wife, Amy Nguyen, 36, had just returned home from serving in Cambodia. Kenny was supporting a local church planting movement there while his wife was working with a local charity that serves sex-trafficked victims.
Having been away on missions for the past eight years, the couple decided to return to Singapore with their then five-month-old son, so that their parents can enjoy spending time with their grandson.
Though many international borders were closed, the couple figured they could continue serving the nations from Singapore with the help of technology.
They welcomed Kenny’s brother’s generous offer of staying in his flat in Tampines, where his parents were also living, enabling the extended family to be together.
But one day in October last year, the Lord spoke to Kenny.
“He spoke to me three times, saying, ‘Kenny, I want you to leave the house.'”
Upon speaking to his wife, Kenny discovered that God had had the same conversation with her, though she admitted that she struggled to understand the need for incurring the huge expense of buying their own house. Especially when they might not be in Singapore for long.
“We just went ahead to act in faith, though the situation seemed impossible.”
But the couple obeyed God’s leading.
They went online to PropertyGuru to search for a three-room flat. The family is fostering a young adult, and figured they needed one room for him and another for themselves and their baby. Amy is also pregnant with their second child.
There was just one major problem: Kenny only had $30,000 in his bank account and another $60,000 in his Central Provident Fund (CPF). The amount was not enough to even cover the cost of a one-room flat in Singapore. His wife is not a Permanent Resident and they assumed they would not be able to get much in housing grants.
“We just went ahead to act in faith, though the situation seemed impossible,” said Kenny.
A faith-stretching house hunt
In their house-hunting, the pair realised that property prices in Singapore were skyrocketing due to various factors such as low interest rates, delays in Build-To-Order flats and rising social confidence with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
While they were on their property hunt, a good friend told them about her prophetic dream. In her dream, she saw them in a spacious four-room flat, very close to their parents’ home.
Did that mean they should start searching for a four-room flat in Tampines, the couple wondered.
Notwithstanding the fact that such a flat would likely cost some $450,000, they began tweaking their search, trusting in God’s guidance at every step.
“Don’t bother looking at this unit … You better go down and ask your bank if they would lend you money.”
Their housing agent was understandably doubtful.
“This unit, if you don’t have at least $400,000, don’t bother looking at it. You don’t know what is IPA (In-Principle Approval) or HLE (HDB Loan Eligibility)? You better go down and ask your bank if they would lend you money,” he advised the bewildered couple.
Indeed, Kenny’s annual income was too low for the banks to consider offering a loan.
As he headed to HDB to check if he could qualify for grants, his expectations were low.
He was pleasantly surprised to learn, however, that they could give him a grant of $140,000. That was something, though his finances still fell vastly short.
When he mentioned to his parents that he could buy over their own four-room flat in Tampines which was currently being rented out, his parents had a counter proposal.
“We do not need such a large space. Why don’t you take over our four-room flat and just buy us a three-room flat in return?” they said.
The arrangement was generous and feasible, though Kenny and his wife were still about $100,000 short to buy a three-room flat for their parents.
But when Kenny applied for an HDB loan, lo and behold, despite his unstable income, he managed to secure an HDB loan for the required amount.
“To me, getting a flat was impossible … But the Lord provided every single thing, step by step.”
But this was not the end of the story.
In the lead-up to the signing of the HDB loan contract, Kenny found himself preaching in a church on the topic of “Financial Freedom in Turbulent Times”.
One of the points he was led to speak on – “give, lend, cancel debts, but try not to be in debt” – convicted his own heart.
“Borrowing is not a sin, but I felt God had put it on my heart to trust Him for a loan-free, debt-free situation concerning my flat,” said Kenny.
As he and his wife pressed on in prayer for their house, he received dreams that pointed him to God’s assurance that he would come into the land of his possession (Deuteronomy 2:12) and God would give him the power to obtain wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).
On the very morning of the day he was to meet an HDB officer to sign the loan contract, Amy received a timely call from her parents.
They had heard about the couple’s situation and offered them the money they needed. It turned out that her parents had already set aside some money to give to each of their children in future.
The HDB loan was rendered unnecessary.
Since last month, Kenny and his family have a four-room flat in Tampines to call their own, with his brother’s family living in the next block and his parents soon to buy a three-room flat nearby.
“Just a few months ago, we had $30k. To me, getting a flat was impossible as people take years to pay off the mortgage for their house. But the Lord provided every single thing, step by step. He is the God of the possible,” said Kenny.
$200 in the bank
One of the topics Kenny now teaches to digital audiences is about finding financial freedom amidst a global climate of fear and uncertainty.
“Is financial freedom about having a sufficient retirement nest egg, or being very careful in making financial plans? To me, it is being free – not only from lack – but from the fear of impending lack,” said Kenny.
Like many others whose sense of security lies in their storehouses of possessions, Kenny had also struggled with a fear of lack in the past. That fear led him to juggle several ad-hoc jobs on top of his studies for financial security.
A turning point that transformed the way Kenny viewed financial security came when he was working with Singapore Airlines as a flight steward. The pay and allowances he was receiving were generous.
“I could sit down in a restaurant and order anything I wanted without looking at its price. It was a huge change from my poorer student days,” said Kenny, who found himself enjoying his flying days immensely.
During that time, God called him into ministry three times by speaking to him in three different countries.
One call occurred when he was in a hotel room in the United States after spending a day out at Disneyland. That night, Kenny wept with reverent awe as he sensed the Lord in his room.
“Kenny, when your bond ends, I want you to resign from your job,” God told him.
Despite the dramatic encounter, he still struggled with God’s request.
“Kenny, from now on, I will supply all your needs for the rest of your life,” came God’s reply.
His bond was ending in April, just a few months shy of July, when his six months bonus was due. He also had not used his free flight ticket and any of his 21 days of leave yet. He had been hoarding all of these to use on a long holiday around the world.
But he found himself saying: “Yes, Lord.”
No other answer would do.
“Kenny, from now on, I will supply all your needs for the rest of your life,” came God’s reply.
God kept His word. After Kenny resigned from his Singapore Airlines job, he went into full-time ministry at his church for three years before emptying his bank account to go to Canada for a ministry internship.
When he returned to Singapore in 2015 after his internship, he had only $200 in his bank account.
“Most of us do not want to be a Singaporean guy in our early 30s with no established career or ministry, no savings, no wife, no kids, no house and $200 in your bank,” said Kenny ruefully. “Why don’t we want to be in that position, even if God has said He will supply our needs for the rest of our life?
“That is because, for most of us, our entire sense of security, confidence and safety are linked to our financial situation.”
The toughest course: Waiting
His parents assumed it was time for him to start work. But God told him to “rest and wait upon Him” for his next steps.
After resting and waiting upon the Lord for three, four, five months without any further sign, Kenny started feeling restless and anxious.
“Who could ever think resting and waiting is actually one of the toughest things a Singaporean Christian guy can do?”
By this time, he would wake up crying every morning, asking God what He wanted him to do.
God simply replied: “Who are you?”
Kenny proffered the textbook answer: “I am your beloved son, in whom You are well pleased”, before continuing to bawl his eyes out.
“Who could ever think resting and waiting is actually one of the toughest things a Singaporean Christian guy can do?” he recalled with a chuckle.
“It’s so tough because we are so used to doing one thing after another. It must be a seamless flow of studying, working and climbing the ladder. There should be no unexpected resting and waiting.
“I think this season was important for me because the waiting surfaced all of these things in my heart,” said Kenny.
“No matter what one does, whether resting or knee-deep in ministry work, as long as it is within God’s will, He will provide for it.”
His sabbatical lasted one year. During this time, Kenny determined in his heart not to take any money from his parents.
If God wanted him to rest and wait, Kenny believed that God would supply all his needs.
“I had hit zero in my bank account over and over again. But I also had people come up to me at the last minute to just say, ‘The Lord gave me a dream last night of passing you money. And so, here’s $500, here is $1,000.’
“That is how God took care of me during this period.
“It doesn’t mean I had to eat curry rice with no chicken, just the gravy or whatever. No. The Lord made it such that I was even able to take holidays to Germany, Switzerland and France. People would come up to me with a blank cheque to say, ‘God wants you to go for a holiday and I will help fund it’,” he said with wonder.
At the end of that one year, Kenny became convinced about one truth: No matter what one does, whether resting or knee-deep in ministry work, as long as it is within God’s will, He will provide for it.
The girl and the ring, too
Since then, Kenny has been living a life of faith, trusting in God’s supernatural providence. All these years, he said, he has never found himself in need.
“For most of us, our entire sense of security, confidence and safety are linked to our financial situation.”
Instead, the Lord made it possible for him to travel on more than 10 trips a year (before Covid-19) to various nations for missions, as well as to give to the pastors, missionaries and the poor there.
Though he does not have a salaried job, God also blessed him with the ability to propose to his wife in the Philippines and even have weddings in three countries.
“People ask me why I have so many crazy stories of supernatural provision. One aspect of it is that I make room for miracles, for Him to provide for me,” said Kenny.
When he intended to propose to his wife, he approached his jeweller friend in Singapore to commission a ring. The friend asked for his budget, and he ventured to give a $300 figure.
“$300 can, just the ring, no stone,” his friend replied with a laugh.
Knowing that his wife liked blue sapphires, he replied: “Okay, just choose a decent sized blue sapphire gem for me. Don’t give me a quotation, just let me know when it is ready and I will come up with the money.”
A few days before he was due to collect the ring, Kenny asked God for a confirmation that his wife would say ‘yes’ to his proposal.
Kenny prayed for a miracle: “God, let the sign be that I will receive the price of the ring – which I do not know the price of – down to the dollar.”
On Friday, someone came up to him and gave him $1,000. On Saturday, another person gave him $300, another passed him $100 and two others gave him $50 each. It totalled $1,500.
On Sunday when he went to collect the ring, his friend told him that, out of goodwill, he was cutting out all the labour costs and was only charging him for the ring’s raw material costs, which came up to $1,500.
Thanks to God’s provision, Kenny got the ring and the girl as well.
Kenny not only looks to God to provide for his needs, Kenny also looks to God to guide his giving.
There was a time when his spiritual grandson in Cambodia was hoping to set up a recording studio and needed about $2,000 to do so.
“Financial freedom is being free – not only from lack – but from the fear of impending lack.”
Kenny had the money, but was careful to steward it well. In seeking confirmation from the Lord, Kenny said to the boy: “If God gives me $2,222, then I will know it is yours.”
A month later, Kenny was in Singapore to conduct workshops for two weekends, for which he received love gifts. After preaching at a church, he also received love gifts. That night, he tallied up all the money he had received and the amount came up to $2,222.
“I was so excited. It encouraged me so much and it encouraged my spiritual grandson so much, to know that the setting up of the recording studio was of Him,” said Kenny.
Kenny thought he had no problems with giving, since he had emptied his bank account to go for mission trips often enough.
Yet God wanted him to learn how to give unto others even more extravagantly.
“But I am a missionary. I am usually on the receiving end, not the giving end,” Kenny told God.
“You are created in My image. If I am a giver, then you are a giver,” God had replied.
God showed him how to give extravagantly when he was hosting a group of missionaries. They were in a cab and he was about to drop them off at the airport.
“Give $50 to the cab driver,” God prompted Kenny.
“Kenny, I’m giving you your first 100-fold blessing. You give $50, I’m giving you $5,000.”
Kenny protested, thinking: “The car cannot remain for long at the drop-off point. I would not have time to share the Gospel with the driver after giving him the $50 tip.”
“I didn’t ask you to share the Gospel, I asked you to give,” came God’s swift reply.
Kenny dutifully complied.
At the end of that week, he received a cheque of $5,000 from his dentist who wanted to support his ministry.
“When I received that $5,000, the Lord spoke to my heart, ‘Kenny, I’m giving you your first 100-fold blessing. You give $50, I’m giving you $5,000.’”
Uncannily, a similar incident happened that same week. Kenny felt led to give $100 to a young missionary boy who came for his workshop. At the end of that workshop, a woman emailed him that she had just come into an inheritance, which she had not tithed. She transferred $10,000 into his bank account.
“And then the Lord spoke to me again. You gave $100, I’m giving you 100-fold of $10,000. I am not propagating any formula here but God was showing me how to give and receive extravagantly,” said Kenny.
With the love gifts, he found he had about $20,000 in his bank account. Immediately, Kenny called a pastor in Cambodia, whom he knew had been praying for a van for his church. Kenny offered the money to the pastor to buy a van.
“Why am I so ready to give money away? Because everything – literally everything – belongs to the Lord. Everyone asks for spiritual gifts, like the gift of prophecy, of tongues, or of working miracles, but have you ever seen anyone asking the Lord for the gift of giving?” said Kenny with a chuckle.
“When you look at money or your possessions, learn how to hold it with an open palm. When you hold money like this, money goes out very easily. But you also receive very easily.
“When you clench your hand and try to grab money instead, it may not drop out easily, but you don’t receive any either,” he added.
Kingdom abundance or scarcity mindset?
Initially Kenny had felt discomfort in receiving gifts. But God taught him to receive with humility and appreciation as well.
Once when Kenny was conducting a conference on the Father Heart of God in the Philippines, a woman in her 40s ran back home and took a stack of money, about $1,500 worth of pesos.
“Kenny, this is my life savings. This is all I have and I’m giving it to you. The Lord put it on my heart to bless your team,” she told him.
“Having $10 million in your bank will not free you from such a fear because it can disappear at the snap of a finger.”
“Some people in my team were pretty well to do. The typical Singaporean response would be to say, ‘Sister, thank you. Please keep the money for yourself. We have enough.’ But did Jesus do that to the woman who offered her two last copper coins? Imagine if He told her, ‘I have all the riches in heaven. I don’t need this. Keep it for yourself,’” said Kenny.
Kenny and his team received her money with joy, and trusted God to bless her abundantly.
“If you have a lot of reservation taking that money, most likely you may be thinking that if she gives you her money, she will not have enough. And that is how we think about ourselves. If we give away our money, we will not have enough. That is operating on the world’s system and economy – the principle of scarcity that says that resources are scarce, therefore we need to assign them properly.
“But God’s Kingdom is not based on scarcity. God’s Kingdom is based on the principle of abundance,” he said.
Some people have commented on how God seemed to intervene in Kenny’s life “in the nick of time”, such as providing him with the money for the house and the engagement ring just in time.
“The backup that every Christian should have is God’s promise that He will provide. Is His word enough?”
“This makes it sound like God is deliberately waiting until you are desperate then He shows up. As if He wants to play hero. As if He needs that applause. No, God is not like that. Why did things come just in time? It came as daily bread,” said Kenny.
He gave the example of a parent who prepares lunch for the children.
“You don’t get your kids coming to you and saying, ‘Oh, thank God you cook lunch just in time because I’m starving. No. lunchtime is at 12 every day and the parent knows when the child will get hungry, and the food will come at that time. God feeds us manna daily, like He did the Israelites, so that there is trust and reliance.
“If you would trust in Him and in that daily bread, then you live in financial freedom,” he added.
For those who find themselves in tough circumstances through the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, Kenny urges: “Fall back on the promise that God will meet all of our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
“Secondly, wait on God and ask Him what His assignment is during this time.
“It could be anything, from resting to furthering your studies, spending time with family or starting a business. Hold on to it and wait for it,” said Kenny.
“Let our prayers, supplications and tears not be about begging God for money but about our calling.”
With the financial aspect of our lives put in its rightful place, then the work that we do can truly become worship unto the Lord.
“Work is meant to be your calling and worship onto God. It is not just a means for you to pay the bills or provide for your family. The Lord provides for your family.
“Financial freedom means being free from the fear of impending lack. Having $10 million in your bank will not free you from such a fear because it can disappear at the snap of a finger. The backup that every Christian should have is God’s promise that He will provide. Is His word enough?” asked Kenny.
His family intends to settle in Singapore for now to raise their young children and to be present for the young adult whom they have taken into their home. However, they are open to going wherever the Lord sends them.
“Whatever God puts on our plate, whether it is our family, the job that God calls us to, our spheres of influence – that is what we’re responsible for. He will supply all of our needs so that we are able to focus on our calling.
“So let our prayers, supplications and tears not be about begging God for money but about our calling.”