Jonathan Pak has become a dear friend. He’s a wonderful, kind man and deeply generous. He’s also humble. He gave us some glimpses into his story in the hope that you, generous friends, will be encouraged and inspired.
God May Test Your Integrity and Trustworthiness.
Jonathan’s financial planning firm in Korea has 95 advisors serving more than 10,000 clients. But before God gave him this successful business, Jonathan says, “I was very poor and didn’t have enough to run my family, because I could not find a job during an economic recession.” To secure a job in an insurance company, Jonathan’s Branch Manager wanted him to falsify a document about his career.
He told Jonathan, “You need to have been an advisor for four years, but you’ve only been here for one, so just change your career history and I’ll appoint you.”
Jonathan says, “God tested my integrity.” On the way back home after that conversation, “I said to God, ‘I regret being a Christian because I could make more money.’ But that was a lie. My salary was just $1000 (USD) per month. That’s not big money!”
“But this is the Christian life. I opened my Bible and the story where the Holy Spirit hindered Paul from going to Asia. I decided that I should not go faster than the Holy Spirit.” I told my company “no.”
Then a high-ranking officer in the company—even higher than the branch manager—heard about it and said, to Jonathan, “I heard you are such an honest person and because of your integrity, why don’t you join our company?” Jonathan says, “So God blessed me and I became a good income earner, and I learned how to pray and do business based on prayer.”
As God built his business, Jonathan gave more and more. “I was giving maybe 50 percent at that point” as he started his business. Jonathan says he gave “because I wanted to see what God would do; I wanted to say, ‘You are the One who blesses me.’ I had been poor, but God blessed me a lot. As that happened, people gathered around my company.”
God’s Financial Wisdom Changes Advising.
Jonathan connected with Kingdom Advisors in the U.S. and began translating the materials for all his advisors. Jonathan and his colleagues became more confident offering biblical advice to clients. “We let them know that there are powerful, transcendent principles of financial planning from the Bible,” says Jonathan.
For example, children in Korea may assess others’ families’ wealth by asking “How big is your house?” After a woman’s son complained that his classmates laughed at the size of his house, she came to one of Jonathan’s advisors and asked about going into debt for a bigger house. Jonathanasked “Why do you want a bigger house?” She said, “Because my child has been discouraged a lot, so I want to buy a bigger house.” Jonathan’s advisor asked, “How do you think God thinks about your plan?”
The lady was surprised, “Is God concerned about my borrowing money from the bank?” This Korean Kingdom Advisor showed her passages on debt and then said, “Why don’t we just pray about this for one week?” One week later, she said, “This is not right for me to borrow money with this kind of motivation.”
“These kinds of questions are a very Christian approach,” says Jonathan. “We tell clients: enjoy giving, prepare your eternity, avoid debt.”
God Will Call You to Seasons of Earning and Seasons of Learning.
“As a church member, it is sometimes tough,” says Jonathan. “There can be giving fatigue. Giving can feel like an obligation, like a duty. But when I joined the Journey of Generosity, I was surprised at the different talk about giving. I realized how far away my attitude was from the Lord’s attitude.”
Jonathan has continued to hear from God. He gave his position to new president. “I asked God, ‘Let me know your sign.’ He’s told me to go to seminary, but I’ll also keep speaking and encouraging financial advisors. My wife knows that I was very happy as a financial advisor, meeting with people and sharing the Gospel with them and encouraging them to follow Christ, so we plan to keep doing some of that.”
“God wants me to do something in this industry,” says Jonathan, but he’s discerned that his next step is to advise “not as a business, but as a ministry.”