Sydney to China is from a short article written in response to a question David is often asked; “you’re a businessman, what led to you founding ChinaHeart”. He was asked to capture his story in a brief article for Kingdom Connections Illawarra.
Have you ever seriously considered letting go of the plan for your life that you are holding onto? Your plan for where you want to be or what you want to be doing in 5 or maybe 10 years. I did and I don’t think I’m anything special in doing that.
I had been in business with my father for nearly 15 years when I recognised what my plan was. Dad started a small business many years earlier and it was quite successful. Like most small business people my week involved many more than the regulation 40 hours per week. This was the requirement so success could eventually be enjoyed. Many days began at 5.30am at the desk at home doing paperwork. Days were hectic, sales calls, tendering and hands on production and product development. Then another few hours back at the desk after others had gone home for dinner with their family.
I also began another business in which my wife Beth was to get more involved. But this was the lifestyle that would allow me to realise my vision. I was enjoying international travel most years, and Beth and I enjoyed plenty of time on the ski fields locally or in New Zealand.
Mixed into this hectic, dare I say, workaholic daily ritual, was an equally heavy workload in our local church. Into the week I also managed to squeeze leadership of two youth groups for many years and other leadership roles in the church at large. So if nights weren’t busy in the office they were equally busy in the church.
My plan was simple: by my late thirties to be back living on the waterfront with the yacht out the front and the BMW out the back; To continue my youth involvement through some Scripture teaching one afternoon a week and to be involved in twilight yacht racing. Things were coming together quite nicely to see that dream realised. Then I made a decision that impacted every part of my dream.
In 1996 I joined a team going to China for two weeks cycling in the southern province of Guangdong. With every rotation of those bike pedals I was peddling further from my planned dream and closer to a whole different reality. During that team and in the weeks that followed, I believe I heard God saying there was a new beginning coming and I was to go to Bible College. Beth and I weren’t in agreement for a while but then something changed and we were both hearing God say the same thing. However my father wasn’t hearing that when I went to discuss my resignation from the family business I was then managing.
The next few months were not just tense. The step Beth and I were about to take deeply saddened my father as his vision for the future of the business was also not going to be realised. During the next four years I completed my degree in ministry at Tabor Bible College and then waited, and waited and wondered what God was going to open up. Some other students had a clear vision of where they wanted to go after graduation, I didn’t. All we knew was I was meant to go to Tabor.
I returned to China in a team with my son to an orphanage in the northwest. Even more change was coming. I was asked to lead a team; this became coordinating orphanage teams and this led to re-birthing the mercy ministry in our mission. This was never in my future vision, where was my yacht and BMW?
My going to China three times that year was stressful for Beth who was left to manage our business. We felt led to ask a good friend to become our General Manager. It was a “God Thing” and in a few weeks Geoff was sitting at his new desk. He has done a great job with Beth keeping me out of the business and in China. After another couple of years I hired a young man to take over my graphics and marketing work so I could be in the ministry full time. The company has grown along with the ministry.
These nearly twenty years have not always been easy. But when you know you are in Gods plan, it’s the only place to be. ChinaHeart’s vision is to help bring change for China’s orphans and children living in poverty, 1 by 1. Our business gave us the platform from which to launch that vision. It greatly reduces overhead costs for ChinaHeart so nearly 90% of all gifts have been allocated to the children’s work in China. That’s the power of a business dedicated to God’s mission. I strongly believe Christian business people should be asking God if they should be using their business in a similar way. Just saying yes to God’s prompt to join a mission team changed the future for Beth, our three children and myself.
Pastor with Southern Cross Association of Churches
Founder and Executive Director of ChinaHeart International, Heart For Kids www.heartforkids.org
Founder and Managing Director of LST Group, www.LSTgroup.com.au
David often speaks with churches, social clubs and other groups. If you are interested in him speaking with your group please click here.