April Tam Smith is everything you’d expect a young professional in New York City to be: educated, hardworking, and successful. She’s also living a life of generosity in a place that defines success by how much money you make. Today she shares about how God has guided her to this place.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background and how money was viewed in your family.
I was born in Hong Kong and moved to the U.S. with my parents when I was 11.
Money was a point of tension in our family. We didn’t come here with much and struggled financially. I remember my parents fighting about money. There was a lot of blame about how the other handled things.
About a year after we arrived in the U.S., my mom pulled me aside and said, “You need to start thinking about our finances. In two years, we’re going to run out of money.”
That didn’t happen, but it took years and the gospel to undo the thought that money equals security.
Looking back, I see God’s provision in so many ways. I attended MIT and was able to do that practically free because of our financial situation. I got a degree in engineering but stumbled into finance immediately after graduation and have been working in that area ever since. It’s something God put in my hands and gifted me with, which helps me look at what I have with genuine gratitude.
What did the beginning of your journey of generosity look like?
Even though I was making much more than I ever expected right out of college, I didn’t have a healthy relationship with money. Security was my idol and it felt like a constant battle to handle my finances well—to do the “right” thing—and surrender all of it to God.
My faith was pretty lukewarm during my college years. After I started my career, God used several events to grow my faith. The first was a break-up. I was in a serious relationship with a non-believer and God began asking me: What do you love more? In obedience, I ended the relationship.
A few weeks later, my mom’s twin sister—a woman like a second mother to me—passed away very suddenly. It was another opportunity to cling tightly to my Heavenly Father.
As I learned to trust Him in one situation, it became easier to trust Him in the next. So when He provided the opportunity to go on a mission trip, I knew I could surrender my time, my energy, my comfort into His hands. Working on the trading floor, vacation time is scarce so the trip felt like a “sacrifice,” in addition to “discomfort,” but I was excited to take a leap of faith.
Who encouraged you as you began that journey? Did you face any resistance?
At that time in my life, I didn’t really know how to think about money. So I fasted and prayed, asking God what He wanted me to do. He gave me a number that was so scary I refused to write it down in my prayer journal even though I was already writing and praying as I heard it! But the number kept coming back to me.
As I was wrestling through that, l had the opportunity to meet Janice Worth. She invited me to my first experience with Women Doing Well. Only two weeks after that I got a chance to attend my first Journey of Generosity event with 12 other women. To keep a long story short, I took that step of faith, gave what God asked me to give, and He truly provided, almost to a T!
That decision was difficult for my parents. Culturally, it’s understood that you provide for your family first. My mom thought I’d lost my mind! But God has given me the means to care for them and to give where He guides.
April’s story continues on Thursday, where she’ll share more about the new adventure God has called her to, one she calls “the scariest thing I’ve ever done.”