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Our Journey to ‘YES’: Jill & Jason Hwang

Tell me a little about how you first got involved with World Relief?

JASON: I made my first donation to World Relief in 2005, as a graduate student. At the time, a big focus of my church was financial discipleship and I’d sat through many sermons and scriptural teachings on generosity. In seeking out opportunities to hear people talk about stewardship, I learned about World Relief. It seemed like a great opportunity to begin giving in a small way.

JILL: Before Jason and I met, I’d been in the midst of a season where I was thinking a lot about loving the ‘least of these’ and feeling a calling in this area. I was an immigration attorney at the time but I wanted to grow in serving the most vulnerable in different ways. After Jason and I got married in 2008, we started making joint financial decisions, and it was amazing to see how God had really been preparing both of our hearts to come together in partnership around this calling to give. World Relief was an area where both of our passions and callings, Jason’s to financial stewardship and mine to service, merged together. That was 10 years ago and we’ve been giving ever since.

Tell me about your own decision making process when it came to charitable giving? Why do you give?

JASON: Over the last decade, I’ve really grown in my conviction that our life is not our own and that we are stewards of the time that God gives us—as well as of our resources and opportunities. That’s something I want to be reminded of often. It’s easy to feel that life is just about us and our three kids, but it really isn’t. And I find that going beyond our own needs and giving with joy is a tangible way in which I experience God’s grace.

JILL: For me, it’s a way for my heart to grow. I want to invest my heart in the things that God cares about and financial giving is one way of doing that.

How did you decide what and where to give? What was important for you?

JILL: I’m an immigration attorney. And a lot of what World Relief does, and where they work, well that’s where my clients are often coming from. So being able to engage in that area, know the backgrounds and stories of my clients, it helps me to view them more fully. It’s easy to lose sight of what our everyday work is all about, but having the bigger picture, a fuller picture, is a good reminder of the realities of what is happening in the world and the things that are on God’s heart.

What drew you to World Relief in particular?

JASON: After we got married, we started attending a few World Relief events. And there was one that really struck a chord with us, where we heard from Pastor Marcel from Congo. He talked about violence against women in Congo and how many of the women in his church were victims of physical and sexual violence. The consequences he spoke about, both physical and emotional, were just devastating. We also became deeply aware of the challenges of ministering in that environment and how difficult it must be. And we wanted to support that.

JILL: We knew we wanted to support work in areas where the need was great, and we also wanted to support churches and pastors. World Relief gave us the opportunity to do both of those things. We love that there’s a focus on the local church; that there’s intentionality on empowering local people, and local communities, to seek out transformation and lead it themselves. It feels good to know we’re investing in local institutions that, when the work of an NGO comes to an end, will still be there.

What motivates you to continue giving today?

JILL: It’s really a response, and a step, of faith for us. I think often when we think about giving, it’s easy to think ahead to results, and what the financial giving can accomplish. But over the years I think the biggest realization for us has been that our giving really does feel like a step of faithfulness, regardless of what God will do with it. Maybe it’s something big, maybe it’s something small and maybe it’s something we may never see or know about—but whenever and however the results come about, it’s ultimately in God’s hands. The giving itself is a response of faith, an opportunity to trust God and grow our hearts.

JASON: We try to make our financial decisions based on the idea that being a follower of Jesus is a serious thing, so wanting to be an authentic Christian is a powerful part of my motivation. And I also find that giving to support the needs of others ultimately helps me overcome my own anxieties about the future.

How has your life been impacted or changed since you started giving to World Relief?

JILL: I’d say the world feels a little bit closer. Specifically, what God is doing in the world feels a little bit closer to us. It’s grown our hearts toward the suffering of vulnerable people. And toward those that find themselves as refugees in different parts of the world. We feel invested in these areas and communities that we’re learning about. And it’s also a way for us to invite our children into this journey and learning as they get older.

What would you say to other families that are thinking about giving to World Relief or another organization like World Relief? What advice or encouragement would you give?

JILL: I’d say, if you feel a nudge, follow it. Take a step of faith. So much of this is about our response. If we learn to leave our fears and expectations with God and just take a small step of faith, giving however little or much he calls us to, that’s a process of growing our hearts and growing in faithfulness—that’s worthwhile.

JASON: I’d say, you should learn more. The needs of the world often sound so overwhelming and it’s easy to think, ‘What difference can I actually make?’ in a totally different part of the world. But World Relief offers so many resources and opportunities to overcome that barrier. Those resources were really what moved me beyond the mental distance.

I’d also add that it’s so helpful to connect with other people and take this journey together. You know, sometimes financial giving can feel private, but having a community and culture of giving with people around you who are willing to take the same risks, support one another and remind one another of the importance of it has been really helpful. It’s so much easier to be give faithfully when you have friends who are doing the same thing, who have caught the same vision of discipleship and who want to do this together. So I’d say if you’re thinking about giving, see if you can find a small group of friends through church or another context who might want to share in the journey.

Are you ready to find your ‘YES’?

Francesca Albano currently serves as Director of Branded Content at World Relief. With a background in Cultural Anthropology and a graduate degree in Strategic Marketing Communications, she connects her interests in societal studies and global cultures with her training in brand strategy and storytelling. Francesca is especially passionate about grassroots community development and the treatment and advancement of women and girls around the world.

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