John Avanzini speaks frankly about why Christians need to get the right thinking about wealth.
Contributed By Seow Jieying
John Avanzini preached about faith and expectation at last weekend’s services, giving City Harvest Church a whole new perspective on how miracles happen. The topics of financial miracles and Biblical economics are Avanzini’s forte—he has authored over 50 books on them.
Born in Paramaribo, Surinam in South America in 1936, Avanzini was raised and schooled in Texas, USA, and received his doctorate in philosophy from Baptist Christian University in Louisiana. He and his wife Patricia have five grown children and many grandchildren.
Avanzini has been a friend to CHC since its early days, and his messages have encouraged and benefited many. City News talks to him about some basic financial beliefs that will help Christians to gain freedom over debt.
Many have been blessed by your messages of biblical prosperity. Please tell us how you “discovered” these principles.
There was a little pamphlet written by A. A. Allen and he had two paraphrases that said God didn’t want you poor. There was this statement in it that said God’s best friend was a multi-millionaire and he was talking about Abraham. That intrigued me and I began to study the Word of God. In the process, I’ve written 52 books on that topic for 30 years.
What were your own life and finances like before you received this message from the Lord?
I came out of a rich man’s house but when I went into the ministry, it was not popular in my family. So I was on my own. I worked as a brick layer and eventually went into a building business in Florida. One of my employees told me about Jesus and I got saved. And when I got saved, God told me to go preach and so I enrolled into Bible college.
We were very strong in world missions and put a lot of money into the Philippines but I never prospered. That was because I gave believing I could survive without what I gave, so that was what I did—I survived without the money. But when I got my revelation I started believing for a return, thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold, and I just started growing more as I believed for more.
There is no increase without expectation; faith and expectation are twin sisters. You need to have faith for your increase; you need to be expecting it.
Why is it not okay for Christians to be poor?
In the 12th chapter of Genesis, God says you will be a blessing to all the nations of the world. But in Deuteronomy 8, it says you shall remember the Lord your God who gives you the power to prosper. Why prosper? So you can fulfill the covenant. And what is the covenant? To be a blessing to all the earth. You can’t bless the earth through poverty.
What are people—Christians or non-Christians—really afraid of about wealth?
When Luther came out of the church, he came out with doctrine of the virgin birth, the Second Coming and the authority of the Scriptures. But there was no doctrine of finances because it was a state-supported church. So there was no tradition on the topic of finances in the church. Non-Christians are also stuck to the tradition of seeing the church in poverty and would not want to see it prosper.
The more important thing is: you can’t lead people to where you have not been. If you have not been prosperous, how can you lead your people into prosperity? We have poor preachers because when they are ordained, our mindset is “God keep them spiritual, we’ll keep them poor.”
For someone who has always struggled financially from month to month, what is the first step he or she can take towards having the right attitude about finances?
The first step is that they have to tithe, because nothing comes unless there is an open heaven. And then I’ll say it again, it’s just faith and expectation. The day we accepted Christ we prayed, “Come into my heart, Lord” and we had anticipation that He will do it. And when we received the Holy Ghost we didn’t stand there thinking that it’s not going to happen. Expectation is a part of faith—without expectation, what is your faith? It’s empty.
What is the biggest misconception Christians have about money?
I think the whole church, traditional and non-traditional, generally believe that God is moved by need. But if God is moved by needs, then He will only move in the poorest parts of the world. However, He is moving in the more wealthy parts of it. So He is not moved by need but by faith.
While wealth is good, temptation is also very real. What are some personal safeguards you have for keeping the right attitude and doing the Biblically right things with your finances? For example, if you have already put your money into a business, but later discover that it uses child labor or supports trafficking networks—what is the right thing to do?
Firstly when it comes to business, many people will think that they will pick an item and sell it. But having a business is selling a product that people want, and not something you want.
We have to know that there are enough honest people to deal with without having to deal with the dishonest ones. It is important to know who our businesses partners are before getting involved. If we find out later that they are dishonest, we will then need to be determined to separate ourselves from them.
If we only realize later that the business is bad, sell the business to the partners or just shut the business down. God can start you in the morning and give you a better business.
Tell us about Millionaire University—what does it encompass and why did you decide to do it?
Millionaire University was put together six or seven years ago by a supporter of our ministry, Robert Gibson. He is a very wealthy attorney as well as a doctor in Florida, but he was also a person who came out of poverty and multiple failures. This package of lessons offered online is mostly his experiences with me and a few other ministers who teach on this topic. Many people who follow it have benefited.