Jesus Woman of the Month: Ami Tsoi
Ami Tsoi is the founder of Deror Jewellery - where each piece has a unique story and meaning behind it. During this interview, Ami let us in on her journey in discovering herself beyond the cultural demands of Hong Kong and what it means to live life boldly.
"Embrace your identity as a precious daughter of God! That brings freedom and healing beyond your imagination!"
Ami used to think that climbing the corporate ladder and working hard to prove herself would please people around her and give her worth. She wanted to prove she could be strong, independent, and capable of anything through determination and hard work until she could not do it any longer.
She went from working many years in one of the top ten largest international banks and breaking out of a performance driven mindset, to discovering her real identity daring to follow her dream and starting her own jewelry business. This is a glimpse into Ami’s story about finding purpose and what happened after truly understanding the Father's heart.
Question 1 : Can you tell us more about yourself, how was it growing up in Hong Kong?
I was born and raised here in Hong Kong, and grew up in a traditional Chinese family. As a middle child, I always felt neglected and struggled with my identity from a young age. Growing up in a competitive city like Hong Kong, there were many “benchmarks” and comparison everywhere. I was told “you should work harder like your older sister”, and “look, your younger brother is smarter than you”. It seemed like I was only approved if I checked off the “success formula” that is commonly perceived in the culture.
So I have lived under pressure and enormous comparisons, striving to gain approval from my parents, family, teachers, bosses, and people around me. Trying to find myself “useful” or “valuable”.
Question 2 : How did that definition of success affect your life choices?
Interestingly enough, there is a perceived success formula in Hong Kong. Success is going to a good school, get a good job, buying a property, get married before you turn 30, have a child and a good salary.
The expression “to win at the starting line” perfectly describes the culture of competitiveness in Hong Kong. Not surprisingly, I was blindly pursuing these things my whole life. In order to have better career prospects, I was forcing myself to choose subjects like science and even failed math in school. I was lost in the process of checking off all the boxes to be successful. The more I achieved, the more lost and upset I got. Along the way I became bad tempered, ambitious and ridiculously demanding and mean to people, and even to myself.
Question 3 : What was your turning point in your relationship with Jesus?
I was a very prideful and self-sufficient person. I used to think that everything would happen if I work hard enough to earn it or my willpower is strong enough. However, when I came to the end of my rope I felt like I was dying on the inside. I knew I needed a change. I came to a point where I just had to know, I told God, I just want you to tell me, who am I? One of the biggest questions we face is, “who am I”? I really needed to know who God is, and who I was. I knew that I needed to change something. I realized that I am nothing without His love.
Question 4 : After you quit your corporate job, you felt prompted to go on a trip to New Zealand. Tell us about your trip, what you did, and its impact on you!
My trip to New Zealand was a beautiful journey of self-discovery and knowing who God really is. I have been carrying the “who am I?” question my whole life. I thought after becoming a believer, I would find the answer in Christianity. Unfortunately, I was seeing God through the wrong lens and Christianity became more of a 'religion' to me. I motivated myself to serve more, not realizing that my upbringing of “work hard to gain recognition” was deeply built in and influencing me. I ended up burnt out and even came to the point of giving up my Christian life. It was only until I was in a bible school in New Zealand that the revelation finally hit me - God is a loving father to me. All He wants is to love me and rest in Him. I was completely undone by His love. He just wants me to be his little daughter again, and He wants me as I am - no need to pretend to be someone else!
In that three months, I start to know who He is, and also start to discover who I am without my autopilot telling me what to do. I honestly faced my true-self, my past wounds, my messy life by asking God to love, comfort and heal me. The deep encounters with God allowed me to know His heart which transformed my whole belief system. I was finally grounded in my identity in Him.
I never, ever want to go back to my religious life, the life without His Love. I stopped building walls around me to protect myself, because I would know for sure He protects me as a Father! I can be vulnerable, weak, and real, all while pursuing a life-giving journey!
Question 5 : After you came back, you eventually left your life in the corporate world and then start your own jewellery making business. What gave you the courage to do so?
I wanted to see my possibility in life and use my creativity. I wanted to start something new, where my heart is happy.
God helped me to remove my false identity or label, “CPA”, “Professional”, “Full-time job”. That’s what I do but not my true identity. God said: “I don’t need you to be a banker. I don’t need you to be performance driven to prove that you are valuable. You are valuable in yourself because I created you this way. Creativity is from me”. He wants me to know my first identity in my heart that I am his beloved daughter instead of a slave. Truly living out the way he created me! I know he would love to bless me.
In the time of Covid, it seems like it does not make any sense to start a new business without a full time job. After months of prayer, He is guiding me and encouraging me to explore, like a little girl on my small red bike, taking an adventure to live out the way he created me to be! My creativity sprang out after many years of suppression! Now I just took the step of faith to explore the adventure in love and freedom without my false tags.
Question 6 : What a drastic change in your thinking and even in your career! It is so easy to revert back to your old ways at times. What helped you 'stay on track'?
One key thing that attributed to my 'staying on track' was to surround myself with people who support my passion and calling. Thank God that I am plugged in a healthy church community, which continued to build me up, encourage me and be there for me. They believed in me when I wasn’t believing myself, prayed for me to bravely stepped in God’s calling me when I was in denial to take that step of faith.
It is important to have a healthy community that grows and cheers with you!
Question 7 : What is one lesson/revelation that changed your perspective completely about God? What is something you wish everyone knew about Jesus?
God lives within us! He is not far away, and all we need to do is to be intentionally connected to His Spirit within us. That completely changed my perspective. I thought He only existed in mission trips, special conferences, or Sunday church service! He is within me from Monday to Saturday too!
God loves us the way He created us, we are His beloved. God does not love us for what we do. He desires us to live as His beloved and to experience the fullness of love and freedom in Him.
Question 8 : What is your last piece of advise for those who find themselves in the same situation as you?
To embrace our precious identity as a little and beloved daughter of God! That brings freedom and healing beyond your imagination!
'I really needed to know who God is, and who I was. I knew that I needed to change something. I realized that I am nothing without His love.'
Every few months, we will be highlighting a 'Jesus Woman' who has a story to tell that will inspire and encourage readers. We believe this will help people see God's love, understand their identity in Christ, and stir them to take bold steps of faith based on the leading of the Holy Spirit!