Dear members of HMCC of Hong Kong,
We are currently living in perilous times. Who would have ever imagined the events that have unfolded in the last 5.5 months? With the deaths, violence, brutality, and destruction of property, it is hard to see an end to all the chaos in the city and the feelings of animosity towards one another. There is a heightened sense of anger and frustration. Many people are feeling hopeless and even struggling to combat anxiety and fear.
I have always loved Hong Kong from my first visit in the early 2000’s until now. Over the last 4 years, since my family and I have moved here from the United States, I have called Hong Kong my home; and I have grown in my love for this world-class city and the beautiful people that make up this place.
But with the protests, the handling of the situation by the government, and the evidences of police brutality, more people are feeling outraged and indignant. This has caused an escalation of violence throughout the city. It has also precipitated the cancelation of classes by the universities for the rest of the semester. Now, various countries are issuing warnings and even prompting their citizens to evacuate immediately.
With all this going on, how should we, as a church or even as a Christ-follower respond? I know that many of you are afraid and even experiencing high levels of anxiety. Many parents of international students have expressed their concerns and worry over the crisis in Hong Kong. This is all normal, especially when we perceive that our safety, security, and lives are in danger. Therefore, first, I want to say that I and the church stand with you and are interceding on your behalf.
There are a lot of things that are uncertain at this moment, but here are the things that we do know:
- We are CONCERNED about your safety. We will do everything humanly possible to make sure that you are all safe. We will not unnecessarily put you in harm’s way nor will we ask you to do something that you do not feel comfortable doing. We are constantly checking up with the most current news information and any government warnings. We are also monitoring the transportation system to make sure that you have a way to get home from any of our church gatherings. Even with all the precautionary measures, we have to remember that our lives are in God’s hands, therefore, we have to trust Him [Ps 18:2, 91:4, 144:4, Dt 31:8].
- We are CONVINCED that God is in control. There are so many things in life that are outside of our control. Only God is Sovereign and He is in full control of all things. It is easy to live our lives as if we are in control, but we have to remind ourselves that we are not God. This is why we must grow in our trust and confidence in God. If we really believe that God is good and that He is Sovereign, then we would have peace in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, as well as the courage to stand strong and be undeterred from trusting in Him [Ps 47:8; Heb 1:3; Mt 10:30].
- We are COMMITTED to God’s purposes. One thing that always gets lost in difficult situations is to see how God is able to use everything to accomplish His purpose. No matter what Satan or people do, God’s purpose will never be thwarted. Therefore, we do not want to compromise in what had called us to do. We want see every situation as an opportunity to live out our calling as disciples of Christ. We cannot allow our fears to force us to shy away from living out God’s purpose for our lives. [Job 42:2; Ps 135:6; Mt 28:19-20, Ro 8:28].
- We are CONVICTED that God will be glorified. God is passionate about His glory and He will do everything to glorify Himself. We have the privilege of bringing glory and honor to God by how we respond to various situations. When we respond differently from how the world responds to hard times, then it is an opportunity for us to glorify God. Also, God can use hard situations to reveal and expose our hearts. He gives a honest look at the idols that we worship, which are in competition with our love and devotion to God. Therefore, may we repent and turn back to loving God and loving His people [Ps 29:1-2, 34:3; 115:1; 1 Chr 16:23-29].
With these convictions and resolve in our hearts, there are still a lot of things that we do not know nor do we have control over, therefore, we must ask God for wisdom and discernment to make wise choices that will affect our lives and our future trajectory.
As your pastor, I want you to encourage you to think and pray through some of these considerations in order to gain a God-centered perspective.
- We must repent and gain God’s heart. It is easy to get self-focused during these times, but it is imperative that we understand God’s heart. Let’s ask God for forgiveness in allowing our selfishness, inconveniences, fears, apathy, etc. to stop us from seeing the need and feeling His burden for HK. When Jesus saw the lost, “his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd” [Mt 9:36-38 MSG]. Let’s humble ourselves and understand His heart for the situation in HK.
- We must pray for the peace and the prosperity of HK. God, through the prophet Jeremiah, told the Israelites to, “Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace” [Jer 29:7 AMP]. Let’s be faithful in praying this promise from God.
- We must remember that faith is greater than fear. I cannot over-emphasize this but fear is no match for our faith in God. Satan wants us to cower with fear so that we turn away from doing the will of God. This is why the Apostle John said, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” [1 Jn 4:18 ESV]. Let’s ask God to help us overcome our unbelief and have faith.
- We must take advantage of the opportunities. With everything going on, more people are searching for meaning in life and looking for hope. These are open doors for us to share the Gospel. May we not back down in sharing the greatest news and treasure that we possess. As the Apostle Paul reminded us of, “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” [Eph 5:16 NIV]. Let’s take advantage of all the opportunities that God is giving us to share the Good News.
- We must believe that God uses all things for the good. God, in His goodness, is constantly working out things for His glory and our good. Even in some of the most tumultuous times, God is always finding ways to display His character of goodness in people and in situations. This is why we have to trust in His goodness. At times we might not see it right away, but we must have faith to believe His goodness will shine. As the Apostle Paul said, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” [Ro 8:28 NLT]. May we have this kind of trust in the goodness of God and see everything through the lens of His goodness.
- We must be available to be used by God. We are in the cusp of making history. In the Bible, as well as throughout history, we have seen key “kairos moments” where history was made by ordinary people who obeyed God. They had a sense of purpose and just like how Mordecai saw Esther’s place in history as an act of God, he said, “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” [Esther 4:14 NLT]. Therefore, we must respond to the way the prophet Isaiah did when God asked, “’Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” [Isa 6:8 NIV]. May we have a sense of purpose and be completely available to God so that He can use us for His glory.
For such a time as this, may we rise to the occasion and be the salt and light of the world (Mt 5:13-16) during these times. I believe that God has been preparing us for the last 4 years, as we have been trying “to transform lost people into Christ’s disciples who will then transform the world.” Let’s stay strong with the strength that the Lord provides and continue to abide in Christ. As we pray, may the Lord heal our land, as the Lord told Solomon, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” [2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV]
Seth S. Kim