Missionary Stories

Blind Justice?

 

Hong_Kong_Fall_2017_(4).jpgOn August 17, three young Hong Kong student protest leaders were sent to jail with terms ranging fromsix to eight months. Nathan Law, Joshua Wong, and Alex Chow had been given community service or a suspended sentence last year for their part in the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations known as the “Occupy/Umbrella Movement”. However, the Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen asked the Hong Kong Court of Appeal to review the earlier sentences, stating that the students’ actions in storming the government headquarters compound and inciting others to join them warranted a harsher punishment. This time the Court agreed and ordered custodial sentences for all three young men. The activists indicated they would take their cases to the Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

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Biblical Themes Run Through It

2017_Sept_newsletter_Small_Souichi_1.pngI want to introduce you to some paintings by Soichi Watanabe, one of Japan’s most internationally known Christian artists. I happen to know him from thirty years ago when we met through a Bible study held at the house of a Christian professor in the city of Sendai. Watanabe’s paintings are special in many ways. First, his paintings are mostly based on biblical themes. Second, you will notice that the contours are quite simple, and there are no facial features depicted. And third, most of his paintings depict human figures who are in relationship to one another. When I first saw his artwork, I wondered why he paints in such abstract form. The expression seemed somewhat detached from real life. But now I have come to appreciate his soft tones and the detached simplicity of expression.

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Call for Christmas Cards to Japan

assorted-christmas-cards-1448895398jeQ.jpgLong-term Mission Co-Worker in Japan, Jeffrey Mensendiek, was instrumental in coordinating humanitarian relief during and in the years following the 2011 Fukushima “Triple Disaster” of tsunami, flooding, and nuclear contamination. Since then he has facilitated an exchange of Christmas cards between U.S. congregations and those of our partner church in Japan. Last year 38 UCC and Disciples churches wrote cards to 86 churches in Japan. Jeffrey’s letter to participating churches is also an invitation to any new congregations to take part this Advent season. You can find stories and current information on what is happening in Japan from Jeffrey’s blog http://jeffreyfromjapan.blogspot.com/. Those interested in participating can contact him or Global Ministries East Asia Pacific Executive, Derek Duncan (duncand@ucc.org).

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Shining Ever Brighter

Hong_Kong_-_Carrie_Lam_wins_election.JPGOn March 26th, Mrs. Carrie Lam was elected as the new Chief Executive of Hong Kong. She will assume office on July 1, 2017. Her win was no surprise. The former Chief Secretary was the overwhelming favorite among the 1200-member Selection Committee. Although many community and Christian groups supported another candidate, Mr. John Tsang, it was apparent that Mrs. Lam would emerge victorious with the support of powerful business and political sectors.

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Values you Call Us to Embrace

Prayer of Intercession
Kowloon Union Church
May 7, 2017

Lord of Life, justice, peace, love, compassion and kindness are the values that you call us to embrace through the teachings and ministry of your Son to live together in community. These values though are sadly in short supply in our world today.

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Earth Day in Hong Kong

Prayer of Intercession
Kowloon Union Church
April 23, 2017

Lord, last Sunday we celebrated your resurrection and life that springs from death during Easter.

Today we continue to celebrate life with yesterday’s commemoration of Earth Day as we give thanks for the gifts of clean air, water and soil that you have given us to sustain our lives. We often take these gifts for granted, however, and abuse this inheritance of life that has been given to us. We even deny that we are playing a role in altering the balance of life of the planet. Lord, we pray that we will be worthy stewards of this gift we have inherited from previous generations and that through a less consumption-oriented lifestyle and other modified behaviors we can pass these gifts to our children and to our children’s children. We ask that the leaders of the world’s nations will implement policies and laws that protect these gifts you have given us so that future generations will enjoy air and water that is free from pollution and soil without toxins. We especially pray that the environmental degradation found in China after decades of so-called development will be addressed by its leaders and people and that the increasing emphasis on generating power from renewable energy sources will continue.

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Staying Connected

Japan_-_J_Mensendiek_Spr_2017_P1102798.JPG“Life is never about being correct, but only and always about being connected. Just stay connected. At all costs stay connected.”   Richard Rohr

These words give me a framework for God’s mission and how I want to live out God’s love for this world. If only we would stop building walls and dividing people. If only we could discover ways to cherish our common humanity, or to appreciate the inter-connectedness of all living things. Our calling is clearer than ever; to reach out and connect, and to celebrate in doing so.

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Fukushima Still Fighting

Japan_-_M_Mensendiek_Spr_2017_Terumi.JPGThis past year has been a tumultuous year for the world in so many ways. Japan has had its share of issues that are cause for deep concern. At the Bazaar Café, (our church’s coffee house ministry) we continue to be a venue for lectures and forums to inform about urgent and pressing social justice issues, as well as a place for people to come together in solidarity.

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Seeds of Peace in Asia

Hong_Kong_-_Bruce_Spr_2017_UCC5_Int_08_02-03-17_Photo_1.jpgOur interfaith youth network for justpeace, Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF), held our annual program committee meeting for several days in January in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to plan our activities for this year. The main activity once again will be the School of Peace (SOP) for three months beginning in July that will be held near Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for up to 20 youth between the ages of 20 and 30 from throughout Asia. SOP is the program that binds all of the ICF network members together as everyone in our network of 115 young people in 17 countries has been a participant.

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Breaking Down the Walls of Division

Hong_Kong_-_Chan_2017_Walls_that_divide.jpgOne of the busiest seasons for the Hong Kong Christian Council is during the month of January. This is the time when we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity together with churches all over the world. The theme for 2017 is “Reconciliation: The Love of Christ Compels Us” based on 2 Corinthians 5:14. The materials were prepared by Christians in Germany in commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

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