Joint Pastoral Letter signed by 54 Hong Kong Chinese Christian Ministers and Scholars on 5 August 2019
Brothers and sisters in Christ. Peace be with you all.
Today Hong Kong is at a time of crisis. Clashes in society are escalating by the day. In June, we experienced two massive protest rallies. In July, on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, apart from the protest rally, there was the storming of the Legislative Council building. By the second half of July, we also had the 7.21 Yuen Long and 7.28 Western District incidents. During these multiple demonstration clashes, demonstrators charged forward and the police reacted with tougher and tougher measures. Amid all these protests and clashes, the government, other than repeating its views and condemnations against the violence, has not truly addressed the demands of the people, nor taken any measures to calm down the situation. At the time of writing, Hong Kong is facing the "three strikes" and rallies in all districts intended to force the government to respond to the demands. Hong Kong is like a box full of explosives ready to explode.
We are a group of ministers and scholars from various denominations whose hearts are tied to Hong Kong. We concur with the plain and reasonable demands that are widely supported by the people in Hong Kong. We also hope that these demands will soon get addressed so that the people in Hong Kong could live in freedom, equality and without fear, and thus can live and work in peace and contentment, and also live out the true word of the Lord. But when the city we live in is bound by fear, lawlessness, brutality, and clashes, how can we turn a blind eye? When we see the young people in a sea of guns and bullets, getting arrested, prosecuted, and their future ruined, our hearts ache. Therefore, to the people in Hong Kong, we would like to voice what is in our hearts: Enough! It's time to stop. Blood has already been shed, and we don't want to see any fatality. We hope that both sides in the clashes will calm down and try to find a way out.
We affirm that:
- Expression of demands is part of our freedom of speech and should not be taken away. But we plead that when we are expressing our demands, we must exercise restraint, and be persuasive. We do not agree with any brutality that would cause any physical harm.
- The law enforcement body should abide by their professional code of conduct, with no abuse of power and force, and put the protection of the citizens as its top priority.
- Whatever their political stands are, any action should be taken with the support and maintenance of the rule of law in mind. The rule of law should be our greatest common denominator.
- The doer must undo what he has done. The government must take courage to undertake effective measures to resolve this political crisis. If the government continues to be inactive, not only will there be no end to the clashes, but also it may result in the unwarranted sacrifice of life.
- We need the truth. Only when the truth is revealed will the clashes lose momentum and eventually be resolved. What we see now is the "yellow " and the "blue", both with their own arguments and different stands. If the truth is laid out in full view, it will be the best way to resolve the dispute and promote reconciliation.
At a time of divergent opinions, we firmly believe that the truth is essential in resolving clashes. We, therefore, call on the government to take effective measures to put an end to clashes to prevent large scale bloodshed, before Hong Kong is doomed. We believe that a credible committee of inquiry is feasible and an effective way to lead Hong Kong back to the right path. The people in Hong Kong have a right to know what has happened, what has gone wrong from the beginning of the "fugitive law" amendment until now. How can it be avoided? The committee can make suggestions for the government to formulate, even legislate, policies to avoid the occurrence of similar clashes in the future.
As members of the church, we call on all believers in Hong Kong not to label others since we are all parts of the one body in Christ. Believers with different opinions should worship our same one God under one roof with one heart. What Jesus has created is not a split but one whole body, a united people who cooperate and support each other. If we stick to our own opinion and do not seek the righteousness of the kingdom in heaven and unity under the Cross, how can we pray for this city? How can we manifest Christ? Colossians 3:12-15 should be our motto:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
May the grace of the Lord, in this time of chaos, be with this city. And may the goodness and beauty of the Holy Trinity, in the love of the believers for each other, bring light to those who have fallen into the darkness. Amen.
(English translation by Mr. Warren K.C. Wong of Methodist Church, Hong Kong)
Full Chinese Version with introduction and names of Pastors and Scholars can be found at Christian Times online: http://bit.ly/339VrJg