Lectionary Selection: Mark 13: 24-37
Prayers for Hong Kong:
On this first day of Advent, Lord, we are watching and waiting to celebrate your birth and your life among us. We are in much need for your presence and your teachings in our world today. We already feel like the days of tribulation in Mark 13:24 have arrived, that the sun and moon are already dark and lifeless, that the stars in Mark’s next verse have already tumbled from heaven. As we survey our world today, we are witnesses to wars in the Middle East, to divisiveness and intolerance in the United States and Europe and to corrupt leaders everywhere. In Asia, we sadly watch the persecution of the predominantly Muslim Rohingyas in Burma and violence in the name of faith in India, Indonesia and other parts of the region. As for here in Hong Kong, we feel nervous about our future, that our rule of law, our rights and freedoms, our political autonomy, are slowly eroding and are being defined by the Chinese government.
It is in this environment that we yearn for the leaves of the fig tree in Mark 13:28 to sprout and to feel the warmth of summer again. We thus wait, watch and welcome the return of the Master to our slumbering world. You are the Hope, the Love, the Joy, for which we are waiting. Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Hong Kong:
On Oct. 15, the eighth School of Peace (SOP) conducted by Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) near Yogyakarta, Indonesia, concluded after three months. This year’s program included 16 participants from 10 Asian countries— Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.
Like previous SOPs, emphasis was placed on sensitizing the participants to the various identities that they and everyone have; the ways in which identity today results in conflicts, especially one’s religious identity; a variety of responses to conflict with non-violence through dialogue and engagement being the recommended reaction; and lastly, stress on the importance and need for transformation.
My role in the program was to present sessions on human rights with a 2007 SOP alumnus from Jakarta, Khamid Anik Khamim. We largely provided a deeper understanding of what are human rights, various obstacles that deny people their rights, ways to advocate for people’s rights when they are violated and some ideas about how to create and nurture a human rights culture and movement within their communities and societies.
In addition, the participants took a number of field trips, including one to Bali—a predominantly Hindu island of Muslim-majority Indonesia—where they met survivors of the mass killings of alleged communists that began in 1965 and that took the lives of between 500,000 and three million people within a one-year period. They also met victims of so-called development—members of fishing communities along the coast that are being displaced for land reclamation.
The participants were fortunate to hear Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye from Nigeria speak at a local university in Yogyakarta. They had experienced violent interreligious conflict in their country in 1992, and they shared that, instead of seeking revenge against the other religious community, that a mutual friend had told them: “The two of you can pull this nation together, or you can destroy it. Do something.”
This wisdom is a challenge to all of us today in our divided world.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Bruce Van Voorhis)
Mission Partners in Hong Kong:
- Asian Human Rights Commission
- Christian Study Institute in Chinese Culture and Religion
- Chung Chi College Divinity School
- Hong Kong Christian Council
- Hong Kong Christian Institute
- Hong Kong Christian Service
- Hong Kong Christian Women's Council
- Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China
More information on Kenya: http://www.globalministries.org/hong_kong
Global Ministries Mission Coworker in Hong Kong:
Bruce Van Voorhis serves the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs in Hong Kong as coordinator of interfaith programs. His appointment is due to gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.