Way back in June 2019, Hong Kong never imagined that anti-government protests would still be going on four months later.
In fact, many things that have happened in the past 100-plus days were beyond our imagination in a city that last experienced such level of unrest in 1967. I naively thought that things would be calm by October 1 on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Instead, Hong Kong was tense in anticipation that unprecedented chaos and even deaths might take place. Numerous subway stations and shopping centers were closed, police presence was high around the city, and many citizens stayed close to home. As expected, there were protests, violence, vandalism and tear gas in different areas.
Fortunately (thank the Lord), there were no deaths on October 1. However, one student age 18 was hit in the chest by a bullet during fighting with police. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The bullet just missed his heart. While he is no longer in critical condition, the shock of such an event has left Hong Kongers fearful of what will come next. There is no quick or obvious solution to the current political and social turmoil. This may last much longer than anyone expected.
So, what can the Church do? We pray, of course, every day and every week. We pray for peace, for justice, for forgiveness, for hope. But, as time goes on, it seems nothing has changed. That’s when we have to ask ourselves if perhaps we are the ones who need to change.
A psychology professor in Hong Kong recently gave a talk in a public lecture on “Justice vs. Reconciliation”. He soberly concluded: “Restoration of justice to both persons' satisfaction is difficult. To forgive after justice is restored is an unachievable dream. If we want justice done, we may have to forego reconciliation."
This was hard to hear.
Christians use the same terminology, yet we believe that justice and reconciliation are possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. So, even with no visible sign of peace on the horizon, the Church must continue to witness to the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ in hope of a resurrection on the last day.
On September 6, thousands of Christians gathered in over 70 Protestant and Catholic churches across the city. A Common Prayer of Commitment was used that night in every location to express our unity as the body of Christ to serve a community in crisis. I share some of the words here and ask for your support and prayers for Hong Kong to find reconciliation, healing and a way out for our beloved city.
We are determined to be humble, gentle, patient, and tolerant, to be peaceful, to maintain the unity of the Holy Spirit. We refuse to let political disputes or any differences to divide the body of Christ.
We are determined to be diligent to follow Jesus Christ to heal the wounded physically and spiritually and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the power of evil.
We are determined not to regard people as inhuman. We reject all words and deeds that degrade human dignity. We win through the Lord without hatred. We overcome evil with good.
We strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and love others as ourselves. We are determined to help those who are oppressed, regardless of political views; to defend the rights and interests of the minority groups, no matter the difference stances; to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.
We strive to witness to and practice the truth, to seek and defend the truth. We are determined never to confuse right and wrong, but to be blameless and to do no harm.
We are determined, no matter what the situation, to hold fast to our conviction that love and faithfulness will prevail overall. We will not be moved because we know that no matter what happens, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Judy Chan serves with the Hong Kong Christian Council (HKCC). Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.