The massive protests and ensuing violence in Hong Kong were possibly the most prominent world news story of 2019. This special administrative region was torn by intensifying demonstrations against proposed legal changes and alleged police brutality against the protestors. By 2021, the relentless squeeze by the PRC appears to have effectively ended the battle for Hong Kong's freedom. Christians in Hong Kong were divided about the protests and about Hong Kong's relationship with both the West and China. Yet we have seen in China itself that ruthless regimes cannot stop the growth of the Church. Pray that amidst great turmoil, believers might love one another and display unity in Christ. May Jesus be glorified in Hong Kong!
The future of Hong Kong's freedoms is precariously balanced between a desperate younger generation craving justice and liberty and an increasingly assertive Executive governed by Beijing seeking to extend ever-greater control. The scale and intensity of the protests illustrates this point powerfully Some in HK aspire to full representative democracy; others foresee increasing mainland over politics, the press and jurisprudence. The Chief Executive and all others in leadership must balance satisfying Beijing with satisfying their own people in Hong Kong - increasingly this seems an impossible task. Pray for wisdom, discernment and courage to take the right path.
Hong Kong's role within China could potentially be a powerfully redemptive one - financially, socially, culturally and spiritually. HK's economic clout within China is proportionately much less than in the past. The clamour for justice, reform, and liberty could potential spill over into mainland China, or could prompt a brutal crackdown within Hong Kong. Into this volative situation, Hong Kong Christians must be peacemakers, intercessors, dutiful citizens but obedient first and foremost to Jesus.
The religious context of Hong Kong is unique, dominated by a melange of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism and Chinese folk religion practiced by the majority. There are over 700 temples and monasteries, not to mention the countless shrines dedicated to various powers and for various purposes. Many other residents follow no religion. Most other faiths are present but largely practiced by immigrant populations. The resulting spiritual mosaic makes for the opportunity to openly share Jesus, but it also reflects very real spiritual powers opposed to Christ's lordship.
The Christian community has a disproportionately influential role in serving society. Although only 10% of the population, the Church runs the majority of schools and social organizations and 25% of hospitals. Many elderly, poor, foreigners and others in need of assistance are blessed by such efforts. So far, the potential threat of state interference or limitation has not materialized. Pray that the Church may continue to be salt and light in this way and to boldly continue this leavening, transforming role in society.
Student and youth ministries are strong and growing. Cru, HKFES(IFES), the Navigators and others are very active, each with dozens of staff on most campuses. Newer and more radically oriented ministries exist, such that Hong Kong has one of the world's most dynamic and creative youth ministry scenes; Campus Church Network and Breakthrough are two good examples of this. Many denominations also focus on youth ministry and training, and the 225% increase in young people attending church from 1999 to 2004 is an indicator that such approaches bear fruit. Pray for this to continue, to deepen and to be exported beyond the shores of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a vital nerve centre for media. Through networks such as the Association of Christian Publishers, more than 30 Christian publishers (double the number from 2001) and 70 Christian bookstores exist just among Protestants. Groups such as Christian Communications Ltd, AOI and many others facilitate writing, printing and distributing millions of Bibles, books, tracts and other printed matter. The Bible Society plays a key role as well; a new Chinese-language Bible translation was completed in 2010. Hong Kong is a key location for studios preparing radio programmes (FEBC, FEBA, TWR, others). There are also half a dozen Christian media agencies broadcasting Christian TV, not to mention the many cutting-edge film, music and new media ministries in this very modern, tech-savvy and creative city. Pray for these skills and gifts to make an impact on Hong Kong, but also to be felt on a wider, even global, scale.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.