Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on June 7, 2018

Steve Yui-Sang Tsang’s Modern History of Hong Kong offers a perceptive 156-year historical look at how a small fishing port developed into the seventh largest stock exchange in the world while balancing the superpower influences of Imperial Britain and Communist China. Tsang has a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford and currently serves at the AOAS China Institute for the University of London. Tsang’s inside-out narrative style transports the reader along a two-century cross-cultural journey. He shows how an obscure sea-port island that started as a “safe haven” for dissidents and political refugees survived and grew into a complex international metropolis that overcame the complex influences of British rule and Chinese influence.

The people of Hong Kong endured discrimination, poverty, wars, and inequalities. Nevertheless, their God-given spirit of existence helped them prosper and become a geo-specific socioeconomic culture that created its own global space; surviving the transition of power from Colonial rule into a Chinese Special Administrative Region. This post will look for ways to leverage Tsang’s historical insights and humanitarian themes to help prepare for the 2018 LGP Hong Kong Advance. My goal is to develop a Tsang-style viewing lens so that I can discern, respect, and see the current contextual leadership needs and ministry challenges in Hong Kong’s evolving global culture. Satan’s spiritual warfare influences are intertwined within Tsang’s historical narration and I will watch for examples of how this evolving Euro-Asian nation survived with just a small remnant of Christian believers.

Pattern says that Hong Kong is the “consequence of the opium trade, encouraged by Britain” so they could pay to rule India and buy goods from China.[1] Pattern says there are three take-a-ways from Tsang’s book; (1) Hong Kong is liberal but not democratic, (2) Hong Kong is an open and modern society that wants to live in harmony with Confucian tradition, and (3) Hong Kong is engaged in a global economy that has made unparalleled economic and political progress.[2] Tsang’s insights on “one country, two systems’ formula” adds to the complex context and conclusions on the book.[3] This constitutional 1-2 principle was designed by the People’s Republic of China in the 1980’s.  While a one-China socialistic theme drives the principle, their application allowed Hong Kong to retain a capitalist driven economy under its unique Colonial-Confucian mixes of political, legal, and religious identities.[4] How do you lead through all of that? What type of Christian leadership makes the difference here? I deduce the basis for Hong Kong’s underlying success comes from dedicated servants and their ministry of presence and then their survival through struggles that reflect the image of Christ to others.

Morris says that Hong Kong was “always a base of Christian evangelicalism” citing New Life Literature as a proselytizing organization that helped move Bibles into mainland China.[5] I found it interesting that Morris described Hong Kong as a “Rest and Recreation Center” for all occupations from weary American soldiers to “spiritually exhausted Christian missionaries.”[6] Morris’s book shows how the West influenced Hong Kong’s advance in many ways. For example, the first Christian church (Baptist Chapel, 1842), the first ice (1847), the first 1,000 room hotel (Hong Kong Hilton, 1962), and the introduction of the first automobile.[7] The ministry challenges are varied in scope and need. Hong Kong’s dominant religion is Buddhism and they provide large charitable and social welfare services from young to old. Next there is Taoism (simple living and harmony with nature), Confucianism (living under religious, ethical, and philosophical teachings), followed by Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, and Christianity (Roman Catholic and Protestant).

I had to search outside of Tsang’s book to get more information on the influence of the Basic Law but was encouraged to find that it guarantees the freedom of religion. I think it is good to know that since we are taking our LGP proselytizing Cohorts there in a few weeks! While Christianity was the only official religion, prior to the transfer of sovereignty, recent polls and government reports show only about 12% of the population who profess Christianity.[8] Hong Kong Home Affairs Bureau lists Good Friday, Easter, Buddha’s Birthday, and Christmas as public holidays.[9] They get three out of four at least for Christian holidays!

I think Hong Kong’s survival spirit comes directly from their Christian Colonial beginnings from both the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant church and missions that were established in 1841. The visible ministry of presence from the priests and pastors, brothers and sisters, parishes and churches, schools and kindergartens, and hospitals and drug rehabilitation centers were the “Christ-in-me” differences that made the difference.[10] I served in similar contexts in Asia and Africa where the Buddhist’s or the Muslim’s fed the stomach of the needy with food, but it was the Christian’s who fed both the stomach with food and the soul with the Gospel hope of Christ.  As of 2016 there are about 900,000 professing Christians in Hong Kong![11] I look forward to hearing from one of them, Jackie Pullinger, and the St. Stephens Society who meet and minister to the needs of many, including those with addictive behaviors.  http://www.ststephenssociety.com/index.php

In conclusion this post helps me begin to see the tremendous leadership challenges and ministry needs for our LGP8 cohort who could-would be called to serve in Hong Kong or any Asian based honor-shame culture. Morris says the people of Hong Kong have a “powerful aptitude for belief.”[12] They believe in gods, ghosts, signs, auguries, and supernatural faiths ranging from “sophisticated theological dogma to everyday superstition.”[13] The underlying superstitions and fears in Hong Kong’s predominate honor-shame culture adds to their spiritual warfare problems and needs that I see as an opportunity for armor of God ministries. Please join me and “armor up” for our 2018 LGP8 Advance. We will be entering a fantastic ministry dimension that awaits our faithful obedience, faith, and service to God’s Kingdom.

Stand firm 立场坚定,

M. Webb

[1] Christopher Patten. “Eastern Promise. (A Modern History of Hong Kong (1841-1997)).” New Statesman 133, no. 4686 (2004): 43.
[2] Ibid., 44-45.
[3] Steve Tsang. Modern History of Hong Kong. (London: I.B.Tauris, 2007) 247.
[4] Ibid., 217.
[5] Jan Morris. Hong Kong. (Vintage, 1997) 270.
[6] Ibid., 277.
[7] Ibid., 111.
[8] Religion and Custom. “Hong Kong: The Facts.” (Hong Kong Government, May 2016) 1.
[9] Ibid., 3.
[10] Ibid., 1.
[11] Ibid., 3.
[12] Morris, Hong Kong, 122.
[13] Ibid.

About the Author


6 responses to “香港”

  1. Mark Petersen says:


    Thanks for a thoughtful and interesting post. The one country-two systems framework could never have emerged in the West. We are too cognitive and rational for the ambiguity. Only in the East.

  2. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Mike,

    Nice use of the Chinese characters! (I assume that is what they are). I cracked up at your comment to give them credit for three out of four for the holidays.

    Your synopsis of the situation is Hong Kong was well written. I find it interesting that the Colonial and Confucian mix have been maintained–but then again, if money is the driving factor, why not keep them both? Seems to me all societies are eager to compromise when it pads their own pocketbook! Satan at work, I am sure…

  3. Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Mike! Great use of chinese characters and thank you for capturing and sharing some information on different religions in HK. It’s certainly to their benefit that they have been able to hold on to freedom of religion thus far (I will be curious to see if PRC makes a move to change this – and if they do will the Christians revolt?) . What isn’t easily changed is the cultural influence of Buddhism – including end of life rituals. I can’t wait to experience this culture first hand.

  4. Greg says:

    Unity and peace are the key. That means recognizing all holidays associated with different religions. Mike you are correct that this area has an on going spiritual battle. Like most areas of the world, we can get caught up with the glitter and lights and miss what is going on underneath. We really do need to armor up and be ready to learn some great things that hopefully rocks our world and changes how we see the world.

  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Mike, as I teenager I remember listening to a story regarding a missionary that was working to sneak bibles into a highly opposed nation of China. At that point in my life, it was an intriguing story of daring and risk; today it is a fascinating story of a love for Christ in spite of the danger. We are able to take Christianity for granted to easily in the Western world that we often forget what other countries are having to endure to just get a glimpse of it. As the world has changed since those days, sadly, there are still so many that have been denied the access to God’s Word. I am not sure that this reading actually offered as much instruction or guidance as I would have preferred in our preparation for Hong Kong, but it was enlightening to the challenge that is still facing much of the world in regards to gaining access to the Gospel. I can only imagine the risks that you continue to take as you span the globe, and appreciate that God has given you access that others do not have, because He knows that are all willing to push that limit. Mission work is not going to the be the same for everyone, and in those rare cases, it is truly amazing the the way God works to make sure His Gospel is spread.

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