Hong Kong VE Assignment
Students Personal Interests
I started my journey to Hong Kong with a detour through Nanning to visit my Uncle. My Uncle Mike is a rogue American that has made China his home for 10+ years. My time with him was fascinating. I got to meet his Chinese family, we talked economics, religion, and toured many of the local places of interest.
My Uncle is a very intellectual man. He knows all about Jesus but has chosen not to believe in Him. In many ways his life represents Jesus’ teachings more than most Christians but he’s never been able to believe in Jesus because of the way most Christians act and treat one another. When talking with my Uncle about Jesus, he made the comment that religion is transactional and seems forced to him. His comment got me thinking of something I read in Charlene Li’s Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead. Li understands there are obstacles to having open discussions and she states how these “communications need to shift from relationships that are transactional, short term, and impersonal in nature to ones that are more long term focused, personal, and intimate.” This is the exact message the church needs to hear and what I needed to share with my Uncle. I don’t know where my relationship with my Uncle will go but I’m in it with him for the long term and it was a great way to start my journey in China.
After leaving Nanning I headed to Hong Kong. It was refreshing to see my DMINLGP family. If just one thing has surprised me about this program, it has been the closeness one can feel towards their cohort and other students from the weekly blogs/chats and few face-to-face meetings. As Steve Scott was quoted as saying in William Dyrness’ book, “Unless we are moving forward in seeking the genuine transformation of culture, then we are standing still and it is transforming us.” The brothers and sisters I have joined in this DMIN program are doing just that, trying to be transformers of culture instead of being transformed by it. I’m thankful to be a part of this family.
One of my favorite speakers from Hong Kong was the young photographer named Jess Yu. She started her talk with us by saying, “I want to show the world what Hong Kong really is.” Jess brought a fresh perspective to all that was going on in Hong Kong. Jess had an enthusiasm for her generation and during her talk here are a few words I wrote down about her. “she’s young, powerful, secure, visionary, influential, using her gift, naive but powerful, very smart, passionate…” Jess made me think of a quote from Dyrness when he said, “Art, then, may be a means, indeed one of the only means, that will catch the attention of this generation.” I think Dryness may be overstating the significance of Art, yet I think he is onto something very important. Art/Theater/Music can grab the attention of culture and it is no doubt something that Jess has tapped into and is incredibly gifted at. I really enjoyed our time with her.
Along with Jess Yu, one of the speakers I thoroughly enjoyed was Martyn Percy. Martyn shared the role of the pastor and shared an image with me that really resonated and will be something I never forgot. When sharing Spencer’s picture “Christ in the Wilderness – The scorpion” Martyn Percy talked about how in ministry we are often called to hold those that sting us. It was a powerful talk that I am still processing and has me really looking forward to spending more time with Martyn Percy next year.
Pictures weren’t allowed during our time with Jackie Pullinger but I really took a lot out of my time with her. I enjoyed reading about her in Miller and Yamamori’s, Global Pentecostalism: the New Face of Christian Social Engagement. Miller and Yamamori start their book with a very broad definition of what it means to be Progressive Pentecostal. They claim it is “Christians who claim to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and the life of Jesus and seek to holistically address the spiritual, physical, and social needs of people in their community.” It makes great sense to me as to why Miller & Yamamori talk about Jackie in their book. I was inspired by the work she has done in her life and continues to do. Too often I can rely on my own resources and my own vision instead of the work of the Holy Spirit. Since returning from Hong Kong I have thought often of Jackie and I’ve been drawn back towards the work of love and a reliance of the Holy Spirit.
As I get settled back into the rhythms of home it can be easy to get right back into the way life has always been. Things move quickly and unless you make time to be still and process then it will never happened. Life in Hong Kong is quick also. There are people everywhere you look and yet I felt a stillness and peace during our time in Hong Kong. While surrounded by 8+ million people, we took time to be still and pray. While surrounded by people practicing all sorts of religions, there were also many faithful brothers and sisters following their call from Jesus and loving the Chinese men and women.
Wherever I have found myself in the world I have found many similar things, lots of lost hurting people and lots of distractions in life. The Gospel has a way of differentiating one self from the ways of culture. One of my favorite books that we have read this semester is A Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman. In regards to the self-differentiated leader, Friedman says a self-differentiated leader is one that has, “…capacity to be a non-anxious presence, a challenging presence, a well-defined presence, and a paradoxical presence. Differentiation is not about being coercive, manipulative, reactive, pursuing or invasive, but being rooted in the leader’s own sense of self rather than focused on that of his or her followers.” Friedman goes on to explain how differentiation is an emotional concept, not a cerebral one and how it has less to do with a person’s behavior than with his or her emotional being.
Since returning from Hong Kong I’ve been noticing more all the broke and lost people around me and I’ve been taking the time to be still, pray, and trying to be a self-differentiated person that lifts up Jesus and relies on the Holy Spirit.
 Charlene Li. Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010) 56.
 William A. Dyrness, Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 24.
 Ibid., 23.
 Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, Global Pentecostalism: the New Face of Christian Social Engagement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 2.
 Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix (New York: SEABURY BOOKS, 2007), 183.