Since I first visited Asia when I was fifteen, I have been smitten. My time in Hong Kong only deepened it. What I mean is that I like the people, the places and the culture I experienced. There was a warmth that felt familiar but a pervasive drive, efficiency and sharpness of mind that was distinct.
Culture can be experienced many ways and food is one of my favorites. Eating good, local food and walking the streets of Hong Kong was of personal interest to me. And I got the feeling I was just scratching the surface. (more…)
Eight days of intense immersion into the Hong Kong culture had left me exhausted and even frustrated. It had been nonstop with six speaking engagements, meetings, touring, and that was before the cohort arrived. The environment of small spaces in the hotel room, elevators, buses and trains with so many people in extremely close proximity constantly in a flurry of activity was draining for this introvert.
Mong Kok was a fast paced, densely populated area of diverse stories. As we walked the streets I attempted to look into the eyes of those I passed. In most of the adults there was a somber expression and I realized I was reflecting the expression I was seeing. The only souls that were uniquely set apart were the children. Every group we passed going to and from school still had a face of wonder and laughter. This was in stark contrast to the countenance of most of the elders I observed. (more…)
Arrival in Hong Kong brought both a sense of relief and renewed expectation. Relief because I was finally able to begin the Doctor of Ministry programme, and renewed hope because I was supposed to be in Portland, Oregon doing Semiotics. The Lord works in mysterious ways. (more…)
I’m sitting in my stark white condo tower in Toronto calling the electric company and internet provider to cancel service beginning Sunday. We have a U-Haul truck lined up for Friday to cart the remainder of our possessions 14 hours east to the Maritimes. It’s the end of a long, slow, and sometimes painful 18-month transition from big city action to rural peace. And this DMin course and colleagues have accompanied me and unknowingly influenced me through this change of letting go, moving to obscurity, and being ok with less busyness. (more…)
Not often does one get the privilege to enter into the inner sanctum of another culture. To be able to see inside the way the people go about their daily lives and embracing the world through their eyes. The East Meets West Advance 2018 with George Fox University provided just that experience.
Before attending the advance, your thoughts and heart engage with the lives of the people through readings that connect you to the heartbeat of the culture. Though the texts are great nothing prepares you for the moment when the pages come to life before your eyes. The moment with the familiar is relevantly unfamiliar, and everything you thought of Hong Kong tantalizes your senses.
The sounds of the people in the marketplace, children in the schoolyards, and the hush sounds in the crowded subways. Extra moments are taken to breathe in the bountiful city landscapes and intentionality design beautiful architecture in the high rise building. Slower strides are made as you pass the parks filled with people of multiple nationalities, Indian, African, Chinese, Norweign, and the thought comes to mind of how similar our cultures are yet different. We all have different ways of thinking, religious, family traditions, socio-economic statuses but we are all also God’s creations. Created different with our individual paths.
Your horizons widen as you embrace the vision of a people of strength and hope facing a future yet unknown to them. A struggle to balance the haves and have-nots, the Chinese or Hong Kongers, the future or now, meet them every day. However, when they speak wisdom flows from deep places of experience and grit. From the young people in the Umbrella Revolution to the asylum seekers from South Africa, Sir Lanka and more, their stories force the challenger to arise in all that hear them.
You will leave the advance fully aware of who you are and the part you play in this big beautiful world. You will understand that culture does not divide us, it unites us.
As we continue on this journey of life we will see things from a different of view; a different view of looking beyond the lens, if you would.
Visiting Hong Kong in 2018 with my wife, after Cape Town in 2017 and previously being missionaries in Botswana and Zambia 2009-2011, was something I always hoped we could accomplish. I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of the Hongkonger culture. This ethnographic post is my story from the 2018 Face-to-Face Advance with my Leadership and Global Perspectives (LGP) class. Personal interest, new knowledge, practice, and application are the key themes I will reflect on and show examples of learning synthesis. (more…)
Glo and I had arrived for the Hong Kong advance a day early to get on local time and rest up. This picture was taken on Tuesday evening, September 25th, during our first advance activity (a meet-and-greet at a restaurant within the Panda Hotel complex). Not wanting to be late (as always) we were some of the first ones to arrive. We were tired and exhausted. Glo is always sweet and gracious when she is tired; I am not. We desperately wanted to find someone to talk to who was friendly and kind. We met Chris Roush who was one of the faculty advisors (not knowing anyone, we initially thought she might be a fellow cohort participant). We immediately connected and became fast friends. Chris may never know how she helped launch this life-changing experience for us. Thank you, Lord, for Chris! (more…)
When friends or family have asked about this new doctoral program that I started this year, I have explained it all to them again and again. And as I describe it to other people, I realize again: if I were going to make up a DMin program that fits for me and my interests, this is it! People constantly say things to me like, “yea, that sounds exactly like your kind of program.”
Looking back, I have been pleasantly surprised to see how my DMin work has fit into the rest of my life. There have been some intense periods when it felt like everything was due at the same time or where there are more assignments than I had wanted to do, but in general it has become part of the flow of my week. (more…)
I fell into the program in the midst of a headlong sprint having just completed my Master of Divinity degree in 3 hard years and passing the 5 required ordination exams for my denomination. I figured; ‘Why stop now? Might as well keep pushing and get the doctorate knocked out too.’ In hindsight a brief pause for air was probably in order.
The LGP program fell out amongst several other options as the one that seemed to be leading in the direction I felt I desired to head. That sentiment has proved to be salient as the initial advance in Cape Town, the connection with the LGP #8 cohort, the weekly Zoom meetings, faculty advisor correspondence, guidance of the lead mentor and even the uncomfortable introspection required to complete the PLDP have coalesced into an experience that has helped alter my perspective toward ministry, broadened my understanding of the world God created and shaped my own spiritual growth in unanticipated ways. (more…)
I’m alive and well – albeit tired – and still functioning fairly well four semesters after my program start. Unlike most of my cohort, I didn’t have formal theology/divinity education prior to enrolling in George Fox so I started leveling classes the summer prior to the program start (summer 17). I knew from reading bios/facebook introductions and synchronous initial introductions our first week that I would have a resource of amazing colleagues within the elite 8 cohort. What I didn’t know then, that I know now, is how significant the friendships would be – how much I would enjoy both social and academic banter with each member of the group. I’ve grown to respect every member of our cohort – even through our philosophical differences – and to value challenging feedback through synchronous and asynchronous discussions. One year later I feel transformed in my friendships, learning, and capacity to function under pressure. (more…)
What a year to step back into studies and begin my education once again. I will admit that entering into a doctoral program after 20 years of not writing and studying like a graduate student was a little intimidating. I did think I had an edge though because I currently live abroad. Living abroad sometimes can be fascinating and challenging at the same time. So beginning this LGP program I had the idea that I would come with leg up on the “global perspective” side of the discussion. Boy was I wrong, as time and time again I have seen God teach me and stir my heart in understanding common ideas in new ways. Even though I have grown up abroad and have worked overseas for more than 12 years, the books, professors and guest lecturers have been able to challenge me to think in new and creative ways about subjects that are very relevant to the teams that I lead. (more…)
I first read Chasing the Dragon in the 1980’s. At the time, Jackie Pullinger was a superstar among missionaries as far as angsty New Zealand teenagers were concerned. She spoke plainly, unreservedly and often confrontationally. Jackie was a force majure to institutional faith, and she got away with it because few clerics were prepared to tackle the courage of a young, educated woman who, in following Jesus, chose to make a life in the notorious Walled City of Hong Kong. Whenever she spoke in New Zealand, Jackie managed to keep most Christians on the edge of their seats. She was, and remains, a remarkable person of faith and hope-filled humanity. (more…)
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”All of us have mulled through this question and dared to live a life of significance. We count the risk and drudge through the barriers that separate us from our victory. However, we bravely face trials because we know that there’s the promise of success around the corner – we understand that perseverance births purpose. As I stepped off the tarmac, I was greeted by a new Hong Kong – a culture that was facing the genocide of their traditions, customs, language, culture and freedom. Martin Luther King captured a nation and revealed his heartbeat through his deceleration, “I have a dream…”He had a dream of equality because he had hope for humanity. (more…)
Hong Kong is a city that I have enjoyed going to for many years. It is a place our family has seen as a vacation spot full of wonderful western food and fast paced shopping. It has a convenient subway system, orderly and on time bus and tram system as well as a beautiful harbor to enjoy. We have seen what many see when they come to this fast paced New York City style city; wealth and power. I prayed that coming to this advance I would have my eyes opened to new experiences and see this city from a new perspective. (more…)
Hong Kong is known as a port city and a historic drug haven, and more recently, as being given back to China by the British, with a fifty-year process of re-integration. Steve Tsang’s, A Modern History of Hong Kong helpfully informed us of the setting for our upcoming trip to this city in transition. But even the most accurate history only does so much to acquaint one with a new place. It cannot depict dynamics or smell, or really any of the senses well: they merely describe what is or was. In my recent experience of the country (with my two-month-old daughter and my mother in tow), I will attempt paint a picture through the impact of the places and people I encountered. (more…)
I was eager to go to Hong Kong and had my expectations of what the city looks like but was not sure what to expect in terms of immigration officials and the hospitality of the people of Hong Kong. I was excited and really looking forward to meet my cohort LPG 9, other cohort members and the George Fox faculty, most for the very first time. One big surprise was the fact that I did not require a visa to enter Hong Kong which is quite unusual and all along I was apprehensive thinking I would find a different situation at the port of entry. Additionally, I expected that traffic would be very slow and the streets would be crowded with people walking, riding motor bikes and bicycles as is typical of other Asian cities. I had previously visited Bangkok in Thailand, Varanasi and Mumbai in India and Seoul in South Korea. Seoul was different from the other Asian cities and was similar to any typical Western City. Some of expectations were met while the others were not but there were surprises as well. At the port of entry, I did not need a visa but it was a long process of interrogation before I was allowed in; on traffic, I was obviously surprised at the good flow of traffic and very organized public subway transport system, with very few motor bikes and bicycles and minimal numbers walking along the streets. Hong Kong is definitely different from other Asian cities that I have visited except Seoul whose transport system is equally efficient and organized. The surprises were many: like the number of tall towers across the city being more that 8,000 within such a small area of land to cater for the high population of over 7 million people; I had expected to see seafarers from the Hong Kong harbor but you could hardly recognize them from the crowd; The existence of churches like saddleback and the freedom of worship was a welcome surprise but I could sense a lot of caution and uncertainty about the future, especially after the end of the 50 years extension period after the 1997 takeover by China.
New Knowledge and Synthesis.
I was comfortable with the theme of Finance, Democracy and Mission, especially because my background is in Finance having previously worked as a CPA and a finance expert in the insurance industry before my full time involvement in ministry. I focused more on the mission aspect, especially because I had read the book by Steve Tsang, the modern History of Hong Kong where he has given details about Finance and Democracy in Hong Kong. Rev. Stephen Miller of Mission to Seafarers talked about the outreach to seafarers which was added knowledge of this unique group of people who spend most of their time in the sea. The mission to these seafarers is limited in time and cannot be based on relationship building but its unique how Rev Stephen is able to love on them and give a listening ear to them in communication the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. This is a group that I previously was not thinking about and will be praying for them and the missionaries that work with them.
Visiting the Wang Tai Sin Temple was both interesting but also very emotional. This was interesting because of my curiosity about their idol worship and the massive resourses devoted to building and equipping the temple. This was emotional because of the missional aspect of how our Lord and master Jesus Christ bleeds for this massive population that is still trapped in idol worship, the sacrifice made by the missionaries that have ventured to reach the Chinese population. It felt weird being a ‘tourist’ and standing there as I watched men and women take incence and worship idols, consult fortune tellers and do all other forms acts of worship, part of me wanted to just walk out but I also felt compassion for them and was silently praying for their salvation.
It was encouraging to listen to social worker Annissa Lui from the Lutheran social services and how they reach out to the people in Hon Kong and respond to their needs, especially those caught up in substance abuse. From my reading of Jackie Pullinger’s book, Chasing the Dragon, I expected that substance abuse and other social challenges affect a significant part of the Hong Kong population and its was encouraging to know that the government devotes resources to cater for these issues. It was particularly interesting hearing about the creative ways that they use to engage these vulnerable groups of the population. Our visit to the St Stephens Society was such a spiritually refreshing experience, especially the worship session. Seeing the people that had been transformed and hearing their testimonies was such an inspiration to me since we work in similar circumstances in Nairobi, Kenya and witnesses similar dramatic transformation of criminals and drug addicts. I had obviously hoped to meet Jackie Pullinger herself and hear her speak about her experiences and what she hopes for the future of the ministry and her perspective of the imminent takeover of Hong Kong by China but that did not happen. Their approach to ministry is unique and awakened a new perspective of practically living by Faith and allowing The Holy Spirit of God to lead in the work of ministry. This was an experience that I will keep remembering and that will keep influencing how I continue in doing ministry to the vulnerable members of society.
Our visit with Alex Fung’s Medical manufacturing business, was such a challenge and inspiration in using business as a means to do mission. His obedience to God literally giving the profits of the business for mission and using the business to reach the employees with the Gospel was unique and opened my eyes to other possibilities of doing mission work. It was also great to hear David Wong and his market place experience as a believer setting a great example and doing mission in the market place. I had previously visited companies in South Korea with similar business as a mission model but Alex Fung’s story was unique and very inspiring, I keep praying for his business especially because of the current strained business relations between the US and China.
Visiting church at the Vine was a great experience at the service and our session back at the Hotel talking about our different experiences in the two churches that people attended. It gave me a good introduction to visual ethnography and raised my interest in research using visual ethnography. Our visit to the saddleback Church was also very inspiring on how to apply creativity and leverage knowledge and experience gained in the market place for mission. The excellence of doing church at the saddleback church was unique and eye opening at how I can leverage the skills and knowledge gained in the market place for mission.
As mentioned above, there was a lot that I learned in Hong Kong but there are experiences that will live with me and continue to influence the way I do ministry. Alex fung’s business as a mission model was a big inspiration for me and an affirmation of what we are doing in our holistic ministry to empower the poor economically as we also do business to sustain our organization, Missions of hope International. Our visit to St Stephens’s society and reading Jackie Pullinger’s story was a spiritually refreshing experience that made me long for more of The Holy Spirit experience in our ministry to the vulnerable. Their total reliance on God and allowing The holy Spirit to lead in their work is something that will continue to inspire me and will have a definite impact in my prayer life. My hope and prayer is that God will give me another opportunity to visit Hong Kong again and especially to meet Jackie Pullinger and visit Alex fung’s ministry.
 Steve Tsang, A Modern History Of Hong Kong (London, I. B. Tauris, 2007).
Andrew Quicke & Jackie Pullinger, Chasing The dragon, (London, Hodder & Stroughton, 2006 Feb 16.)
 Missions of Hope International, www.mohiafrica.org.
 Andrew Quicke & Jackie Pullinger, Chasing The dragon, (London, Hodder & Stroughton, 2006 Feb 16.)