We are Sojourners, and We are the Neighbors of Sojourners
By Rev Libby Wang
October 22, 2023
September 2000 was the time I arrived in Hong Kong for a full year. By invitation, I attended a new Putonghua worship service of an Anglican Church. There were not many in the congregation, but there were newcomers almost every week. At that time, I teamed up with a dedicated sister to start a group Bible study after the worship service. It was also an opportunity for us to get to know one another. We had tea together between the worship service and the Bible study. One time when chatting with a newcomer, I thought to myself: We are all in transit. Many newcomers come just once, and for me, I will have to change to another church for internship next year. How does the LORD see the conversation between us at this hour?
Hong Kong has all along been seen as a city of migrants and visitors. According to the 2021 Census, Hong Kong born people make up 61.7% of the entire population. The number of non-ethnic Chinese people totaled 619,568, or about 8.4% of the population. From the end of 1997 until the end of 2021, a total of 1.121 million One Way Permit holders from the Mainland had come to Hong Kong. Deducting a net outflow of 681,000 people, the remaining 440,000 people make up a big part of the 937,000 population increase over the past 25 years. The migration tide in the past few years in Hong Kong really comprises two parts, with one being the outflow of migrants to other countries and the other an inflow of young Mainland people who seek education and work in Hong Kong. There are also grandparents who come to help young couple migrants look after the kids, and those who settle in Hong Kong as a result of cross-border marriages. All these people are now our neighbors.
As strangers and sojourners before God, we need to remember and make an effort to carry out the exhortation of God: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34). Back in 1998, NPAC has served the children of new arrivals in Hong Kong and low-income families with schemes including “Comprehensive Development Scheme for School Children”, “Grassroot Visitation Team” and “Homework Assistance for Newly Arrived Children,” etc. In 2013, the kids who had then grown up, along with their parents, became the founding members of Grace & Joy Church. Such ministries are still ongoing in NPAC and Grace & Joy Church today.
Some brothers and sisters and friends have referred to us new arrivals in need of care. In addition to the above ministries of the Social Concern Department, the worship services, fellowships and small groups under the Putonghua Ministry are also readily available platforms to welcome and serve these friends. Meanwhile, from the 2012-2013 school year, we have taken part in the “Goodwill Family Scheme” of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) via their faculty gospel mission group. In the 2018-2019 school year, Hong Kong Baptist University also had a similar scheme as that in PolyU. Later, apart from the “Goodwill Family Scheme,” PolyU added the “Teachers and Friends Scheme.” We are grateful to God for having mobilized many families in NPAC to become parents, and elder brothers and sisters of these students by committing to caring for them. Occasionally, brothers and sisters of the NPAC family have also invited their classmates and friends to attend meetings of the Cantonese congregations.
When NPAC was first established, many pastors and brothers and sisters also spoke Putonghua. NPAC also has the background of bilingual worship services. Today, under the spiritual tradition of carrying out the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, may the Lord use the NPAC family to become the neighbors of new arrivals in Hong Kong!