Rod and Judy Lam newsletter Jan-July`20
News from Hong Kong
LamsLinks (Jan-July 2020)
And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land,
I will make you lie down in safety
(Hosea 2:18 ESV)
We never rest till the Comforter makes us lie down.
Dear Friends and Family
The pandemic has caused a 'great pause' for all peoples and all nations to slow down the relentless rat race, though the cost to human life and the world economy has been enormous. It all comes at a price. Yet the great pause offers something priceless: stillness, silence and slowness. Like Elijah, it is a momentous time to listen for God's voice -- not in the wind and fire -- but for the still small voice. This is a priceless invitation to BE, and to be present to all that is, prompting us to evaluate our activism, performance and achievements in light of eternity, the Eternal Now. When our eyes have been opened and we 'see' God (as Job exclaims), the magnitude and munificence of the Trinity induces us to pray: "as it was in the beginning is now and ever shalt be, world without end. Amen!"
So here we are, by that munificent grace of God, sending along a few updates and thanking you for joining us in praise and petitions:
ROD: after a 6-month Home Assignment (HA), which was originally scheduled for February 1 to April 30, Rod finally returned to HK on July 13 (via a rather costly Ethiopian repatriation flight). Heartfelt thanks for the generous gifts received to help offset the airfare; the balance will be paid by our Sector. PTL, Rod tested negative on arrival and spent 14 days in mandatory quarantine at a designated facility; he was impressed by the excellent service of the HK Dept of Health (DOH), providing even diabetic meals, medication, and even a local SIM card so that the DOH officers could contact him for daily health checks. He was discharged on July 27, and is staying at a church friend's B&B (Shatin) till August 2. Please pray as he helps prepare bible study material for one of the SZ group leaders; and for the resumption of Rod's ministry through online forms -- until such time that the pandemic passes and cross-border travel is reopened and deemed safe.
JOSH: returned from the UK on July 18, tested negative on arrival, and is currently in self isolation at home (Tai Wai) till midnight, Aug 1. He received his 3rd year Law results and is very pleased with his overall 2:1 grade -- a higher average than last year. Heartfelt gratitude to all who supported him financially and prayerfully through these 3 years of Law studies at Warwick University. May the Lord's blessing rest upon Josh as he enters his chapter of adulthood. Please pray that doors will be opened for a suitable job/internship at a Law firm (in the UK or HK). For the first time since graduating from high school, he has no summer job!
MOTHER & DAUGHTER: heartfelt thanks for praying for Judy and Mika during these months in HK. It has been emotionally exhausting dealing with complex personal, societal and theological issues and Mika's deep questions, the accumulative and unconscious stresses from the year-long protests in HK, and anxiety and paranoia exacerbated by Covid-19, especially
when commuting on the jam-packed trains. Her survival option is to travel by taxi, which is costly. The prolonged pandemic has also affected her private tutoring and reduced her monthly income, as young students prefer face to face tutoring. Thankfully, her curriculum development for a local company provides some income and continuity. Please pray for God's provision during this crucial time and for inner healing, peace, clarity, joy, etc. -- a future and a hope! Please also pray for Judy that she will have physical strength and mental energy to complete Chapter 2 (The Literature Review) while she stays temporarily at a colleague's apartment (Ma On Shan) till our family can be reunited. The libraries have shut again because of the daily spike in local Covid infections; PTL, she managed to borrow several key works just in time and has the necessary material for Chapter 3 for the coming months.
FAMILY: we are relieved that the 4 Lams are finally in one city, though living in 4 different places -- looking forward with great anticipation to our family reunion on August 2 to reconnect and regroup after a long separation. Though we and our colleagues are mostly working from home, please pray that we will all be protected from Covid-19 in this densely populated city where the daily increase in infections has been alarming.
HONG KONG: as in the case of other countries, please pray for frontline health workers, staff at elderly homes, and HK government officials as they monitor the pandemic. One medical expert believes the infection rate can be brought under control within a month. New stringent measures are in place: schools are closed until further notice, only 40% of civil servants are allowed to work at their offices; day time dining in has been limited to 2 people; only takeaways allowed at restaurants after 6pm; from July 25, new restrictions for travellers from high risk countries, etc. On the political front, while street protests and mass gatherings have been banned, resulting in a greater sense of calm after political violence ripped the city apart, the situation is uncertain and tense as activists face fear, uncertainty, silencing, and court sentencing after the introduction of the new National Security Law. We appeal for more concerted prayer for HK people's adjustment to the new way forward under the One Country, Two Systems policy. Please pray also that religious freedom will not be affected.
Looking back with thanks on the first half of 2020 and sharing a few reflections on HA:
HOSPITALITY: special thanks to our extended families who provided homes and hospitality so that Rod could "lie down in safety" amid the surge in Covid-19 infections in SA -- and for all their practical help and advice with regard to Rod's eventual return flight to HK.
HOME CHURCH: the bonus of an extra three months of home assignment was both providential and fortuitous, allowing for quality time with our home church Brackendowns Baptist Church (BBC). It was a joy to reconnect and to renew our mutual commitment to mission. We especially appreciated the warm welcome by the interim pastoral couple, Rev Emlyn and Mariette Bucher. Please pray for them as they seek the Lord's leading for their next chapter. BBC has extended a call to a senior pastoral couple, and we wait to hear of further developments over the coming months.
THE CAPE: Rod was thankful for God's timing, allowing the whole of March to be uninterrupted by the pandemic so that he could meet with supporters and churches in Cape Town (including the Chinese Christian Fellowship), and elderly prayer partners in Sedgefield. However, in his home city Port Elizabeth (PE), meetings were cancelled shortly after his arrival at the end of March, when the lockdown was suddenly announced. He spent nearly 9 weeks
there, the longest since he left in 1984, staying with his elderly mother whose caregiver needed to be with her family during lockdown.
CHRISTIAN CHARITY: during the lockdown, several churches and other faith communities reached out to needy communities through various food schemes and providing shelter for the homeless. Judy’s second brother, for example, donated food parcels to an elderly home and a nearby township, as his catering business was shut for several months because of the lockdown.
FAITHFUL PRAYER: many of our prayer partners and supporters are elderly, but the Lord has faithfully kept them in His love, enabling them to pray and support us over the years. Some even went beyond the second mile, contributing extra financial support when Rod’s lockdown was extended. May they be blessed and rewarded: "the Macedonian churches out of a severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty, welled up in rich generosity" (2 Cor 8:1-2). Please pray that God will sustain them and we hope to meet again this side of heaven.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Despite the global financial crisis (and SA's exchange rate which diminished 22% in 6 months and downgraded to junk status), none of our supporters have stopped supporting us. At the end of June, our support level was at 87% YTD!!!
SUFFERING & LOSS: several friends in SA have been infected with Covid-19 and have recovered or are recovering, thankfully; the effects of this global pandemic are sobering indeed; has raised awareness of mental health and abuse issues, unprecedented anxiety and depression; many have lost their jobs, loved ones, and are living with great distress; medical doctors and health workers are experiencing PTSD after difficult decisions in the face of the high mortality rate; sadly, there are those dying separated from and without the comfort of their loved ones. May God grant grace and mercy to our world, as we pray for the healing of the nations.
We conclude knowing that the God we adore can be trusted fully for all that's to come. The hymn "How Good is the God we Adore"
by Joseph Hart (1712-1768) expresses it well, a hymn which brings assurance, encouragement and hope in times like these:
1 For the music score, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P3END84ouw
Interestingly, the hymn was sung at the Memorial Service for D. Martyn Lloyd Jones' on 6th April 1981, Westminster Chapel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r1amUICtO0
For a lively kiddies' version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvGtKWubxVA
How good is the God we adore, Our faithful unchangeable Friend: Whose love is as great as His power, And knows neither measure nor end! 'Tis Jesus, the First and the Last, Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home; We'll praise Him for all that is past, And trust Him for all that's to come.
With love and gratitude,
Rod, Judy, Mika and Josh
July 30, 2020