LAMsLINKs #3, 2021
Facing a Task Unfinished
But You are the same and Your years will have no end. (Hebrews 1:12b)
Dear Friends and Family,
On July 1, 2021, HKSAR celebrated its 24th year since the handover in 1997, which coincided with the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary. Xia Baolong, head of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office recently addressed a summit held online by the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies; he commented that 'true patriots' should head the SAR's administrative, legislative and judicial institutions and that this should be made top priority. Those who go against China and disrupt HK, resort to 'scorched earth' tactics, and demand foreign sanctions against China and HK are not considered patriots; they are not eligible to serve in government positions, nor in its various branches and statutory bodies. Xia's keynote speech mentioned five principles to reform and uphold the city’s electoral system; most importantly, HK must 'respect the Central Authorities’ leadership', and reforms must be carried out under their lead, all of which would safeguard national security and maintain the city’s prosperity and stability. For further reading: https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/165961/Five-principles-of-%22Patriots-governing-Hong-Kong%22-laid-down-by-top-Beijing-official\
Amidst other global news, please remember HK in your prayers:
High profile government positions have been filled in the recent reshuffle by people with police background/experience (some were prominent in managing the 2019 violent protests), and gives the impression of a strong militant 'law and order' persona for officials;
Emigration figures are high since the implementation of the National Security Law on July 1, 2020. Medical doctors are inundated with patients' requests for medical reports for emigration. At least 40 people (singles and families) from a colleague's church have left HK, and the church therefore put a 'financial freeze' on hiring any new staff. Another colleague mentioned that one third of her husband’s school's alumni class have emigrated.
Though HK did not need a 'lockdown' as in many other countries, health experts have highlighted the negative impact of the pandemic on the mental health of HK people, whether through unemployment, depression, despondency among young people, and an aging population;
The uncertainty of how/when China will respond to religious freedom in HK is a pressing question. Strategic thinking combined with faith principles is necessary to prepare. Please pray for our organization, other mission-related agencies, and local churches as we consider various scenarios, new models for ministry, channeling of financial support, practical intermediate goals, etc.
Thank you in advance for keeping our family and ministries in prayer:
HEALTH: Rod especially, and Judy to a lesser extent, continue with regular medical checkups -- all is well. The 3 Lams in HK and the youngest in London are in good health, though a little weary from the hot weather in the N. Hemisphere. Very thankful for aircons and fans!!! We have been fully vaccinated with both BioNTech vaccines, while Joshua's second Pfizer jab is still outstanding. We remain cautious; live simply and eat healthily; minimal socialization; seldom eat out at restaurants, so plenty cooking and chores!!! We were blessed recently with a little oven from a colleague's friend who will be emigrating to the UK in October -- thankful because our old oven under-baked on the bottom and burnt the cakes on the top. In nearly 30 years in HK, we have never purchased a new oven, fridge, or TV -- all hand me downs!
ROD (cross-border ministry): both groups are growing spiritually, despite irregular attendance in the Monday group due to work pressures, and one member joining a new fellowship. Deo Gratias! Please pray for: (1) Ms.
F. -- for wisdom, discernment and decisions -- she recently completed a TOEFL course to improve her English, and would like to pursue theological training either in the US or Singapore. Her church leaders feel though that she first needs to establish her call and gifting, and rather apply for an online course while serving the church. (2) Mr. J has been undergoing treatment for his liver, and the side effects are causing great discomfort. Please pray for guidance as to whether to continue with the treatment; hopefully the doctors will find the cause of these side effects and adjust the treatment.
JUDY: amidst many unfinished tasks and frustrations, Judy plods along with her research, thankful for a much needed writing retreat (July 4-9). Deo Gratias! Please pray for extra determination/concentration as she wraps up Chapter 3 by the end of July (on Hudson Taylor's commentary on the Song of Songs, published in 1894, entitled Union and Communion). By end December, D.V., she hopes to complete Chapter 4 on 'The Exchanged Life' -- a transformative experience in Taylor's life, around the age of 37, which occurred in Zhenjiang.1 He often referred to this pivotal point in his writings and public addresses, particularly when expounding John 15 (the True Vine) and John 4 (the Living Water). Judy was also inspired recently (and academically challenged) by two online conferences: June 21-23, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, on 'John of the Cross: Carmel, Desire and Transformation'; and July 3-5, Liverpool Hope University, UK, on the theme: 'Thinking about Nothing: Negation, Philosophy and the Mystical'. For your interest, 14 recordings of the first conference are available on YouTube,2 covering a wide range of perspectives, including psychotherapy/mental health. Several books by these scholars are accessible at local university and seminary libraries, which will provide contemporary references (and excellent footnotes) for Judy's thesis.
MIKAELA wrote the second module exam of her MA in Education, on May 21; however, a technical hiccup occurred with the uploading, and she submitted her paper within the 15 minutes allowed upon completion of the exam. The system rejected her late submission, so she filed an official complaint with the University to request that her paper be marked. She still needs to complete several more complaint procedures. Please pray for the matter to be resolved in order to improve her overall grade. In terms of work, she is grateful for the timely English editing of Mr Lo's third book on Cantonese Allegories, and having fun with the interesting translations of Cantonese phrases. Since the end of June, Mika has also enjoyed a little reprieve and change of routine by house-sitting and 'dog sitting' for a young couple from church; their high-rise apartment is near the beach, so revelling in dog and nature photography! Deo Gratias! God continues to provide in marvelous ways for her needs. The almost brand new Siemens washing machine was a freebee from a colleague's relatives who, while renovating their new apartment, discovered the machine was too big for the space allocated!!!
JOSHUA: his patience, positive outlook and persistence have paid off! He commenced a new job as a paralegal on July 5 -- an initial 6 month contract -- handling claims for a reputable international law firm. Deo Gratias! The firm delivered 2 monitors and a desktop to his door! His case load has increased dramatically after initial training, but at least he does not have to commute working from home. Thanks for praying that God would provide Josh with a new challenge, more diverse experience, and higher salary. Paying the monthly bills and living in London is quite stressful. An added stress was being underpaid for a heavy workload and high level of responsibility in his first job in London, though he is thankful for the valuable experience. 'O it is tough to be an adult', are his oft-repeated sighs, but generally he feels blessed and buoyant.
FINANCIAL: God never ceases to amaze us! At the end of June, our YTD support stood at 105%, thanks to a few surprising one off gifts. May God bless you for your unfailing support and cheerful giving in the midst of a pandemic! From our side, we try our best to support some of the refugees/asylum seekers in practical ways through our church; for example, by sharing clothing, foodstuff, household items, electrical appliances, etc. that are passed to us through various contacts, including people leaving HK.
SOUTH AFRICANS IN PRISON: for the past 5 years we been visiting 2 young SAn women in prison who were arrested in 2015 for drug trafficking. What a joy to see lives turn around for good, the difference that faith in Christ makes in people constrained behind bars, and the hope that keeps the human spirit alive. We have also kept regular communications with one of these young women's relatives (in Johannesburg). When we visited Ms. F last month, her infectious smile and happy chatty mood brightened our week! Though the visit is only 30 minutes (talking through phones and peering through glass windows), every minute is precious. She intends to complete her B.Sc. in Psychology through The Open University of HK by end of 2022 or Spring 2023, provided the sponsorship continues. She handwrites her assignments, manually counts the number of words per assignment (maximum of 2000), and puts in hours every night for reading (and any spare moment during lunchtime). Remarkable dedication without computers and aircon! Deo Gratias! On weekdays, they are kept busy in their workshop making masks or garments for the prison or hospitals. Every Sunday, they have a voluntary bible study, led by a visiting chaplain or priest. Ms. F is positive and flourishing, as evident in the handmade cards she sends us on special occasions (left pic). In contrast, Ms C seems to be struggling in many ways; we have tried on several occasions recently to visit her, but she has not been available. Please pray that the Spirit would encourage these young women as they serve out their remaining 5 years.
With loving greetings and gratitude from Hong Kong,
Rod and Judy
July 24, 2021
------ p.s. -------
FACING A TASK UNFINISHED (a vignette from the CIM's history):3
During the Great Depression of the 1930's, D E Hoste (1861-1946), successor to Hudson Taylor as General Director of the China Inland Mission (CIM), called for urgent prayer for more workers for China. Amazingly, 200 men and women came forth; and it was during this great movement of God that the Frank Houghton (1894-1972)4 -- from Stafford, Staffordshire, England; CIM missionary (1920-1928); and CIM's General Director (1940-51) -- penned the words of the now famous hymn 'Facing a Task Unfinished' (boosted with a contemporary refrain):5
1 Facing a task unfinished
that drives us to our knees, a need that, undiminished, rebukes our slothful ease, we who rejoice to know you renew before your throne the solemn pledge we owe you to go and make you known.
2 Where other lords beside you hold their unhindered sway, where forces that defied you defy you still today, with none to heed their crying for life and love and light, unnumbered souls are dying and pass into the night.
3 We bear the torch that flaming fell from the hands of those who gave their lives proclaiming that Jesus died and rose; ours is the same commission, the same glad message ours; fired by the same ambition, to you we yield our pow'rs.
4 O Father, who sustained them, O Spirit, who inspired, Savior, whose love constrained them to toil with zeal untired, from cowardice defend us, from lethargy awake! Forth on your errands send us to labor for your sake.
4 https://hymnary.org/person/Houghton_F; also see © The Cyber Hymnal™ (www.hymntime.com/tch)
5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFHdPCNIiwM (with Keith & Kristyn Getty's contemporary refrain added);
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMkXlEdsRcM (with lyrics and congregational singing);
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwyCZXriHv0 (Chinese/Mandarin translation)
We also add with sadness that
Rod's uncle Conrad (15th July) and his cousin Trenton (21st July) both passed
away through Covid in South Africa. Please remember the families at this time in
2022 will be an important
we celebrate 30
years in HK, D.V.
Current Chief Executive Mrs. Carrie Lam's first term will end on 30th June 2022.
She is eligible for another five year term.
3. July 1 is the HKSAR 25th
anniversary since the handover in 1997 from Britain back to
4. November 30 is the final
date for the submission of Judy's thesis to the University of the Free
remain prayerful on this journey of faith, hope and love.