“Canada and Canadians have deep ties with Hong Kong. We feel the pain and suffering and uncertainty many people in Hong Kong are experiencing now. The gospel calls us to grieve with those who grieve, to bear witness to the pain and needs of others, to show solidarity with and hospitality to the needy, and to lift up and attend to their spiritual needs.”
On March 21, I was privileged to participate in “A Cross-Canada Day of Prayer for Hong Kong.” The words above were printed in the service bulletin. Initiated by the Mustard Seeds Hong Kong Concern Group and organized by The Canadian Council of Churches, the prayer service brought together Christians from a broad spectrum of churches. While the issues in Hong Kong are deeply political (with China continuing to exert its influence) the service did not have a political agenda or intent. It was a pastoral response to a complex situation as Canadian Christians gathered online to pray with and for our siblings in Hong Kong who are struggling, as well as with Canadians who have connections with or family living there.
“There is grief and fear in Hong Kong, O God, but there is also desire for love, peace, and justice,” we prayed. “Bring your comfort and wisdom. Bring your guidance and Spirit, that we may all hold each other up and hear the needs expressed for livelihood, for safety, for peace, for reconciliation, for freedom, for rights, for justice.” We reflected on the peaceful vision from the Prophet Isaiah (11:6) in which “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”
As the event was about to begin and it became clear that several hundred people would be attending, one of the participants exclaimed with delighted surprise that so many Canadians, Christians, and Christian leaders would come together to pray for Hong Kong.
Rev. Stephen Kendall, President of the Canadian Council of Churches, drew our attention to the 2018 consensus statement of the CCC, Principles of Peace. This document suggests that where there are right relationships, there is peace, and right relationships are grounded in justice. Inner peace is a gift from Jesus himself, and peace is also the mission of God’s people. It concludes that, “Peace is a dynamic state of well-being and harmony – right relationships among people and nature where there is no fear. Nothing and no one is excluded from God’s vision of peace; it includes all nations, cultures, and peoples, the whole inhabited Earth, indeed the whole cosmos.”
The service acknowledged that there are many Canadians in Hong Kong, and some will want to come to Canada. Our Christian responsibility will be to welcome them with care and hospitality, being particularly aware of the need to stand against anti-Asian racism. We were encouraged to pray about the anticipated massive migration out of Hong Kong, to pray for those who leave and for those who remain, and to pray for the welfare of all the citizens, no matter their political positions. Much more may be required of the churches of Canada as people from Hong Kong begin to land on our shores.
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