Tag Archive for: Hong Kong

Serving people from Hong Kong in the U.K.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Just days ago, I was at a market in central Liverpool in northern England enjoying Hong Kong cuisine with a family of four. While we ate, they emotionally explained the events that led to their decision to uproot their family from Hong Kong and move to London, 9,000 miles away. “We can understand the Ukrainian refugees,” they said. “We felt we had no choice.”

On another recent occasion I was invited by members of our sister synod in Hong Kong to visit a church in Liverpool with services in Mandarin and Cantonese. The pastor explained how in early 2020 his was a little congregation. “We grew from 20 to 130 people in one year.” He added, “We need basic Bible training.” Those who had invited me to the service concurred.

Due to changes in Hong Kong law, the United Kingdom has opened the door for Hong Kong citizens to immigrate to the U.K. In fact, more than 20 percent of members and leaders from WELS’ sister synod in Hong Kong have already moved to the U.K., with more on the way. It is estimated that up to two million people will relocate from Hong Kong to the U.K. during the current immigration wave.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This immigration wave presents a clear opportunity to share the gospel with these new arrivals. My family and I look forward to moving to the U.K. this summer as I continue to serve this mission field. If God wills it, WELS World Missions plans to call a second missionary this year to assist with outreach to the Hong Kong people in the U.K. Please pray for God’s blessings and consider a special mission offering today.

Serving together,
Rev. Michael Hartman
Missionary to London & U.K.

P.S. I invite you to watch my recent interview to learn more about this mission.

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Serving the gathered and scattered in London

Dear Friend,

London is a great city. London’s population of almost nine million people includes migrants from around the globe. Nine percent of the total population of the United Kingdom (UK) has a nationality of a different country. The well-known children’s book character Paddington Bear said it like this, “In London, everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in.” Last year UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that he intended to allow nearly three million people from Hong Kong to move to the UK because of new national security laws imposed by China on that former British colony. Now people from Hong Kong are arriving daily.

On top of the many sights, smells, and experiences such a diverse city can provide to a traveler, one thing in particular will jump out at mission-minded Christians: There is opportunity to bring Jesus to the people of this great city. More people in London consider themselves non-Christian than Christian, including Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists, undecideds, and atheists. God has always been concerned with the masses who do not know him. In the last verse of Jonah, we read, “So should I not be concerned for Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than one hundred twenty thousand people who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left?” (Jonah 4:11). God has loved them from eternity and has sent his Son to save them. Jesus’ saving work is done, and now God’s messengers take this Good News to the world—to places like London.

Since the 1980s a group of WELS-connected believers have been gathering in London. They worshiped and studied the Bible together with visiting pastors but did not have an organized church to call their own. There are now more than 50 families who could potentially form a new congregation in the capital of Great Britain. We are also making connections to brothers and sisters from Pakistan who reside in London. And more than 20 percent of members and leaders from WELS’ partner church in Hong Kong have already moved to the UK, with more on the way. It’s time for a new mission start! With God’s guidance we have called Missionary Mike Hartman to serve the gathered and scattered in London. He accepted the call, and his family hopes to move to London in mid-2022.

You can help! Your prayers are needed; there are major challenges when starting a new mission. Your Spirit-filled excitement over this new opportunity can help us spread the news to fellow members. We estimate the cost for our first year in London to be over $125,000. We need to make visits to the dozens of connections we have across London and the UK; find and rent housing, office, and worship space; and develop outreach publications and media. And if God wills it, we plan to call a second missionary to help with the work. If you are able, your gift of support is most welcome.

We share our Lord’s concern for great cities like London. The many diverse people need the gospel. God has given us an open door to share it. May he bless his people with his Spirit as he leads many more to join his family for eternity.

Your Brother in Christ,
Rev. Larry Schlomer
Administrator, WELS Board for World Missions

Prayer: Jesus, you are the head of the Church, and we praise for finding ways to bring the saving gospel to your people all over the world, even in places where most people have turned away from you. Thank you for hearing the prayers of your people in the London area and sending them Missionary Mike Hartman. May the congregation continue to be zealous for outreach so that people from many nations find their everlasting home. Amen.

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Bad things with good purposes

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

In January 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak in China was terrible news for Hong Kong citizens. When we read the news of a new, deadly virus, we all recalled the memories of SARs in 2003.

The Spring Festival in China has been called the largest annual human migration in the world. People travel back to their hometown to celebrate the Spring Festival. In early 2020, it was expected that three billion Chinese citizens would take trips home during the Spring Festival. We were afraid that the Spring Festival traveling would make the COVID-19 pandemic worse. Hong Kong citizens have almost daily interactions with China. Students and the working class travel across borders every day. We all remembered that the SARs virus in 2003 was brought across the border, and the outbreak in Hong Kong caused huge loss of life. But due to that experience, we took immediate action and started wearing face masks in public areas. God uses our painful experience to prepare us for today.

Learning Greek online!

When we read the headlines, the number of cases increased every day. People ran to supermarket bought toilet papers, rice, canned food, etc. Schools, libraries, parks, and government offices were closed. Our city became so quiet! The busy downtown area had very few pedestrians, restaurants had a lot of empty tables, and you could even get a seat in buses and trains. That is very abnormal in Hong Kong! No classes, no social gatherings! We were encouraged to stay home to save lives. Our busy life was slowed down. Was it bad?

God turns bad things to good! We had plenty of time at home with quality time to read books and devotions. Parents had time to talk to their children. We had time to think about our friends, relatives, and neighbors. I wrote emails and messages to friends in Hong Kong and overseas. We live far away, but God connects us together with His good news.

The COVID-19 virus is teaching us to be humble! The headlines reported even celebrities tested positive. Despite their wealth and fame, no one was safe from this virus. People are busy running businesses, earning money, hoping to buy a big house, and find different ways to climb up the social hierarchy. All those things can’t help us: only God helps! Only God is more powerful than the COVID-19! Seek God’s mercy!

Bible classes and worships are stopped physically, but we put classes and worship online. We realize that people need to keep the physical distance, but God gives technology to draw us close to him. We need to be thankful to have social media and technology to broadcast God’s messages. Can you imagine if we didn’t have Facebook, Zoom, Instagram, and WeChat in our daily life? God teaches us gratitude.

We can’t stop the pandemic, but God controls it! No matter how fast the high-speed trains and air jets are, we are all stuck at home and can’t travel. We’re thankful to medical professionals that save many lives through their innovations, but we don’t have a method to cure COVID-19.

We are mortal, but God gives us eternal life. God uses the bad things for good purposes! Even in your worst-case scenario, God is still with you. We have time to have come close to God and to have quality spiritual life with family and friends. Don’t wait! Tell your friends about God’s good news: God is greater than COVID-19!

Written by Yvonne Yeung, senior editor for Multi-Language Productions in Hong Kong

 

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Church in Hong Kong celebrates 40th anniversary

On Dec. 3, Southeast Asian Lutheran Evangelical Mission (SALEM) celebrated 40 years of bringing the peace of the gospel to the people of Hong Kong. The theme for this anniversary year was “Strong in the grace of Jesus.” Six hundred members from SALEM’s ten churches gathered together along with a number of special guests for a joint worship service. In the evening, four hundred gathered for a traditional Cantonese banquet. 

Pastor Titus Tse and the directors of SALEM led the celebration. Leaders from all of SALEM’s churches participated in some way as well as ten young people considering full-time ministry.    

Special guests included Carol Schroeder, wife of SALEM’s first WELS missionary, Gary Schroeder. The Schroeders came to Hong Kong in 1975. Carol shared that they felt it was extremely important to take time to do two things—learn the local Cantonese language and spend time with people developing a relationship so that they could share the gospel.  

Another guest was Mark Sprengeler, who began his service as a WELS missionary in Hong Kong in 1984. He learned Cantonese and helped start three congregations. Now retired, Sprengeler shared his experiences in still fluent Cantonese. He recalled teaching dozens of English classes a week, looking for opportunities to share the gospel. God was faithful, and many students became Christians.  

Dr. John Lawrenz of Asia Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong also encouraged those present. Asia Lutheran Seminary has been a key ministry to assist SALEM to train pastors and help dedicated laypeople grow spiritually.  

In 2017, SALEM deepened its ties with sister churches around the world as it became a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference and declared official fellowship with WELS.  

With solid theological roots, a strong outreach program, and an Asia Lutheran Seminary increasingly staffed by local pastors and teachers, SALEM can look forward with hope to the next 40 years.        


Rob Siirila, WELS missionary to Hong Kong 


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Author: Rob Siirila
Volume 105, Number 2
Issue: February 2018

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Happy Chinese New Year

“San-nihn faai-lohk” or Happy New Year in Cantonese Chinese, the language spoken in Hong Kong.

We are finishing up the New Year celebrations for the Chinese Year of the Sheep, which have lasted about two weeks. This is the equivalent to the celebration of Christmas in the States. There are three official consecutive days off of work for banks and government offices, so no mail. Restaurants are open and welcoming with higher prices. Family members are obligated to come home to visit their moms and dads, so airports, train and bus stations are crowded.

The first day of the holiday is usually celebrated with close family members. The second and third days are for visits to extended family members – aunts, uncles, etc. A wrapped present of a tin of cookies, chocolate candy or a box of imported noodles is always presented to the host. A New Year visit is never done empty-handed. (As a result, grocery stores set up gift wrapping tables just like the malls in the U.S. at Christmas.)

Homes are decorated with fresh flowers or plants, as well as red banners and pictures with Chinese blessing phrases written on them. One of the popular blessings is a wish for money and prosperity in the New Lunar Year. As a result, red envelopes or “lai ci” filled with money are given out as gifts to the children in the home visited. In Hong Kong, it’s also expected to give the red envelopes to show appreciation to the service people who keep the neighborhood clean and safe.

Unfortunately at this time, the Buddhist and Taoist temples are also filled with people buying offerings of fruit or burning incense to gain blessing for the New Year or to honor ancestors.

The Christian community here in Hong Kong has church as usual around all the celebrations. We thank the Lord for His blessings of salvation through Jesus, for his protection and preservation in His world, for good health, and for His light to shine in Asia!

May the Lord God, the Father, Son and Spirit, bless your Year of the Sheep with His peace through Jesus!

Mary Witte (missionary wife in Hong Kong)