Let me ask you, which infrastructure or building do you find most important in your community and will make you feel devastated without it? It could be the school that is the place children receive education, or it could also be the hospital because going to check-ups elsewhere is a hassle. It could also be the bus station because commuting during peak hours is crucial for work. With all the possible answers, is church one of them? If not, it means that the church and the community are not closely knit enough to care.
I once heard a sharing by a pastor from mainland China. When the cross was forcefully removed from the church, it did not worry any community members. As that pastor reflected on it, the realisation was that the community perceives the church as nothing more than a building with no real connection to the community, causing people’s indifference. Since then, the pastor has led the church in serving their surrounding community and introducing the church to people, making the church part of the community to which it belongs. As the brothers and sisters from the church continue to serve in the community, they have also grown in their understanding of the Lord’s words and the mission carried by the church.
The story of that pastor has set a great example for churches and Christians in Hong Kong. With Hong Kong being a small city, churches are prevalent in this place. As a popular belief amongst Christians, the church is merely a gathering place that is distant from the community. Owing to the pandemic, there were plenty of opportunities for churches and Christians to go into different communities, such as people who live alone, primary caregivers, single-parent grassroots families, and people with mental illness. We also witnessed how churches had actioned on caring for the weak by distributing meal vouchers and COVID-19 prevention packs; all of these are responding to the needs of the community. It is at these challenging times that the Lord teaches us the true meaning of ‘love your neighbour’ – where God’s grace is to be testified at the moment we walk into the communities of need.
‘From Church, Through Church’ underlies everything we do at CEDAR. It encourages churches to connect with the community, on the same journey and walk the same way. It is more than responding to obvious requests; it is also about addressing the needs by putting ourselves in their shoes. With that, the church will manifest its power to grow the community’s proactiveness and potential. Ultimately, we are more pleased to see that brothers and sisters in the church could be transformed spiritually by serving the communities, making them the vessels of God.
‘In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’
The church is never just a building, it is the body of Christ. We want to see more churches and Christians going beyond the walls of the church and physically into the communities that we are called to care for and respond to; for all the good service we do, the people will give glory to our Father in Heaven.
Chan Pui Si