Some Hong Kongers have already made their way here, and Trinity Baptist Church in Derby has already started to be a place of welcome for them. Sharon Shek, a Hong Kong national who made the move to the UK in February 2021 contacted Baptists Together, and was able to start making connections with churches whilst she was still in Hong Kong enabling her to easily contact the minister of Trinity Baptist, Revd. Ellen Price, when she arrived in the UK.
Like many immigrants, it is clear from speaking to Sharon that there are enormous obstacles facing Hong Kong nationals as they enter the UK. In Hong Kong, Sharon was a minister in a large Baptist Church, overseeing the church’s outreach ministries in the 4,500 strong congregation. Here in the UK, as Sharon says, she is having to learn everything from the start again. Now, retraining as an electrician, Sharon is keen to welcome other Hong Kong nationals and support them as they adjust to a new life here. At Trinity Baptist, Ellen says that as part of their church’s vision to have a community of openness to all, they are praying that Sharon can gather Chinese speakers, particularly those who arrive from Hong Kong over the next months to become one of their small groups.
With the added difficulties caused by the coronavirus restrictions, a warm welcome to people like Sharon from a church was even more vital. Sharon notes how encouraging it was to receive flowers from a member of the church, practical help and information, as well as invitations to join online gatherings and face-to face meet ups. ‘The first thing we need is information,’ says Sharon and to be precise – correct information, clearly given in verbal form, to help explain the many new aspects of living in a foreign country. A further need for many Hong Kong nationals is accommodation. With stories of some living long-term in Airbnb’s, many cannot obtain rentals without work. There are opportunities here for churches and their congregations to see how they could help with housing.
Sharon describes Hong Kong as a painful and bitter place, and she encourages us to be praying for those who are broken hearted by the situation there, as well as for the families who are struggling with division and strained relationships. Let us also pray that the church here in the UK will welcome in the stranger and look to really understand the situation of those they meet.
In Simon Goddard’s article ‘Is your church Hong Kong ready?’ (see below) he includes the video of an event hosted by Krish Kandiah on 28 January 2021 for churches across the UK, helping them to know more about what is happening and how they can respond. At this event the related initiative – enabling churches to sign up to become a ‘Hong Kong Ready Church’ - was launched. More details about this can be found at ukhk.org which was founded by Krish Kandiah alongside Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London. Krish notes that despite these being difficult and unprecedented times during a pandemic, sometimes ‘it’s in the middle of a crisis that we’re able to demonstrate what real faith, real hospitality looks like,’ and as Ellen notes from the personal experience of meeting and welcoming Sharon, ‘the reality of what is happening in Hong Kong is being brought to us’.
Hong Kong Response Co-ordinator Postition
Three years of funding have been secured from the Baptists Together Strategic Mission Budget for a Response Co-ordinator. This person will be responsible for:
liaising with church leaders seeking to leave Hong Kong, connecting them with local Baptist congregations;
encouraging Baptist churches to be places of welcome for migrants from Hong Kong;
networking and enabling training for the migrant ministers and the churches involved in offering welcome.
The closing date for applications is Friday 7 May 2021.
Article: Is your church Hong Kong ready?