In our midst are an incredibly vulnerable and marginalised community. Many refugees come to Hong Kong for shelter and safety. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence and cannot return home due to a well-founded fear of persecution. They are considered ‘asylum seekers’ until their claim for refugee status has been granted.
According to the UNHCR, in 2019 there were 26 million refugees and 45 million internally displaced persons worldwide. In Hong Kong, there are around 13 thousand protection claimants. The process to gain refugee status can often take years. During that time, claimants cannot work or volunteer, and are forced to rely on government subsidies, normally living under the poverty line.
The government gives $3200 per adult per month for rent, food and transport, making life understandably very trying. The lack of adequate provision is often compounded by the trauma asylum seekers have experienced in their home countries. Within Hong Kong, they are often treated with suspicion.
The Bible gives a clear picture on what a community of grace should look like. God says to his people, ‘Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner’ (Jer. 23:3). Jesus compares caring for the oppressed to caring for him, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in’ (Matt. 25:35). We seek to make a difference by caring for those whom God cares for. We seek to love others because Jesus has shown overwhelming love for us.
How can you be involved?
Firstly, be aware of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in our city. Secondly, prayerfully support them. You can do this through volunteering (as individuals or in your Growth Group). The Christian Action Centre for Refugees will soon be ready to take volunteers. You can also contribute financially either through Christian Action or also through St Andrew’s CARE Fund (we support refugees and asylum seekers at St Andrew’s though this fund). For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com