I’ve never been keen on long-distance running. It’s the inevitable discomfort and pain that happens. Exhaustion arrives. It feels like you’re carrying a gorilla on your back. A voice keeps telling you, “Stop running. Just walk for a little while”. Sure, you can get through that rough patch and experience that brief “runner’s high”, but then the gorilla jumps back on.
Does this sound like the last year in Hong Kong?
We welcomed that “runner’s high”; those nine months when the COVID burden seemed less heavy. We got to have church and other ministries in-person. New people came to church, got connected and people got baptized.
But then the COVID gorilla jumped on our back again. Church, along with school and work, went back online. For many of us, there’s also the extra weight of prolonged separation from family and friends, or saying goodbyes as they emigrate, or the loss of our loved ones; there’s also the loss of income or employment, and the uncertainty over the city’s future.
Building any community is tough when we’re distanced. Since COVID began, we’ve had over 60 weeks of online church. We’re thankful that we can stay connected to one another online, but it’s not the same. It’s harder to care for one another, harder to serve, harder to have deep relationships. We’re better together.
Despite the difficulties, as I reflect on the last year at St Andrew’s, I can’t help but feel grateful. I’m so encouraged by the perseverance of our community, there have been so many examples of sacrificial care and practical love; of people striving for faithful obedience and joyful contentment in God, despite the difficulties of their circumstances.
I’m also reminded of the vital witness of God’s people in our city. COVID has challenged our plans and shaken people’s confidence, but it’s also prompted many to question their assumptions about life. God uses his people to proclaim his gospel to a city that so desperately needs to hear it.
In good and bad times, our vision and purpose remain the same: ‘We are a community devoted to Jesus Christ, who share his gospel, calling on people to follow him, and seek the flourishing of Hong Kong.’ Over the coming year, we ask all those who call St Andrew’s their spiritual home in Hong Kong to prayerfully and faithfully commit themselves to this vision; to use what God has given each of us for his purposes.
Running a race can be difficult, but as we’re reminded, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). In closing, I want to thank the church staff and Council for their faithful perseverance in the last year and all of you who have worked for the cause of the gospel through St Andrew’s.
Extract from the 21/22 Annual Report. You click here to read the full report.