Hong Kong (MNN) – China covers freedom of religion in its constitution with an important caveat: the government protects what it calls “normal religious activity”. The issue is how those who enforce that stipulation read and understand the policy and its intent.
Add the layer of politics with Hong Kong and things can get very complex. In 1997, when the United Kingdom ceded Hong Kong back to China under the 50-year hand-over agreement , China promised to keep things to a “one country, two system” arrangement.
It meant that under the city’s mini-constitution, the city would continue to enjoy a high degree of autonomy with its own legal system, multiple political parties, and freedom of speech. However, China’s influence pressures that arrangement and given what’s been happening to Christians lately on the mainland, it feels like a window of opportunity may be closing. Mission Cry’s Executive Director Jason Woolford says that’s why they’re acting now. “We read that the Chinese government is saying ‘no’ to the Gospel, they’re trying to close churches, and they are closing churches, they’re trying to destroy any literature in some approved stores that were allowed to sell the Bible.”
Window of opportunity
Right now, though, they can still help ministries in Hong Kong. “We have favor there with a business that can get these containers in, and then we have people on the ground that can get them distributed, both into Hong Kong, but also into other areas that some can’t.”
The potential impact is overwhelming when you consider the population of Hong Kong. “I know that we have 7.5 million people in Hong Kong and 13-percent of that population professes to be Christian, but a majority of the rest of the people are of a different religion.”
With this partner in Hong Kong, Woolford says, “There are 22-thousand people who have access now to a free Bible and those have already been distributed.” Plans are already in place to send two more sea containers full of resources this year.
How does this work? Most people in North America have more than one Bible and probably multiple Bible study materials, seminary materials or other Christian books sitting unused on their bookshelves. Once they send those materials to Mission Cry, the ministry team packs them for shipping, loads the sea container and sends them around the world to partners who will distribute them.
Folks who are encountering this ministry for the first time ask questions like this: “When you think about sending a Bible to 22-thousand people, does that even have an impact? Does it even make a difference?”
Woolford says it makes a difference to everyone who encounters God’s Word, and shared this story. “I think of the story of John Newton, who penned ‘Amazing Grace’. One guy, sitting on a boat, reading a Christian book, a testimony about another man, decides to give his life to the Lord and pens the most famous hymn of all time.” People also ask about the resources being in English. For all of the partners they send containers to around the world, recipients can read English.
Mission Cry takes resource donations, but the sea containers also cost a lot of money to send—many of them over $12,000. Woolford also reminds us that what they’re doing is helping to change culture and engaging in spiritual warfare.
“While sending clothes or food or anything else are important things, at the end of the day, those things return void, but the Word of God doesn’t. On top of it, we’re sending the Word of God that was going to be thrown out or just sitting on peoples’ shelves, so it has that much more impact. Therefore, the devil hates it.”
To that end, “Be praying for protection over the ministry and then (for) those that are distributing the Word of God for us; and then (be) praying for a way to get involved with the ministry, whether that be volunteering your time, picking up books, praying or giving financially.”
Header photo courtesy of Neerav Bhatt via Flickr