Ronald LAU, Director of Inter-School Team
“Is there still a need for a student evangelical fellowship?” I ask this question every year. Since the implementation of the new Senior Secondary Curriculum, secondary school fellowships have been shrinking and the attendances have been declining. Moreover, from the perspective of effectiveness, “secondary school fellowship” as a strategy of evangelism seems to have done more harm than good! Is it worth insisting on?
When everything that has nothing to do with examination is marginalized, so are extracurricular activities and evangelistic events. Even if dedicated teachers and students try their best to use morning meetings, lunch gatherings, lunch breaks, Other Learning Experience… for evangelistic events, the content of the gospel is always compressed and simplified to fit in with the compact school life.
However, after this period of time, I discovered that it was simply a wrong question to ask, “Is there still a need for fellowship?” It is because no matter how circumstances change, the gospel must be proclaimed and witnessed. As long as there are Christ-followers, there will be fellowship and the gospel! The question we need to ask is, in what way should the fellowship and the gospel be demonstrated? Have we observed attentively the guidance and work of the Holy Spirit in the community in this new era?
In the past year, we have witnessed that no matter how hard it is, there are people at schools who are committed to authentic fellowship, either physical or virtual, and the key is to be open and honest with each other. In the midst of the epidemic, there are school fellowships that seamlessly run the online Bible studies, and churches conduct online “Weekly Listening meeting” with the tools “Being with Being Listening Card” for young people. Also, some self-motivated secondary students participate the Mission Conference’s Bible study group on Ezekiel… Still, the young people are yearning for an “authentic fellowship” with depth and truth. At the Disciple Summer Exposure (DSE) programme of our Inter-School Team, I saw students commit themselves to members of the underprivileged and gain strength of their faith in the process. Through listening, Bible study and reading, they could unpack their experiences and feelings, and discover a mission-driven fellowship life.
In the past, Hong Kong was filled with a development-oriented and profit-led culture. Nowadays, coupled with the increasingly politicized and labelled campus environment, it turns people to dehumanize themselves and others. Only the Gospel and Fellowship can provide healing. Fellowship with sincerity and words of God has not been lost. We pray that we would guard our humanity, overcome evil with good, and face our struggles with honesty… It is especially valuable to hold on to mutual trust and respect in fellowship, to listen to and forgive one another, and to refuse to simplify people into political symbols! School fellowship is then witnessing the Holy Spirit shaping the body of Christ as a community, as members of one another, in unity and with diversity.
Finally, I am reminded of the frustration that the student committee of the Joint School Fellowship felt around them two years ago, and their desire to bring the theme of “hope” to campus through the disciples’ experience on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24). I could not have imagined that two years later the experience of “Emmaus” has become more truthful. Having experienced the impact of social movement and COVID-19 epidemic, the whole city is suffering from “post-traumatic stress disorder” like the two disciples who left Jerusalem. It was only through a real “fellowship” at the Lord’s table that the disciples’ eyes were “opened”, refusing to run away from reality and embarking powerfully on a mission to return to that suffering and glorious Jerusalem.
Hong Kong has developed into a completely unfamiliar pattern. Fellowship is more important on today’s campus than ever before. We do not have an “effective” campus evangelistic strategy, but I believe we still have sincere companions who are walking with us to guard the Fellowship, Evangelical, Students on campus.