Issue 478 Featured Article: Ministry of Life in the Holistic Gospel

Barry CHEUNG, General Secretary

William LAM, Acting Director of Inter-College Team

The Life Crisis

Hong Kong people have been suffering from severe distress since the anti-extradition movement and outbreak of the pandemic. As young people are at the stage of pursuing their ideals and searching for meaning in life, they are confronted with the worsening external pressures, resulting in powerlessness and despair that far exceeds their limits. How can they navigate the uncertainty of the road ahead? We cannot simply claim that the future belongs to young people without understanding their current struggle – how do I move on?

Holistic Care for Life

Hence, it is imperative to address the theme of life here and now. An education system that does not focus on the cultivation of life can only provide empty lectures, and the questions or needs of students are suppressed. Education becomes irrelevant to the experience of life. The deeper issues such as meaning and suffering of life in context are silenced by standardised homework and textbooks. Can the perspective on life that are embedded in Christian faith help with this gap? The Psalmist’s lamentations bring out the affirmation of life for the aggrieved or the depressed, and that their anguished cries and accusations indeed reveal the determination to seek life (and God). Recognition of the source of life as the object of appeal can be transformed into an awareness and hope of life – a strength for life restoration.

Is this not the core message of the Gospel? The hope of life is revived when the cry of life is heard and accepted by God (like the Psalmist or the blind men of the Gospels) , while the concerns of life are seen justly by Him, hope of life are then reignited. The Gospel illuminates and renews all aspects of life. This is where the FES reaffirms the integrality of the Gospel.

The Three Pillars of Ministry under the Holistic Gospel

1. Putting the Word at the Centre. To promote the vision of holistic care, it is fundamental to listen to the Word. Adhering to our tradition of valuing Bible study, we emphasize not just on intellectual equipping, but on engaging with the Bible so that study of the Bible is not confined to gatherings. The Inter-College team has used online platform to create a space for students to meet and share the Word more freely, so that the Word can continue to have a voice in their daily lives and make a lasting impact on their lives. While we envision the Word to be at the centre of our students’ lives, our co-workers must first become faithful listeners of the Word. We are reminded to always listen to the invitation of the Gospel to ourselves and to respond sincerely.

2. Nurturing the community of disciples. Those who are saved by the Gospel of Christ are also called by Christ (Mt 28:19-20). The journey of our vocation begins when all aspects of our lives are open to the Word and we live our lives in presence of the Lord of Life. Students and graduates bear witness to the Gospel and make disciples in their own fields. Meanwhile, through their faith in the Word, they gather over and over again to connect and encourage one another, and to build up the body of Christ – the Church. The discipleship of the FES is therefore not only about enhancing the knowledge of faith intellectually, but also about the encounter of whole person with the Word and being heard and established in community, so that the whole body, mind and soul may grow and bear fruit (John 15:5).

3. Being in the mission of the times. The evangelical tradition understands integral mission primarily in terms of the undividedness of evangelism and social concern, which may not be approached from a holistic perspective of life. The incarnation of Christ, which intervened in a unique situation of life in a specific time and space and thus brought deliverance, reminds us that we must recognise the context of life in its uniqueness and use the Word in our analysis and dialogue in order to respond truthfully and appropriately. Therefore, in caring for the world, there is a need for having ability of theological dialogue and integration, as well as the ability to discern the redemptive purpose of the Lord in His time.

FES received its mission statement for a new era before the Lord three years ago. As the times change, we revisit it to understand the unchanging truth of the Lord’s salvation according to our limited wisdom.

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