Sunday, April 5, 2009

Amazing Grace in Hong Kong

"They came to Philip...
with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."
--John 12:21

The Fifth Sunday of Lent we went to Amazing Grace in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, which has an English - speaking outreach ministry to internationals, particularly Filipinas, women from the Philippines who are popular as domestic workers for affluent families in Hong Kong. These women practically raise the young children of many expatriate and Chinese households, cook & clean; they live right in the same apartment with their employers, and are often only given one day a week off... if that. Many of the women are quite young, a significant portion of them have left their own young children behind in the Philippines, where husbands and grandparents may or may not be taking good care of them. If they have kind employers, they may get two weeks off every other year to go and visit their families.

While many of them feel fortunate to have what are considered good paying jobs that can help pay school bills and raise the living standard of their families back home, these women can find themselves in a very vulnerable situation in the case of a dispute, miscommunication, or, sadly but realistically, physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment by their employers.

The Christian Church is a refuge, a social gathering point, and an opportunity to hear the Good News of God's love for the poor, the lonely, the orphaned, and the foreigners of the land.

The preacher this Sunday was Joseph, one of Wayne's students; the liturgist was Letty, a pastoral leader who came from the Philippines many years ago herself, and so is uniquely prepared to minister in this international gathering. The choir, consisting of seven women and one male guitarist, filled up the small sanctuary so much that Wayne and I kept looking around to see where all the extra voices were coming from. Angels, maybe?

Wayne consecrated the sacraments (I'm still on my sabbatical you know :)and afterwards there was a fabulous supper for all.

While many Lutheran churches forgo flowers during Lent, I saw one of the most gorgeous arrangements I've ever seen, gracing the altar at Amazing Grace. What a good symbol of the vibrant, beautiful women who make up a large part of this worshipping community, and the joy they find in the all-embracing love of Jesus.

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