Dear Friends,

In times when loss and lack may leave us listless, Patrick in Hong Kong exhorts us to keep doing our part faithfully, as we wait upon the Lord, who knows our every need.

A special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong is home to over 7.5 million people (54% irreligious, 28% Buddhist or Taoist, 12% Christian, and 4% Muslim). After 150+ years of British colonial rule following the Opium Wars, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 and maintains its own jurisdiction under the “one country, two systems” policy. Since 2019, over one million Hong Kongers have protested against Beijing’s encroachments on their city’s freedoms. Passed this June in response to the mass demonstrations, a new national security law criminalizes previously protected speech and exempts a new investigative office from local accountability. Under this new law, at least 28 Honger Kongers have been detained so far.

Patrick is pursuing a PhD in New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. For his dissertation, Patrick seeks to contextualize Pauline understandings of sin, salvation, and moral responsibility in response to Chinese cultural emphases on shame and honor.

Patrick shares the following devotional and prayer requests:

Gathering Empty Vessels

In 2012, I was in charge of a nationwide survey, which required me to survey 300+ graduates who had received discipleship training from our organization in the last ten years. I was very stressed at the time because those graduates had already left our institution and were scattered throughout the country. We had already lost contact with some of them. Also, due to various security issues, it was almost impossible to reach them. I thought about giving up many times, but God used this passage to encourage me to trust in Him:

Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” 2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” – 2 Kings 4:1-7 (ESV)

We might experience situations in our life when we lack the resources needed to face challenges, whether they are related to finances, wisdom, knowledge, networking, etc. Perhaps the challenges are so great that it seems impossible to overcome them. This passage reminds us that God is trustworthy and His help can come in very unexpected ways. 

Please pay attention to what the prophet Elisha asks the widow to do: “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.” (v. 3). As she faithfully gathers the empty vessels, the miracle happens. She finds herself pouring unceasing oil into all the vessels. 

Like the widow in this story, we may face challenges in our lives. What we need to do is to remain faithful in our work of gathering empty vessels. It is God’s part to provide us with the oil. 

As Billy Graham once said, “The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.” God’s abundant provision is sufficient for those who sincerely trust Him and obey His commands. In this Christmas season, let’s seek Him first and believe that His grace is sufficient for us. 

Favorite Christmas Traditions

Each year during the Silent Night, our church used to host a gospel event to share the Good News with friends and family. We used to present a musical concert at a shopping mall. Then, as the audience listened, we would talk to them individually and invite them to believe in Jesus. 

Also, we used to have an overnight thanksgiving sharing. Each of us would come to the stage to share how God had blessed our family in the past year. We would enjoy listening to different people’s life stories. 

Due to the pandemic this year, we have had to cancel the gospel concert, and we will need to switch to online sharing.  

Prayer Requests

1. We are experiencing the fourth wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong. Please pray for our government to have wisdom to better control the pandemic, and pray that we could have the vaccine as early as possible. 

2. There has been much political instability in Hong Kong society. Please pray for unity as churches respond. 

3. I have moved back to Hong Kong to continue writing my dissertation. It is quite challenging to write in my home country, especially during this pandemic. Please pray that I can produce good research and finish strong. 

Patrick