[ ‘SHARE’ Sept-Oct 2013 – Myanmar – A Beam after the War Flame ] TAKING ACTION
Author: Simon TAM, banker
Since 2010, I joined CEDAR’s ‘Walk in Love – Visit Low-Income Families Programme’ and with a partner regularly visited two new immigrant households; we cared about their situations and gradually friendships were built. They trusted us and shared their thoughts and feelings with us, and they often made soups to share with us.
One of the women we visited had arrived in Hong Kong three years ago but rarely went out. We took her to view the Christmas decorations and for dinner at a fast-food restaurant; it was rewarding to see her enjoying the evening with us. She once lost our phone number and after intensive efforts she finally reached us. She anxiously told us how we were the only friends she had in Hong Kong and losing our number was like losing a friend. We were very touched realising how much we meant to her.
We also visited a single-parent mother with two children, on social welfare and living in a partitioned room. We supported her through listening to her and praying together. Once, we took the family to a local restaurant to celebrate a birthday – their simple enjoyment gave us much joy. The mother also called us when she encountered problems and we would encourage and pray with her.
Over three years of visits we worked hard to practise Jesus’ teaching that when we did to one of the least of the brethren, we did it to Him.
When I shared my experience with friends, some said they would rather give a donation than paying visits to these families. Although low-income families are poor and need the government and society’s material assistance, they also need care, companionship and dignity. My low-income friends may not be educated or eloquent, but they have a simplicity that surpasses that of many upright persons amongst us.
CEDAR’s Programme has ended but we continue to visit them as friends. The wealth-gap in Hong Kong is widening, and we Christians have a duty to help and care for marginalised groups to show Christ’s love.
‘To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ is not just an empty talk but a practice throughout life.
[ ‘SHARE’ Sept-Oct 2013 – Myanmar – A Beam after the War Flame ] CEDAR’S BLOGGER
The 6.5 foot tall sculpture ‘Survival of the Fattest’ by Jens Galschiøt (who also made the Pillar of Shame) and Lars Calmar was exhibited in Hong Kong during the anti-WTO protest in 2003.
Author: Fountain CHIK, Programme Officer
I encountered the sculpture in 2003 and read its inscription: ‘I’m sitting on the back of a man. He is sinking under the burden. I would do anything to help him, except stepping down from his back.’ It has embedded in my mind and I have recalled it often.
Since 2006, either from a distance or close up, I started caring about CEDAR’s concerns. The skinny figure surged my mind as I met with the survivors of the Sri Lanka tsunami, the Hmong people of North Thailand who hold no identity, the impoverished farmers of Hubei, and the Bangladeshi slum dwellers. The figure shoulders a heavy burden, and although his back is straight, the load’s weight forces his head to be lowered.
The fat woman above him is blind to their dangerous situation: she is over-weight even to the point of threatening her own health; her ‘foundation’ is not steady either – top-heavy and fragile like hitting an egg against the wall; both seem to be in danger.
He is stressed, so is the fat woman; their fates are intertwined and tangled. The fat woman is hijacking the skinny man and both are at a dead end.
O Lord who daily bears our burdens  , You bore the sins of mankind but Your yoke is easy. You teach by word and deed and show the world a new way: ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ 
How we wish the fat woman would step down and share with the skinny man the scales of justice in her hand, and walk humbly together with God on a new path.
Fountain went on CEDAR’s Sri Lanka exposure trip in 2006, was with a Hmong tribal village in North Thailand on a two-month seminary practicum in 2010. He joined CEDAR in March 2012.
In His earthly days Jesus the Word became flesh and travelled through towns and villages; with love, grace and truth He preached the good news of the heavenly kingdom, healed the sick and had compassion on the lonely and despondent. As Christ’s disciples, we also ought to read both the bible and the newspaper (quoting John Stott), so that while we seek to understand the Truth we may also keep our eyes open to the world’s needs.
Over the past few years CEDAR has sought to facilitate ‘show and tell’ where, through practice and participation, believers reflect on the question of ‘walking with the poor’ and learn about ‘words become flesh’. In this issue of Voice some students and believers who joined our ‘show and tell’ events tell us how each experience has sown a seed that has brought changes to their lives.
We do not have one single poverty relief formula for dealing with impoverishment and disasters. CEDAR staff Lawton believes that help for the poor may be more appropriate if development projects are modified according to each individual community’s unique situation.
A concern for the poor begins with a compassionate heart, and walking with the poor requires a lifetime of learning and practising.
Interviewer> Wu Ying Lun, Education and Promotion Officer (mainly in youth education)
‘True education is to learn how to think, not what to think.’ 
For four years CEDAR has been mobilising young believers to participate in experiential events to care about the poor and respond to integral mission. Here, five participants tell us how the activities change their understanding of poverty and their faith.
I want to be a social worker
Form 6 students Ming and Grace both have chosen social work to study at university and hope to minister to the elderly or delinquents one day. Ming and Grace had visited elderly homes, joined local ‘service learning projects’, and gone on a school trip to Cambodia, all of which prepared them for future social work.
Eighteen months ago CEDAR and C.C.C. Heep Woh College jointly organised a service learning project where higher-secondary students get to know HK’s ethnic minorities cultures through home-visits, workshops and services. Ming and Grace now understand more what the South Asian communities face, especially the difficulties the children have in schooling and job-hunting.
Grace says, ‘We study Chinese from an early age and still find the examinations difficult; how much more would ethnic minority groups struggle? Since giving homework tutorials I realistically see their difficulties. Education is supposed to move people upward, but the unfavourable education system makes that virtually impossible.’
Ming says, ‘We hear news about troublesome South Asian youths, but now I realise that the examination system is too harsh for them and will eliminate them. I took no notice of this people group before but now I listen to news concerning them, such as Indonesian domestic helper being forced by employer to eat pork or not allowed to pray; these are conflicts from cultural differences.’
Another kind of cultural difference showed Grace a different ideal and learning goal, ‘A Pakistani girl told me she wanted to become the President to improve her countrymen’s lives with knowledge. Hong Kong people study for themselves only and always complain when studying gets tough.’
Ming (far right) now believes making money is not most important
The gospel needs to be contextualised
Amy joined CEDAR’s exposure trip to Indian slums, and through CEDAR Club she met marginalised groups such as Chinese new immigrant women and teenage drug addicts; she also visited a homeless person two years after he was allocated housing.
‘It was a partitioned room with blood stains of smashed woodlice on the walls. Every time I went I wanted to leave immediately.’ Amy had been bitten by woodlice and even found traces of them at her home.
Once, some church friends were also visiting with small gifts in a recycled bag that had bible verses printed on it. ‘I saw a strong contrast between the gospel they were trying to convey and the homeless person’s situation. The gospel needs to be contextualised, but the middle-class churches’ message is disconnected with needs at grass-root level.’
Gospel contextualisation does not only point out that evangelism does not stop at giving money to the poor but is also mindful of how unfair social structure abuses the poor. Theological worker Fung Wai Man puts it, ‘If we do not realise that people are abused by evil, we do not have the capacity to be compassionate. An evangelistic ministry that lacks the concept of “sinned against” is merely a promotional event without compassion.’ 
A prophetic vision to see the nature of sin is also necessary to make that mercy complete. ‘I used to feel that drug addicts only had themselves to blame for all their miseries, but home-visits help me see the social construction factor; now I have more compassion for them and have changed my perceptions, for example, only a minority cheat on social welfare, and the new immigrants are not even eligible for benefits.’ 
Amy takes action against the system’s unfairness. She wrote to the government supporting minimum wage legislation to combat labour exploitation; she joined a civic welfare group to learn about the administration’s population policy’s unfairness and discrimination against new women immigrants. Amy also wrote to her church leaders calling for a greater concern for faith-related issues such as poverty and environmental protection. ‘God gives each person different issues of concern – I don’t know how to care for people individually and I am not passionate about evangelism, but I can love and serve people, particularly the poor, through advocacy.’
Amy disagrees that this ‘upward’ advocacy is ineffective although visible results take time. ‘I wrote to the church a few years ago and now I notice changes happening. This year the church set up a three-year plan to gradually reach out to our community.’
Amy urges churches to construct theology in a ‘poor people’ environment
Leaders need to reflect deeply on the contents of the gospel of Jesus Christ
Church ‘community care group’ leaders William and Choh see many obstacles in mobilising the church to care for society.
Eighteen months ago their reading group wanted to know more about the needs of the after reading Evangelism Revisited . Lacking the relevant network and experience, William and Choh contacted CEDAR. After visiting grass-root families, midnight markets and single mothers, William and Choh became organisers to mobilise church members to care for the community.
Paul focuses on how social policy affects grass-root families, holds art exhibitions on grass-root life
Group members are now more aware of the grass-root children’s needs; Choh recalls, ‘An ADHD child of a welfare-supported family has many study needs. What would his future be like if neither the government nor the church lends help?’ Collaborating with the frontline organisation that arranged the visit, their church premises are now used to hold tutorials and organise workshops for grass-root women.
Choh thinks the collaboration is a good start in raising members’ awareness, but mobilising the pastoral leaders is proving more difficult. ‘Our group is like a secret organisation: although pastors know about our work, they are not interested in joining us; we cannot openly promote our work, invitations go out only through our network.’ Lack of pastoral affirmation and support makes it very difficult to mobilise the whole church as many Christians affirm.
Whether or not a church supports her members depends on her stance on the gospel. Choh points out, ‘Actually, there has always been community work such as homework tuition, but the church expects people being brought into church; therefore services not including (hard sell) evangelism are unlikely to receive support.’
William says, ‘My personal calling is to integrate Christianity and public issues; stories of the poor challenge me to think how the gospel can respond to their predicaments.’ William and Choh hope that when a small group of church members persist in doing small things, just like the ‘five loaves and two fish’ miracle and the recent ‘equal sharing movement’ initiated locally, the gospel will be made relevant to the poor.
Each person’s calling
Interviewees above may play a different role in community care, but as they encounter the poor, they find their own calling, whether it be advocacy, education promotion or frontline ministry. People seeking and fulfilling their calling learn to replace people-labelling with appreciation of a foreign culture and discovery of their own strengths and aspirations. While results may not be immediate, at least their own hearts, thoughts and worldviews have undergone change.
Recommended reading: Breakazine!, Evangelism Revisited and The Poor- My Neighbour? [Chinese books]
Contact CEDAR to organise local visits and learn about pre-visit preparation
 Jiddu Krishnamurti  Fung Wai Man Raymond, Evangelism Revisited，Chinese book published by FES (HK) Ltd., July 2010, see p.18  According to the survey report issued by Oxfam Hong Kong on 26 March 2009, new immigrants represented only 5.8% of the total welfare applications during that period, and only 0.3% of the 960 cases of welfare abuse.  Fung Wai Man Raymond, Evangelism Revisited，Chinese book published by FES (HK) Ltd., July 2010.
[ ‘SHARE’ Jul-Aug 2013 – Burying Seeds ] STEP INTO THE WORLD
The 2013 Yaan Earthquake destroyed the area’s infrastructure and traumatised hundreds of victims. In May, CEDAR’s China Project staff visited them in the Shuangshi Township of Lushan County and noticed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms such as insomnia, angry outbursts and irritability.
Shuangshi Township is a remote hilly district which lags behind in economic growth; the young work in the cities leaving behind the aged, women and children. Lacking medical care, the elderly constantly worry about their health. The women are uneducated and without community support, looking after their children is a lonely and arduous task. The earthquake further caused psychological traumas, so the villagers badly need care and counselling.
Granted funding by the HKSAR Government’s Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee, CEDAR has started the second phase of relief resources distribution. The later reconstruction stage aims to help PTSD sufferers by providing psychological and community support through referrals and counselling, community aid and support groups, and community education events.
 CEDAR is an approved charitable institutions and trusts of a public character under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Please click Inland Revenue Department website to check for details.  Donations over $100 are tax deductible in Hong Kong with our receipts.  Please DO NOT fax any donation information.
Tel>23819627 Fax>23922777 Email>email@example.com Add>G.P.O. Box 3212Hong Kong
Author> Ho Man Leung, Lawton, Assistant to Chief Executive
I joined CEDAR five years ago after graduating from theological school in 2008.
Actually, CEDAR was not a stranger to me. In the 1990s while I was working as a lawyer I began receiving CEDAR’s newsletters and got to know this Christian poverty relief agency – not a large scale one but actively doing meaningful ministry! I recall years ago the severe winter in Qinghai killed a large number of livestock, and responding to CEDAR’s call for help I and my then young daughters donated towards buying some yaks for the local farmers. This was both an expression of our loving care for the victims and my way to set an example for my children!
Since I started working at CEDAR, I got to know the organisation’s work and ethos better. I discovered that many development concepts are behind the poverty relief works. For example, the sustainability of a project means that we need to help the poor in such a way that ultimately they become self-sufficient. However, locations differ in circumstances, economy, culture, environment, communication and government policy, and these may prevent a project from achieving its goal and in the end some needs are unmet. Should a poverty relief project be stopped because it fails to meet a target or should adjustments be made according to regional factors? Obviously the latter will bring more appropriate help to the poor!
Under good governance, it would be proper to follow set standards and systems, and projects that fail to meet targets should be terminated. We see in the news how government departments also determine whether matters are handled correctly according to procedural proper. In a grand system such as one operated in the government, ‘procedural proper’ may be an appropriate standard, but on second thought I feel that there is insufficiency in ‘procedural proper’. Procedures are set to handle matters better with the hope of meeting targets. If the system is faulty, then even strict adherence to it will not lead to expected results. Some flexibility that is aimed towards the target will prevent confusing means with ends!
Directors and staff at CEDAR also pay attention to the requirements of good governance. Let us always have the presence of the Lord’s Spirit, to maintain the standards of good governance and live out our God-given vision and mission in our ministry!