Written by: Sarah Hong (Participant of CEDAR’s Exposure Trip 2018)
The world God first-created was in a stable and balanced peaceful condition, which illustrated Shalom. He gave us the responsibility to manage the land. Yet, we failed our task, destroyed the land and its eco-system and caused a lot of problems, such as climate change.
(CEDAR’s note: The writer, Dr Ho Shun Yee, joined CEDAR’s Exposure Trip to the Thai-Myanmar border towns and the northern regions in Thailand at the end of last year. In this article, Dr Ho shares her experience and thoughts about the tour. CEDAR will host another in-depth tour to Bangladesh to visit the poverty-stricken communities. For more information, please visit: http://cedarfund.org/trip/)
In mid-December 2018, more than ten of us from CEDAR arrived at the Thai-Myanmar border – a place that turned out to be quite different from the land of orchids, Thai silk, massages and water fights that most people would have in mind when the place is mentioned. There were cloud-shrouded mountains and singing streams, but what we heard was a song of a thousand sorrows from the border towns. Yet, in a way, it was also a song of hope.
[ ‘SHARE’ Jan-Feb 2014 – Who Is Willing to Be Their Neighbour? ] TAKING ACTION
Author> Wendy FUNG
Thank God for leading me to a number of CEDAR’s events in the past two years. In January 2013, I joined the exposure trip to Ethiopia where I learned and witnessed God’s power; the trip also helped me understand CEDAR’s operation. The impact of CEDAR Carbon Fast during Lent on me is the most apparent; I was invited to be a member of ‘Carbon Fast Army’, assist posting photos on Facebook about Carbon Fast. With the aid of Scriptures prepared by CEDAR, I have gained better understand of the purposes of our daily Fast actions and God’s will at creation. Some of the Fast actions such as waste sorting and bringing my own water bottle/cutlery have become my daily habits.
On a missions trip to Madagascar in 2012, the missionary not only took home leftovers from the table, she also reused plastic boxes after cleansing as the refuse collection system there is inadequate and people just dumped all wastes into big garbage bins on road-sides. Besides doing evangelisation and church planting, I saw the missionary’s effort not to produce waste and perceived her integral love towards the land and inhabitants thereon.
The Philippines was hit by severe Tropical Storm Haiyan that killed thousands and affected over nine million people. It is irrefutable that human activities aggravate extreme climate changes and the frequent natural disasters make the poor’s lives harder, even taking away many precious lives. Isn’t it ironic that we seek to take the gospel to the ends of the world, whilst our lifestyles bring about changes that would reduce the chance of the poor hearing the gospel? I used to question the effect in turning off one lamp on carbon emissions reduction! But if all Christians change our current lifestyles and practise the bible’s teaching, I believe that by the Holy Spirit we can change the world. Living an Integral Mission may sound grand and hard to start, but we may live it out a bit in a day. Let us start today and with God’s help exert influence on people around us doing small things in loving our world. (Watch a clip by Tearfund UK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vph2oLKb1qM)
In January 2013, Wendy joined CEDAR’s exposure trip to Ethiopia; taking part in Carbon Fast and as a member of ‘Carbon Fast Army’ practising and mobilising low carbon living for better environmental protection in February and March; Wendy further joined CEDAR Barefoot Walk in November showing support for impoverished children.
[ ‘SHARE’ Nov-Dec 2013 – Life Impacting Life ] FOCUS ~ INTERVIEW
Over 25 years, Mok has influenced many students
Interviewer> Lam Wai Shan
Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ Making changes may seem easier said than done, but there are bound to be things that you and I can do.
Mok Hing-luen is the Chairperson of CEDAR Club; he was a former frontline social worker and has 25 years of experience in social work education. Set to retire next year, Mok is waiting for God to make clear the way for him.
Mok is one of the founders of CEDAR Club. After seeing pamphlets of CEDAR’s exposure trips in 2002, he joined the next two trips to Cambodia and Bangladesh where he got to know more about world poverty. These two trips also gave him the idea of setting up ‘CEDAR Club’, and since its establishment ten years ago Mok has been meeting regularly with a group of like-minded members.
Whether at work or otherwise, Mok maintains and practises his beliefs, pursues justice and human rights. Whenever there is an imbalance between the ideal and reality, Mok would go hiking to regain that balance.
Hardship – preceding brilliance
Mok has loved hiking since he was young; he gave it up for a while to spend more time on work and family but returned to this hobby in 2001. Now he goes hiking at least once or twice a week, and up to four or five times a week during the summer holidays. Mok takes all necessary precautions although he had a brush with death once, ‘About seven years ago it was raining as I went up Kau Nga Ling; when I reached 400m it became blustery and foggy with heavy rain, greatly reducing visibility. The trail itself wasn’t difficult but the weather made that experience unforgettable.’
Hiking gloves are needed for climbing To Kwun Cliff
In January this year he went for To Kwun Cliff, ‘There is no hiking trail and one can only climb the cliffs. I spent over an hour and still could not climb up, so you can imagine the difficulty. I began to wonder if I should continue but two friends behind me said, “Of course, as you are here now it does not make sense to stop!”’ Eventually Mok prevailed and reached the peak; the breathtaking view was exactly what fascinated him about hiking.
Hiking – rediscovering values
In the realm of nature man is tiny and it is that Mok has more reflections on life’s meaning and values, ‘The beautiful views make me think what it is that we seek in life? We live not only to chase after material things, rather we should cherish and esteem the value and significance of being a human.’ And yet the reality is very different. After being involved with social work half his life, Mok understands this very well.
The view from the mountain is dazzling
‘Social work is people-oriented and has high regard for human dignity, values and basic rights, and also for social justice. However, social work is often market-driven and affected by bureaucracy, and as a result human needs are neglected.’ It is difficult to persist in one’s beliefs when social justice and human rights are abused, but hiking helps Mok rediscover their importance, making up for the discrepancy between reality and the ideal.
In fact, Mok has been mobilising the younger generation to uphold core values, and some results can be seen. People often ask him how he keeps this passion, and his answer is, ‘let life impact life’. Says he ‘I hope to be a role model and impact others. Whatever we do, we need to hold on to our beliefs, otherwise they turn lifeless and die out eventually.’
Retirement – turning a new page
As the second-half of life was about to begin, a ‘warning’ two years ago made Mok stop and reconsider his future. ‘Two years ago I kept falling ill, and that was a sign for me to stop for a moment, take better care of my health, and consider changing jobs.’ He has after all taught in the university for 25 years. After some serious consideration, Mok decided to resign. ‘I am no longer young and also tertiary education is getting more restricted and routine, I do need to change and grow differently. One door must be closed before another can be opened.’
So, what lies behind the other door? Mok says with a smile that recently many people have asked about his retirement plan. ‘There isn’t a concrete plan yet although there are a few basic criteria: Firstly, it won’t be a paid job because not many paid jobs allow for personal freedom. Secondly, it will have direct contact with people such as students or marginalised groups. Thirdly, it will involve participating in reforming local social movements, mobilising students to actively care for our society and bring about changes.’ So it seems that, just as Mok says, his post-retirement life will be even busier than before!
‘Gong sheng’ – experiencing living together
Apart from hiking and education, Mok is also involved in taking his students to Taiwan for ‘gong sheng’ (‘living together’ or communal life) experience. ‘“Gong sheng” has been going on there for over twenty years, where groups of local Christians live together in a self-sufficient and environmentally friendly life; they devise their own education and have created quite a few inspiring songs.’ Those songs and the experience have moved Mok.
Some ‘gong sheng’ Christians from Taiwan sharing in Hong Kong
In the past six years Mok and his students having visited the ‘gong sheng’ community have shared with people in Hong Kong. ‘It is difficult to carry out the Taiwanese model in Hong Kong, so we have adopted a fellowship-style gathering where about a dozen of people meet once a fortnight, mainly to share and bond together, making this a starting point to practise the essence of “gong sheng”.’
Mission – passing the torch
Mok admits that meeting once a fortnight is not truly ‘living together’ sufficiently to bond. Similarly, the occasional sharing held by CEDAR Club hardly helped members grow a sense of belonging. ‘A few years ago we collaborated with Mong Kok Kai Fong Association Ltd. Chan Hing Social Service Centre to visit low income families and through this kind of sustainable participation a sense of belonging was built. However, because of constraints on time and resources, it is difficult to run these programmes sustainably.’
CEDAR Club had visited quite a few low income families
Despite the limitations, we can find our place and mission in life if we are sensitive to God’s leading. Mok has found his mission and is actively practising and promoting it. He encourages his students, ‘Do not overestimate yourselves but do not think of yourselves as useless either.’ He receives and he relays, ‘Man is like a drop in the ocean – our predecessors were here, we received the baton from them, and when we leave, other people will take over.’ Thus is mission passed to the next generation and changes will follow.
Have you found your place and mission in life? We invite you to be a member of CEDAR Club, and through monthly meetings learn about poverty, reflect on life and faith, and care for the poor in practical ways.
[ ‘SHARE’ Nov-Dec 2013 – Life Impacting Life ] TAKING ACTION
Author> Fanny Lee, CEDAR Club Committee Member
After going to the Bangladeshi poverty relief trip in 2003, I often asked myself how I could step out of my comfort zone and be more connected with the world. Surely life is not just about working hard and having fun? What should I do so that I ‘look out not only for my own interests but also for the interests of others’ (Phil. 2:4)?
Also in 2003, some Christians who went to CEDAR’s exposure trips set up ‘CEDAR Club’; they came from different churches but were all willing to use the bible’s teaching as their basis to see the world, learn about poverty relief works and actively care for the world. I am grateful for being a member and through CEDAR Club’s sharing and visits understand more of poverty relief.
It might be understandable that I knew little about poverty in faraway places, but I also had little idea about the weak and marginalized in Hong Kong! So I set out to see for myself the local needs first. Since then, I have followed CEDAR to visit groups such as new immigrant families, street-sleepers, former drug addicts and Choi Yuen Village residents; listening to these people helped me understand more fully their situations thereby reflecting on any injustice in the social system.
Six months ago, Mr. Pong Yat-ming shared on how he worked against the mainstream, and afterwards I researched the topic and discussed with friends, and as a result we grouped to carry out countering actions. It was an unforgettable experience, because I realized that it was simply not enough to merely know about the poor – after knowing in the head and feeling with my heart, I have the urge to share with others, and I feel the drive to do something practical.
Indeed CEDAR Club is a special platform; it helps me start with knowing facts and feelings and then move onto emotional involvement and practical action. I hope more people who care about the poor will join us, starting with understanding and exchanging and then go onto practising and spreading the message of poverty relief!
[ ‘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.