[ ‘SHARE’ Jan-Feb 2013 – Green Notes Or Green Life? ] FOCUS: TOPICAL INTERVIEW
Last year Vince worked as a volunteer at a wetland forest in Vietnam.
Reporter> WU Ying Lun
In recent years conservation and development has become a hot topic locally, but other countries are also facing similar struggles and challenges. Dickson Wong, Vince Cheung and Samuel Chiu, three Christian conservationists, tell us about different countries’ stance on development and the church’s involvement.
The setting up of farmers’ cooperatives in Gansu last year was an important achievement of our ministry in China. The transformation of farmers from being voiceless and helpless to participating actively, and even initiating organisation, is one main indicator of community development. In Sichuan, we have contacted many churches serving the communities actively. In Yunnan, we also have developed close partnership with the Yunnan Provincial Christian Council and been mobilising and supporting local churches to be concerned with responses to their community needs. We are happy to see that local churches are willing to go out and serve their communities and the achievement they got in past few years.
Prospect in the Coming Year
Hubei was the first province where we started community development in China with the most experienced team. Last year, our Hubei team started an organic farm project run as social enterprise. This year, they have just started a new project on labour empowerment, aiming to build up the awareness of labour rights and supporting network among villagers who are going to leave their homeland for work.
CEDAR has been implementing development projects in China over ten years. It is time for us to gather past experience on project implementation, church mobilization, community development and to put these experiences together to develop a set of teaching materials to strengthen church education and training works in Sichuan and Yunnan as well as to support local churches to better respond to needs of impoverished communities by walking with the poor and disadvantaged.
Pui Si’s Sharing
‘China is changing. Two decades ago, she was still one of the main countries helped by the international society. But now she has developed as an economic giant and has accumulated rich knowledge and experience in the field of poverty alleviation. Even though there are still many poverty issues have yet to be settled in China, I believe it is time to conclude the community development work in China and share the experience on alleviating poverty with other resource poor nations.’
After the exposure monitoring trips and discussions in the past two years, according to a series of measurement, such as the human development index (HDI), Gini coefficient, political and social stability, uniqueness and the possibility of monitoring project, we have finally chosen Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, India, Nepal, Myanmar and China to be the focus countries for our projects.
IM Forum was set up in Nov 2011. Since then, the Forum have networked over 50 pastors, co-workers and Christians from churches, Christian organisations, seminaries and social enterprises, to explore ways to practise integral mission that link theology and churches, business and community service.
50 more leaders from churches, Christian organisations, seminaries and social enterprises joined IM Forum
Learning and Prospect
We are happy with the business network that had been developed as part of their strategy. In 2012-2013, IM Forum will focus on mobilising frontline Christian organisations and seminaries to explore how Christian organisations and churches can practise integral mission in the community to provide solid theological support to these frontline ministries.
In addition, we will put together the experiences of churches and Christian organisations from Hong Kong, Mainland China and overseas to produce materials as tools, teaching and references to provide Hong Kong and Mainland China’s churches to use; and help to develop networks and partnership between different churches, Christian organisations and groups as a way to build the Body of Christ to engage in the global ministry on mission for the poor.
After the exposure monitoring trips and discussions in the past two years, we have finally chosen Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, India, Nepal, Myanmar and China to be the focus countries for our projects. We have since strengthened our partnership in these focus countries through cooperation and communication to promote our mutual capability on project operation and management to provide more appropriate and effective assistance to impoverished communities.
In recent years, the Chinese and Nepalese governments have loosened official restrictions on local Christian churches. In addition to reforms in the political process in Myanmar, there is a new turning point for the growth of Christian relief and development work in these countries. CEDAR hopes to seize this opportunity to seek furthering the cooperation of Hong Kong churches with overseas churches and Christian organisations. Project sites in the above six focus countries will become important platforms for Hong Kong churches to participate in appropriate response to global ministry in the practice of integral mission. Hong Kong churches can provide strong support in human and financial resources to these overseas partners engaged in frontline ministries. This way we can develop the partnership between different nations, regions, churches and organisations in better synergy.
As a member organisation of the Hong Kong Church Network for the Poor (the HKCNP), CEDAR will endeavor to mobilise local churches to work with frontline organisations, social enterprises and government, facilitating the development of district network for social concern among churches. We look forward to churches becoming the real neighbour to the poor, giving them timely, suitable and holistic care and assistance.