Having just spoken in Toronto for the city-wide conference for the Chinese churches, I received a relevant and touching note from a young man. I won’t disclose his name as it was a private note written to me. I’ll only summarize this note.
He claimed that in the last three days he learned a lot. Having come from Malaysia, he came to know the faith through some Hong Kong immigrants. Yet, in the latest episode on Occupy HK, the church has not even prayed for or shown a stance. The lack of political stance by the church had shaken his faith. He then thanked me for talking about the matter biblically. Hopefully, his faith would be strengthened.
Coming from the context of Malaysia, this note is totally understandable. Malaysian politics are volatile and often anti-Christian. In such a society, the church needs a voice. The same goes for HK, but when one moves to N. America, things change. In Canada, where multiculturalism allows its citizens to speak whatever language they choose (especially in the earlier times), there’s a choice of being concerned for the motherland or not. For many, even though they still live as if they’re from the motherland, they leave much of it behind. Only when troubles happen, they pay attention. Therein lies the problem. They simply can’t respond or choose not to respond.
The church couldn’t and shouldn’t respond to every single issue, but when it comes to oppression of the weak, the church needs to have a stance because it was all over our Bible, whether it is in the teaching in the Gospels or the Law and Prophets. Yet, many Chinese churches fail to or, worse yet, refuse to respond. Not having a stance is still a stance because eventually society could force the church into a choice. The very same goes for any immigrant church, such as a Hispanic church here in the US. Many church leaders know the risk. By spearheading the cause of the disadvantaged, they always run the risk of offending the powerful. The powerful gives offering to the church! At the same time, many of them realize that the funding to help the migrant workers could cause another type of oppression against the diminishing middle class in the US that is having a tough time to make ends meet. These are complex issues in complex times.
I believe our failure to stand politically is the stumbling block of our faith, and perhaps for this young man. Finance seems to be the default or ultimate concern for many churches. Our leaders who either choose the wrong issue (issue having nothing to do with oppression of the weak) or no issue also make a political stance to be apolitical. In some cases, the apolitical stance eventually turns political because certain situations force us to make choices. The problem is whether we side with the powerful or not. When the ultimate concern of the church is about power and money, the church is dead!
So, I want to use this blog to thank this young man who reminds us Christian leaders of our social responsibility because our voicelessness can indeed stumble one of the little ones. I thank this man for calling us to our conscience to engage both scripture and society so that we can affirm the fact that our faith is relevant and our church is compassionate.