COVID-19: Church brings hope amid hardship in Hong Kong

Volunteers at the Eternal Life Lutheran Church in Hong Kong prepare supplies to distribute to local people in need. All Photos: ELCHK

ELCHK volunteers distribute food and medical supplies along with prayer and spiritual support

(LWI) - While largely confined to their homes and limited to online worship, volunteers at a Lutheran church in Hong Kong have also been providing a practical and spiritual lifeline to people suffering from the effects of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Volunteers at the Eternal Life Lutheran Church in Hong Kong prepare supplies to distribute to local people in need

Hong Kong was one of the first countries to respond to the spread of infections in mainland China and introduced early social distancing restrictions during the lunar new year holiday at the end of January.

Having been hard hit by the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), people responded swiftly by staying at home and avoiding all but essential travel and activities. As of 6 April, there were just 4 reported deaths from Coronavirus disease, but the country remained on high alert for a possible second wave of infections.

Shortage of supplies

Rev. Ken Leung is pastor of the Eternal Life congregation, part of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong, located in the midst of one of the city’s poorest communities. When news of the Coronavirus disease first broke, he says, “people panicked and we had a shortage of epidemic prevention supplies and even daily necessities.”

Caption: Rev. Ken Leung, pastor of the Eternal Life Lutheran Church, and a volunteer with supplies of hand sanitizer, masks and other hygiene products ready for distribution

The congregation began collecting supplies for their neighbors in need, including many people who lost their jobs or suffered pay cuts as a consequence of the restrictions. “Every week, as we give out the supplies and food, we never knew if we will have enough to give out the week after,” says Rev Leung. “But thanks be to God, He has been providing for us every single week and we have been able to provide for about 150 families each week.”

Life-changing experience

In one of the homes that the volunteers visited, he continues, there was a man who had lost all hope after losing his job “and was wanting to kill himself when our team knocked on his door. When he saw us with supplies and food, tears of joy came down his face.” The volunteers prayed with the man and comforted him. “Our team was able to witness a life-changing experience as he was willing to seek God and start a new life," Rev Leung explains.

Volunteers at the Eternal Life Lutheran Church are grateful for all contributions to their outreach ministry, including face masks sent by the Lutheran Youth Network in Indonesia

The volunteers are extremely grateful to all who have contributed and enabled them to continue this vital service, including members of the Lutheran Youth Network in Indonesia who sent large packs of hand sanitizer and over 2.200 face masks to Hong Kong at the start of the crisis.

“During a time of epidemics,” says Rev Leung, “it’s easy for us to lose all hope and joy. However, as we are willing to walk in faith, to sow seeds of peace and comfort, we experience the presence of the living Christ. May we look back after the epidemic and see the footprints of Christ with us.”

Volunteers at the Eternal Life Lutheran Church in Hong Kong