Jul 25 2019

Pastor Mike at Aztec Methodist Church

I recently ran across an article about the mass protests in Hong Kong. Large numbers of people turned out to protest a proposed amendment to the territory’s charter that would allow easy extradition to mainland China to face charges there. Technically Hong Kong is a Chinese territory, but because it had a history of 99 years of British rule, the people are used to a system of free expression and courts that operate under a transparent set of rules. When the British returned Hong Kong to the Chinese they had negotiated greater freedoms for the population of Hong Kong than exist in the rest of China. The proposed change was seen as a way of cracking down on dissent, because someone the Chinese government felt was too radical might be whisked into the Chinese legal system and never heard from again.

In June several of the protest marches were huge. The protest organizers claimed as many as 2 million people turned out for one march, when the entire population of Hong Kong is 7.4 million. The police claimed the maximum turnout for the march was “only” 380,000, though they did admit that this was only counted along the authorized parade route and didn’t include people on the side streets that were used by many of the protesters who couldn’t fit on the main road. 

What was amazing was that the protesters adopted as the anthem for their movement a Christian Hymn: “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”. Apparently for one of the early marches a group of Christians were gathered in prayer for the protest and sang a number of hymns. As the protesters passed by they picked up on this hymn, which is short, and repetitive, and has a calming melody. This song was sung for hours on end by huge crowds. Only about 10% of the population in Hong Kong is Christian, yet the huge numbers of protesters sang this hymn of praise to God.

It was used by people as they were facing police lines, and defused some of the tension. Violence still broke out, but was more than once defused by the singing of this hymn. At one protest a sign was seen telling the police, “If you shoot us with rubber bullets, we will Sing Hallelujah to you.” 

Now some of the reasons for using a hymn were cynical. Religious gatherings have much more latitude than political gatherings, so by using the hymn people hoped the government would not be as likely to crack down. One non-Christian woman was quoted as saying “(Governor) Carrie Lam is a Catholic, so maybe she will be swayed by a Christian hymn”.

But Christians from Hong Kong felt it was a miracle that God was praised by such huge numbers of people. They attributed the fact that there was relatively little violence during the marches to the singing of this hymn. In fact what violence there was seemed to be instigated by the police, or by small groups of protesters who remained when the large crowds had dispersed. 

We never know how God will use something we do to reach someone with a message of hope and salvation. The believers who held their prayer vigil had no idea the crowds would pick up on their hymn and lift their voices in praise to the Lord, even as they sought a change in their government’s activity. Who knows how many people will keep singing praises, and maybe even come to know our God through this hymn? God is at work all around us in ways we can only see when we allow the Spirit to open our eyes.

Aztec United Methodist Church

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8:45am   Sunday School
10:00am Worship Service

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Upcoming Sermons

June 30
The Costs of Following Jesus
2 Kings 2:1-14
Luke 9:51-62

July 7
2 Kings 5:1-14
Luke 10:1-20

July 14
Hope Out of Animosity
Amos 7:7-17
Luke 10:25-37

July 21
Faith Lived Out
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:38-42

July 28
Answers to Prayers
Hosea 1:2-10
Luke 11:1-13

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