From Hong Kong to the Philippines // 從香港到菲律賓
從香港到菲律賓 – 體驗兩地和兩代的愛 / From Hong Kong to the Philippines – Experiencing the love between two places and two generations
出發當天，班機延誤了，兩位當地教會「Cathedral of Praise」(COP)的牧師就在馬尼拉機場等候了我們一個多小時。晚上十時半，我們終於抵達，一出閘便看見他倆以非常親切的笑容迎接我們八個從香港而來的小伙子，替我們搬行李，載我們到住宿的地方。那場景，就像見到久違了的家人一般。
抵達次日，那位牧師帶了我們到黎剎公園，一片很闊、很開揚的草地。我們一邊行一邊問神我們要怎樣祈禱，直至我們看見兩個紀念碑：紀念1977年葛培理佈道大會(Billy Grahm Crusade)和2006年葛福臨佈道大會(Franklin Grahm Festival)。上面寫著，兩次佈道會均有數以萬計的人回應接受耶穌基督成為個人救主，並願意將生命交給神。我們又走到公園的中央，有一個菲律賓人物雕像，牌上記述了他的故事—-一個在十七世紀前赴日本宣教並殉道的故事。這個神大大作工、大大得著榮耀的地方，卻成了流人血的地方，使「愛」從兩地之間溜走。我們深深感受到要在那處認罪禱告，並要宣告復和、宣告復還這地方人民的喜樂、宣告復還神的榮耀，甚至是比先前更大的榮耀。
神感動他們帶我們去一個收費式兒童遊樂場。那裡十分熱鬧，從年幼到年長的人都有，我們分開小隊，向不同人送上笑容、擁抱、聖誕咭、小禮物，說聲「我愛你」、「神祝福你」，說聲 「Maligayang Pasko」(菲律賓語的「聖誕快樂」)。期間遇見一採訪隊，該記者表示他們正正就是在採訪關於人質事件，所以想訪問我們。我們心想：怎會有人走到兒童遊樂場採訪關於人質事件？不過深知道在神的手裡並沒有「湊巧」。我們致電給香港和COP的牧者，整個團隊同心禱告，彼此引證後便接受採訪。我們並不知道這個採訪將會帶來怎樣的影響，但深信只要我們將神所交附的一小塊拼圖砌好，神就會使萬事都互相效力，叫愛神的人得益處。
After the 823 hostage incident, there was a Facebook page called “Hong Kong love! We still love Filipinos!”. Thousands of Filipinos joined to express their gratitude; the following Sunday, over twenty youngsters gave out greeting cards in Central, showing their love to the Filipinos who resided in Hong Kong. This action became a piece of national news in the Philippines, touching many people’s hearts. Through the step-by-step guidance by God, not only simple blessings were brought from Hong Kong to the Philippines but also us – a group of eight young people from different churches and different schools…
November 2010, we tried to book air tickets through a travel agency:
“Excuse me, I want to book tickets to Manila on December 19th and returning on the 24th for about ten passengers.”
“Flights are really full on these dates! And please be aware of the black travel warning that is still currently placed on Manila!”
“Yah… I know. Thank you.”
We knew that there was a warning, there were risks, but we also knew more clearly that what was inside us was bigger than the black travel warning!
Departure : Returning Home
On the day of departure, the flight was delayed. Two pastors from the Filipino church “Cathedral of Praise” (COP) waited for us at the airport in Manila for more than an hour. At 10:30pm, we finally arrived. Once we went into the arrival hall, we saw their very warm smiles welcoming the eight of us from Hong Kong. They helped us with our luggage and drove us to where we were staying. That scene almost seemed like a reunion of long lost family members.
Many people of our generation were brought up by Filipino maids; you or your children included? At gatherings with the local young people, some of them mentioned that their mothers were working in Hong Kong. I asked one of the sisters, “How long has your mom been working in Hong Kong?” “12 years. We only see each other once a year during the Christmas holiday.” She is 23 this year.
The Philippines has always been very close to us. After the 823 hostage incident, some people fired their Filipino maids and some accused the Filipino maids who gathered in Central. Was it really necessary to draw such a line of division? Ironically, while the busy Hong Kong people were slowly forgetting this incident, there were some pastors in the Philippines, Manila police or some local residents who said with a very heavy heart “sorry” to us, hoping that we could overcome the pain. While we demanded for an account and an apology from the Philippines, God was providing our pastor and the whole group with a revelation: we had been “taken for granted” a blessing from the Philippines for many years; maybe it was time to reflect on our pride and humbly say to our family “thank you” and “I love you.”
Perhaps the visit with the least planning ever
Before we departed, there was nothing on our agenda for this 6-day trip except for the morning: breakfast, worship and prayer. Our only preparation was the Christmas cards and little gifts to be given out when we get there. We also hoped to pray at the Rizal Park (where the 823 hostage incident took place). Through the connection and communication by the pastors, a pastor at the COP understood that we really want to express our love and reconciliation, so he thoughtfully gave us various suggestions. In the end, we witnessed how God had personally prepared for us every single detail of our entire agenda.
The day after our arrival, that pastor took us to the Rizal Park, which was a very wide and very open lawn. While we walked, we kept asking God how He wanted us to pray until we saw two monuments: in honor of Billy Grahm Crusade 1977 and Franklin Grahm Festival 2006. The monuments recorded that there were tens of thousands of people who responded and accepted Jesus as their savior and were wiling to give their lives to God at each of the festivals. We walked to the middle of the park. There was a statute of a Filipino and the sign below it described his story – a story about someone who went to preach in Japan and was martyred in the 17th century. This land, where God had done great work and was greatly glorified, became a land where people have shed blood, causing “love” between the two lands to slip away. We deeply felt that we needed to confess and pray at the place of the incident and announce reconciliation, announce the restoration of joy to the people of this land, and announce the restoration of God’s glory, which became greater than it was before!
The pastor also brought us to the COP university students’ Christmas party. Because of us, they purposely used English as the language of communication for the entire party. Even when we were struggling to remember their names, we were already so touched by their love and warmth. As we were not familiar with directions in this foreign city, they often joined us during our visit and we all became one, as if we were experiencing His “miracles” as one single unit.
God guided them to bring us to a paid playground. It was very lively there. There were many people, from kids to the elderly. We split up into small groups, giving different people smiles, hugs, Christmas cards, little gifts, “I love you,” “God bless you,” and “Maligayang Pasko” (which is “Merry Christmas in Filipino). During this, we met a team of reporters. One of them told us that they were just reporting about the hostage incident so they wanted to interview us. We thought: why would someone interview about the hostage incident in a playground? But we knew that this was no coincidence in God’s hands. We phoned Hong Kong and the pastors at COP and prayed as a team, sharing our testimony before we accepted the interview. We did not know what effect would this interview bring but we believed that as long as we put the little piece of jigsaw puzzle that God has given us in the right place, God would then cause everything to work together, benefiting the people who loved God.
We followed different pastors and a different group of young people every day, participating in the servicing at churches, visiting families, giving out little gifts at residential areas, shops and restaurants, praying for them, joined the policemen at the Manila police headquarter for a bible study etc. These all made us realize one thing: God brought us to this country, not for the purpose of asking us to “generously” bring love and forgiveness here. The truth was, from everyone whom each of us had encountered, even the passengers on Jeepney (a very common local public transportation), we learned more clearly what was love.
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
Long before we departed, God had already let us experience His love. During this visit, from preparation to departure, from departure to our return, there were many members of the previous generation who were willing to work towards fulfilling our dreams, including our parents and the pastors: to remind us, to help us, to share the burden with us and even to underwrite for us. We had once arrogantly treated their worries and reminders as a blockage from the previous generation to our first confident step forward. We were grateful that God had not let us self-centeredly rush forward into the unknown. He taught us to redirect our rebellious hearts back to our parents. The result was that before we departed, we could honestly share our feelings, confess and pray and share the latest news and needs every day during our visit, so to let us have a strong and powerful shelter in our parents. We thank God for letting us experience the love and unity between two generations and we thank God for always looking out for us! May all glory belong to our Father God!