|Unreserved Dedication to God–HKBTS Volunteer Team|
Over the past twelve months or so, Hong Kong has experienced unprecedented challenges. At this moment, as I am working on this article, the "fourth wave" of COVID-19 is hitting Hong Kong. Without any slackening, we are taking every preventative action to battle the pandemic. During such a period of hardships, the Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary (HKBTS) remains steadfast in its loyalty to the duties God entrusted to it by embracing the challenges in adversities and doing its utmost to do what is right in the sight of God.
Campus Extension and HKBTS Volunteer Team
Following the patterns of a life cycle and the seasons of growth, the seminary entered a stage of redeployment of human resources a few years ago. We prayed to God to bring in additional and suitable members to our team so that we might make a concerted effort to propel the growth of the seminary. Amazingly, upon the finalization of the Extension Project of the Sai O Campus (Phase 3) by the Board of Directors in early 2016, God injected new dynamic power into the seminary by guiding a group of brothers and sisters to join the extension and building works of HKBTS on a voluntary basis. They are a team of colleagues who have been longing to participate in God's work. They formed the Building Committee to assist the administrative staff of the seminary to deal with matters concerning land lease modifications, contract tendering and works supervision. Committee members include Deacon Cecil Chan (Chairman), Deacon John Pak, Deacon Thomas Tsang, Deacon Samuel Chan, Mr. Sam Chan and Dr. Joseph Kwan. In the capacity of the seminary's President, I also joined the Committee, witnessing the good examples they had set about serving the Lord laboriously and zealously. Without exception, meetings were always conducted in a pleasant atmosphere, and all those present enjoyed the exchange of ideas and interaction at the meeting table. During the whole process, there was neither argument nor waste of time and energy; everyone was giving all they had for the benefit of the seminary and the future prospect of theological education. Wonderfully, everyone has experienced fellowship and unity in their hard work, appreciating and complementing one another while discerning God's will together. "This is the ideal church in miniature," I thought.
Green Campus and HKBTS Volunteer Team
When the campus extension project entered the stage of floor plan design, the Building Committee suggested allowing users to voice their opinions on the design and planning of the new building. During the collection of opinions from different parties in the seminary, there were voices urging for concern for environmental protection. From the perspective of practicing faith, we considered the importance of environmental conservation and caring for nature, hence setting up another working group in June 2018 – the Campus Environmental Consultation and Development Committee, which was responsible for the study of and planning of matters involving energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, as well as campus greening. Besides including me as the ex-officio member, we also invited a group of experts in environmental protection from the Baptists to join the committee. These experts include Deacon Ho Kin-chung (Chairman), Mr. Edward Lam, Deacon Cecil Chan, Mr. Steve Wong and Mr. Andy Ho. They all worked and pulled together in their team work, contributing their own expertise, which ultimately turned HKBTS into the first theological seminary in Hong Kong installed with a solar panel power generating system. Such a move could well be described as the practice of "Ecological Theology," which not only allows the full utilization of the rooftop space for the generation of renewable energy through the use of natural resources, but also promotes environmental protection education among our students, churches and even in society.
Drainage Issue and HKBTS Volunteer Team
When the seminary commenced its campus extension works, our Sai O Campus was confronted with another daunting external challenge in early August 2018. One of the issues that gravely concerned us was the government's plan to build a major sewage pumping station just 5 meters from our campus. We summoned the members of the Campus Environmental Consultation and Development Committee and the Building Committee for a joint meeting. During the meeting, the members unanimously agreed that given the close proximity of the proposed site of the sewage pumping station, the foul smell caused would surely lead to air pollution impact on the teachers, students and staff living or working on the campus. Worse still, the consequence would be inconceivable in case of any sewage leakage. What was more, the proposed pumping station was to be located adjacent to Nai Chung Pebble Beach. The beauty of the surroundings makes the place a popular destination for holidaymakers in Hong Kong. The site is also a good habitat for various species. Besides, close to Nai Chung Pebble Beach is the nature reserve at Starfish Bay; Nai Chung Coast is also a "Site of Special Scientific Interest"; the whole area covers the ecological environment of mudflats, beaches and rocky coasts, which is rich in biological diversity. It has long been recognized as a site with ecological value with its important natural resources and great educational and scientific values. Once the environment is destroyed, it will deal a fatal blow to this web of ecological systems, which will be irreversible.
Meanwhile, with the impending commencement of the new school term in 2018, I had to attend various preparatory camps and meetings. However, the commencement work of the Building Committee and Campus Environmental Consultation and Development Committee was in full gear. Beyond our expectation, the committee members were all willing to come to the seminary for meetings at 7:30 a.m. During the meetings, they did not show any sign of reluctance. Nor did they find the meetings hard labor. Instead, they were all joyful and pleased. One of the deacons even said, "We all rise early to come to worship God and enjoy fellowship here!" Every meeting was conducted with dedicated minds and efforts. Despite the fact that these members were all qualified leaders from different churches well-equipped with knowledge in the building and works sectors, each of them was willing to esteem others better than themselves, listening to others' opinions in lowliness of mind and always putting the benefits of the seminary and the churches in the first place. I was deeply touched by this. Some might say, "This is what ideal practice of faith should be like among Baptists" but what I witnessed was a spiritual fellowship. "730," which was an alternative name of the group, has finally become a synonym of the happy service in which everyone was complementing one another, developing into a much-told story in the history of HKBTS. From this, I got a glimpse of the morning glory of God's Kingdom again.
An Ever-expanding Volunteer Team
With the coronavirus outbreak, extension works and drainage issues, the workload of the seminary staff kept increasing steadily. Amidst the shortage of staff, God has amazingly guided Mrs. Melon Huen Yeung Mei-lun and Mrs. Katherine Lam Liu Yin-chun to join our team work, hence further expanding the volunteer team of the seminary. Ms. Melon Yeung is Dr. Freeman Huen's wife. She had been teaching in Aberdeen Baptist Lui Ming Choi College for 32 years. Then in 2007 she became school principal and worked in that capacity until last August when she retired early. Ms. Katherine Liu is Rev. Brian Lam's wife. She has recently retired from her work in a secondary school, which she has served for 36 years. Before retirement, she was the vice-principal of the school. The two ladies are currently Assistant to President and Project Officer (Learning and Teaching) of the seminary respectively. With their rich experience in teaching and school management, dedicated love to God and zeal in serving Him, I firmly believe they will become a new power driving the seminary forward. Besides them, Ms. Eva Ho, an alumna studying in a mission and world evangelism program in Emory University in the U.S., has also taken up the post of Development Officer on a voluntary basis to work with us to convey the vision of the seminary to different communities.
In recent months, as the extension works have been proceeding in full swing, the seminary has invited Deacon John Pak and Mr. Sam Chan from the Building Committee to be our Honorary Project Management Consultants, responsible for the supervision of the entire extension works and the holding of regular works progress meetings with the chairman of the Building Committee, Dr. Cecil Chan. They can be aptly described as "Super Volunteers," who played a leading role in the seminary's extension works, offering technical advice which has contributed to the smooth progress of the works.
In face of the drainage issue and our responsibility for environmental conservation, the seminary has gathered several core members of the Campus Environmental Consultation and Development Committee and the Building Committee, as well as an alumnus well-experienced in this domain, forming the Sai O Trunk Sewer Sewage Pumping Station (TSSPS) Issue Advisory Committee. The members include Mr. Edward Lam, Mr. Steve Wong, Deacon John Pak and Rev. Wong Mun-lun. They act as the vanguard for the drainage issue and have been unceasingly helping the seminary to face up to the challenge. Not only do they offer concrete and viable suggestions but also they join our administrative staff in meeting the developers of neighboring sites, representatives of government departments and environmental protection experts. In a sensible and reasonable approach, they state clearly the seminary's stance, hoping that the authorities concerned will work out an appropriate solution without compromising the life quality of existing residents and the long-term development of the community.
Staff and Volunteers Serving the Lord in One Mind
Throughout the journey, there have been lots of stories to tell. All these stories work together to bring out the life pattern of the seminary. On one hand, we have a team of regular teachers and staff; on the other, we have numerous volunteers behind the scenes sparing no effort in serving in different posts, some routine in nature, some administrative and others academic in nature. With the latest addition of a group of fresh and sincere members to the volunteer team, everyone is working hard together to contribute all they have to fulfill the mission of theological education. This is a touching picture indeed. From the deployment of all these human resources, we can see God's guidance throughout and the trueness of our faith. That is, when people experience God, their lives will be lived with this mode of "unreserved dedication." Just as what Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship."