Episode 6 – The Illusion of Freedom

-As promised, this is a rough transcript of my podcast episode. I will be following along this as my script, minor changes may occur as I speak and stumble over words. If you would prefer to listen, please subscribe on Spotify, or iTunes! –

Hello everyone, my name is Sharon, and thank you for joining me on another episode of UNASHAMED (to be Asian). I originally had a different post regarding freedom set to be posted last week (since I’m so original), but with the news of what is going on with Hong Kong, I made the executive decision to rewrite this post and postpone it. With that said, I currently have family in Hong Kong, so there are a lot of things that I don’t feel comfortable posting on a public platform, because I don’t want to put them in any danger.

For those of you who are unaware, China recently passed a security law that overrides the current security procedures in Hong Kong. It essentially demolishes the “one nation, two governments” system that was instilled when Hong Kong was first returned to China. You may have noticed that there aren’t as many social media posts regarding this issue as compared to the Extradition Policy. This is because the current security law forbids any type of protests – protesting is seen as treason and punishable by life imprisonment. Social media posts or asking for help with foreign nations is also considered treason, and a lot of people are afraid to speak out in fear of being accused of such. This has even spread to trade – mainland China is constricting Hong Kong from being able to have free trade as before, as all foreign trade must first be approved by the Chinese government. Tourism is also affected – of course COVID-19 has had a huge impact on that, but as Chinese security measures are being put in place, many more people will be denied entry into Hong Kong.

However, these issues are not limited to how Hong Kong lives can be affected. As we are all learning more about what this new security law entails, it’s becoming surprisingly clear that this law as a much greater magnitude than what we anticipated. Current events are aligning world powers in a very similar fashion as when WWI and WWII broke out, and it’s apparent that as different world leaders align accordingly, scales are being tipped. I’m not a conspiracy podcast, but the Bible documents for us that history has a tendency of repeating itself, and it’s not impossible for us to be led towards WWIII based on everything that’s going on. Decisions that are made now can allude to irreversible damage and consequences. What we must do is pray. I urge you, please research and look into more information about the security law. As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of things I cannot say out of protection for my family – but if you are able, please help voice out concerns.

As Christians, we’re called to consistently hope. Though things seem bleak from a political, social, economic, and global front, we must rejoice. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t continue researching the impacts of this Chinese law, and also keep help fighting for equality and justice. However, I am glad that this time is a prime time for Christians of Hong Kong to have their faith tested. Christians – Protestant and Catholics make up about a third of the Hong Kong population. However, China is a highly censored nation, and Christianity is only allowed in extremely censored settings, where the Bible is no longer even intact! I don’t know if… or when the censorship of religion will come into Hong Kong to tear down churches and burn Bibles. Now is more crucial a time than any for Christians to stand firm in their faith to face whatever may come. Will their desire for comfort take them away from the Church? Or will their faith be that much more magnified and precious to them, that they are not afraid to worship in secret and share the hope they have among their neighbours? This is a prime time for God to shape and mold the faith of His people in Hong Kong, as 1 Peter 1:7 reads, “So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

As an Asian American, I realize that my perspective on religious freedom is that I take it so much for granted. I can’t speak on behalf of other nations, other Asian and Asian-X communities, but here in the States, I see that religious freedom is something that is sometimes viewed as an irrevocable liberty, but that’s not the case. The persecution we believe we go though is nothing compared to others. Our trials and obstacles are real and can cause us to lament and grow in our faith. However, we must also be wary and acknowledge our privilege.

Freedom is an illusion – we have freedom of religion here in the States. But as I think more and more about my own relationship with God, I recognize how little faith I have. In knowing that my mother would be against my faith, I hid it from her for a long time. I felt that speaking up about it would only aggravate her, and that it wasn’t important. I not only had brothers and sisters in Christ by my side, reminding me to pray for her – I had an entire political system that favours Christians, and for me, that was enough. I didn’t value my faith because I valued the freedoms I had in being a Christian more. I had the freedom to have fellowship and be prayed for, and I had the freedom to go to ministry events without having a need to defend my faith. I also had the freedom to shirk away from hard conversations by remaining silent , such as with my mother and friends of the LGBTQIA+ community. It took a long time for me to recognize the importance being honest about my identity and having these conversations – it’s important to recognize varying perspectives to understand what our faith truly is about. Our faith isn’t about trying to shove the Gospel down the throats of unwilling and non-receptive people (Matthew 10:14). It’s also not about picketing Prop 8 rallies and trying to promote the disowning, persecution, and killing of members of LGBTQIA+ communities (Acts 8:36-38). It’s in these hard conversations of recognizing the realities of what some people face so that we can apologize and extend the love and grace of Christ – the true Gospel message of how Christ died for all of our sins so that we may have a relationship with God and return to Heaven, to people who would have otherwise been closed off.

Christians in Hong Kong must face these hard discussions now. What does it mean to be a Christian when the censorship of Christianity may be imminent? What does it mean to have hope and faith in God when He’s allowing all of these calamities to happen? It’s been one after another – the Extradition Policy which led to massive protests in fear of Hong Kong tourism being cut down, COVID-19, and now this security policy which has already led to arrests and imprisonment of Hong Kong activists. Many elderly living in Hong Kong fled to Hong Kong to avoid the tyranny of Mao Zedong. My grandmother has a story of how she swam to Hong Kong, and lost her twin sister out in the ocean. And likewise, many fled Hong Kong just prior to 1997, my mother included, out of fear that China would take over and build its regime as before. That fear is coming back, and a lot of people are in despair and anxiety over this situation. It’s time for the Church to talk about these hard topics and recognize that these fears and anxieties are valid. It’s time for the church to have conversations about next steps and how to continue on being faithful in case of the worst case scenario. It’s time for conversations about how to share Christ even if at some point it might become outlawed. Censorship has already gone up in the scope of internet activity, it might not be long before Bibles are prohibited as they are in mainland.

Please pray for Hong Kong and their current situation – please pray for change and opportunities for other nations to be a helping hand to the residents of Hong Kong. Please pray that in these uncertain times, that the believers within Hong Kong can be encouraged in each other and in God, knowing that He is faithful despite what worldly challenges may come. Now is a prime opportunity to share of this hope in faith – let our brothers and sisters in Christ not be discouraged by the circumstances, but to continue seek and exude grace, mercy, love and trust so that others can experience what this beautiful relationship with God can be. Please also pray for the global response to everything that’s going on – for wisdom in our world leaders to engage with discernment.

Thank you so much for staying with me this week, I know that things have been pretty political lately, but I promise I will be going back into more storytime for the next episode. If you’d like to continue on this conversation with me, please feel free to DM me via I nstagram @unashamed.space, or check out the blog at www.unashamed.space/blog, where I’ll be posting a reflection of this episode on Wednesday! Have a safe week everyone!

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