A BLOCK FROM the Prince Edward Station memorial stands an office building where Enoch Christian Fellowship, a group ministering to Hong Kong police officers, is located. During the Oct. 1 protest, multiple protesters congregated at the building’s front door, noting that Enoch was affiliated with the police, said Pastor Hui Shuk-fun. The protesters eventually left peacefully, but Hui worries about the safety of her family as she’s seen people snooping around the building.
Much of the protesters’ vitriol has been directed at the Hong Kong Police Force, as videos circulate of police beating protesters and shoving their faces into the ground. Since the protests began, police have fired rubber bullets, sponge grenades, water cannons, several live rounds, and nearly 5,000 tear gas canisters at the protesters.
A poll conducted by the Center for Communication and Public Opinion Survey at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that 70 percent of respondents did not trust the police to some degree, with 52 percent saying they had zero trust in the police.
Hui said the breakdown of trust has been extremely difficult on the police officers she ministers to as they feel “no one accepts or appreciates” the police anymore. Once known as “Asia’s finest,” Hong Kong police officers now face death threats and are met with shouts of “Corrupt cops!” and “Triad members!” as they approach.
Some protesters hurl Molotov cocktails, bricks, and corrosive liquids at the police, and at times gang up to attack them. On Oct. 13, police said protesters remotely detonated a homemade explosive on a road near where police were clearing roadblocks. None were injured.
The spouses and children of police officers are also receiving threats: Some find their personal information posted online, while others say their children face discrimination at schools. Some officers have left their churches, Hui said, sometimes because of the church’s stance on the protests but sometimes because fellow congregants view them differently and call them corrupt.
Enoch Christian Fellowship has about 400-500 members, including active police officers, trainees, retired police, and family members of the police. Hui says she often receives calls from police wives asking for prayer because they’re afraid of what will happen to their husbands at work. Other police officers call her to discuss work pressures, emotional troubles, and relationship problems.
As a chaplain of the police department, she’s able to accompany the department’s psychologist to visit police officers—many of whom are non-Christians—and pray with them and invite them to the fellowship. She found that some police officers are more resistant to the gospel because they view Christians as siding with the “rioters” and allowing them to take shelter in churches. “We encourage them to look at the Bible itself, not how others interpret the Bible,” Hui said. “Don’t look to people, look to God.”
Starting in July, Hui started listing evidences of God’s grace through the protests: She noted moments God protected members of the fellowship from harm, times when police arrested protesters with dangerous materials in their homes, and the fact that the 18-year-old protester who was shot in the chest by police on Oct. 1 was in a stable condition. Each night at 10 p.m. she sends out a list of prayer requests through WhatsApp and prays with others in the fellowship.
Hui knows that many Christians disagree with her pro-police and pro-government views, as she receives nasty feedback to her posts on Enoch’s websites, but she knows her writing has brought encouragement to police who feel they’re finally understood. Hui’s college-aged children also disagree with her political stance, but at home Hui doesn’t engage in discussions because she doesn’t feel she can speak for the police.
Recently, some churches began holding discussions with Christian police officers, pastors, and young people in an effort for different sides to better understand each other. Rather than discuss politics, they talk about how they’re feeling on a personal level and how to care for one another.
“I think if Christians can put down their views and only discuss their mission, I think it’s possible to reconcile,” Hui said, pointing to Jesus’ call to love one another and the Great Commission to make disciples of all men. “But if it’s about who’s right and wrong, we’ll never come together.”