ON THE MORNING OF SUNDAY, SEPT. 29, Chan started his day leading a church worship service in a cramped walk-up apartment in Sheung Shui, a neighborhood near the Chinese border. He strummed a guitar and led 20 church attendees in the worship song “I Sing Praises to Your Name.” Around him were piles of storage bags full of gas masks, helmets, and goggles for protesters.
As Chan prayed for God to bring justice and hope amid Hong Kong’s dark days, several church members cried softly, dabbing their eyes with tissues.
The morning’s sermon looked at the story of Lazarus and the rich man from Luke Chapter 16, as Chan asked, “What is the difference between a person and an object?” The topic was pertinent to the church: A week earlier, a member of Protect the Children became separated from the group and was surrounded by police in an alley. A blurry video showed police swarming and kicking him as he lay on the ground. But police official Vasco Williams, when asked about the incident, said that the video appeared to show “an officer kicking a yellow object on the ground” and that he wasn’t sure what the object was.
Another, clearer video revealed it was really a man on the ground. Chan said the Protect the Children volunteer had bleeding gums and dizziness from the encounter. Many decried the police force’s dehumanization of protesters and aid workers.
In the sermon, Chan pointed out that the rich man ignored Lazarus’ needs, treating him more like an object than a human. He also warned pro-democracy supporters against turning their anger at injustice into hatred of people on the other side.
Afterward, one middle-aged congregant said he found it challenging to be a Christian, since he didn’t see justice and felt hopeless. Another attendee, a woman wearing a Protect the Children shirt, responded that Christians need to hope in God’s sovereign will and His control of the future. She admitted she also faced moments of discouragement and depression, “but we must find time to pray, read the Bible, sing hymns, and hold on to God tightly.”