二○二○年九月五日／六日 Click here for English version
今年 2 月初，新冠肺炎在香港爆發第一波疫情，北宣家也在無奈的情況下，決定暫停所有實體聚會。作為教牧同工的我，其實感到很大的適應。我們要開始學習用不同的視頻，例如 Zoom 、Teams 等，以進行團契聚會、會議、教課程等工作，也要對著一排排空的座位講道和帶領祈禱會，出外要戴口罩，經常洗手，心中常常感受不安和焦慮。
The Pandemic as Culture Shock Experiences
Rev Sylvia Kwok
In early February when the first wave of coronavirus struck Hong Kong, the NPAC Family had to reluctantly stop all on-site meetings and go online. As a pastor, the adaptation has been far from easy. In the pastoral team, we have to learn to use Zoom, Teams, etc. for meetings, fellowship and teaching, and preach and lead prayer meetings in front of rows of empty chairs. We have to put masks on whenever we go out and wash our hands frequently. Uneasiness and anxiety is often felt.
Brothers and sisters are very much the same. They have to learn and adapt to the new work culture – working from home, home schooling and unable to eat with friends and relatives anymore. As for church life, they can only see other believers online and worship in front of the screen by oneself. Life becomes drab and dull. Meanwhile, glimpses of past colorful and exciting days and travel fun came back to mind. One young person said: "That's about all I can take!"
For a large part of the year, we have lived in uneasiness and anxiety. We miss the previous lifestyle. But as time goes by, we slowly and gradually adapted. Masks wearing and hands hygiene are part of the new normal. Unknowingly, we have ushered in a new culture and lifestyle.
What we are experiencing is exactly what faces our missionaries as soon as they land on their mission fields. They feel the impact of an unknown culture. A foreign language, social culture, values, customs, and even the basic aspects of life such as transport, food and shopping require adaptation. They see their relatives only online, just like us who cannot visit relatives in hospitals and elderly homes during the pandemic. The children of some missionaries also receive education at home.
Our adaptation to the new normal really helps us better understand the experience of our missionaries. It will also help us appreciate and identify with them more. While we are forced to live the new normal, these missionaries have gone to the mission fields in answer to God's call. In obedience and with love for the nations, they willingly withstand the foreign culture and lifestyle which often brings anxiety and discomfort.
One of the objectives of our short-term mission trips is to help believers understand the culture of the mission fields. Unfortunately this year, apart from two teams to South Asia in February, all our short-term missions have been canceled. But our God with a sense of humor (allow me to describe Him this way) may be using the pandemic to help us better understand the impact of an unknown culture on our missionaries, and to better grasp how to pray for them.
God has commanded us to make disciples of all nations. Our Mission Conference in September this year will go online due to the pandemic. Although there will not be on-site meetings, it is my hope and prayer that brothers and sisters will actively participate and would not forget to care for the needs of the unreached around the world.