By John Ford
In 2021, the Home Office estimates that 130,000 people will migrate from Hong Kong to the UK following the introduction of a new visa. In the end, Britain estimates that about 300,000 will take up the visa offer during the next five years.
This is the largest planned migration of people to the UK since the migration of the Windrush generation.
In light of this, Krish Kandiah hosted an evening, with around 700 delegates entitled “Hong Kong Ready Church”, urging churches to be ready to show hospitality to those arriving in the UK. (To watch the presentation click here.)
Krish Kandiah pointed out that when those from the Windrush generation arrived in the UK from the Caribbean many of them were not made welcome. Tragically and regrettably, our UK churches often failed to have an open door for them. However, this is an opportunity for the church, in our generation, to tell a different story – one of welcome and radical hospitality.
The focal bible verse of the evening was Hebrews 13 verse 2 and its mandate for Christians to show hospitality.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2).
We were reminded of the obstacles that those moving from Hong Kong to the UK will encounter. Anyone who has moved to a different country knows how difficult it can be. Entering a different culture and learning a new language is challenging. Every country has different systems in place to make life work (e.g. how to apply for schools, how to rent property, etc) and not knowing how these work is stressful. Moving in the middle of a global pandemic adds further complications.
What a difference it would make if our churches were a place where those arriving knew they would be welcomed and befriended. What if those in our churches were able to help with those encountering difficulties, such as renting a house, applying for work and filling in application forms (for schools, National Insurance, etc)?
Emily Holden from Welcome Churches, an organisation which trains churches to welcome refugees, pointed out that a good welcome is intentional and pro-active. This is a call for us to be ready and to get equipped.
A practical way of getting ready to do this, is to sign up your church to be a community that welcomes the people arriving from Hong Kong. You can sign up here – https://ukhk.org/church. Your church will be profiled at ukhk.org/church and those migrating from Hong Kong will be able to connect with you easily when they first arrive.
Many from Hong Kong will be seeking to make a new life in the UK in the coming years. In the gospel we encountered the radical hospitality of God. Let’s extend that to the many who are coming. What an opportunity to show the love of Christ and share the gospel with many!