I have such a cool job. I get to hang out with international students, build friendships, go on island excursions, lead Bible studies, host dinners, and go on trips and retreats. While the activities of InterVarsity staff life are pretty exciting, what I like most is the incredible people I get to meet. Today I hung out with my friend Charlie, an international student from Hong Kong spending her Spring semester in Hawaii. She and I got to know each other about a month ago on a hike to the botanical gardens… you know, the usual. 🙂 But Charlie isn’t your usual Hong Kong girl. She lives from a deep place, from a true love for Jesus and a hope that his resurrection offers the power for world transformation.
Remember Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution that took over media attention last fall as citizens NPCSC’s decision to restrict the electoral system? HK citizens reacted against this further encroaching of a communist system after over a century of existing as a free-market protectorate of Great Britain. As thousands blocked major intersections, police attacked with tear gas and hoses, hence the opening of the umbrellas which were re-purposed as shields.
Charlie was a part of these protests. She told me that as a Sociology major, her professors and classmates unanimously boycotted school and headed to the streets. But she’s not only a crowd-following activist, she walks to her own beat and looks for ways to renew the world around her. When Charlie and some friends noticed the division between her church community and the homeless community, they took action. They noticed the way those in power oppress the homeless, kicking them out of parks, a kind of last resort “home”. They also noticed that their church family was vulnerable to becoming insular. So they saw a win-win. Charlie helped mobilize her church to go meet the homeless community once or twice a month. They go bearing food (at Spring Festival it was a cart-load of moon cakes!) and a heart for friendship. They recognize that people not only need their bellies filled but their hearts filled with the love of community. So they offer food and friendship and receive some in return.
Charlie’s a cool girl. I think she’s going to change Hong Kong. Not only is she smart, quick-witted, and friendly, but she sees things others don’t see. She sees the systems and institutions that hold people back from their full potential for flourishing and she wants to see them changed with the power and love of Jesus. Watch out world, here comes an Umbrella Hero!