On the inside, there are lots of stories
“It looks good on the outside. But on the inside, there are lots of stories. There are many people suffering.” That’s how Catherine Kwong describes the public housing complexes where the Urban Peacemaker Evangelical Fellowship serves. They may be freshly painted externally, but they often house some of Hong Kong’s poorest of the poor, compressing as many as 20,000 souls across only 9 blocks. As CEO of the holistic ministry, which aims to provide housing, mentorship, and Christ’s love to families in need, Catherine daily enters into these stories of suffering. “There are nearly 1.8 people living under the poverty line in Hong Kong, and many don’t know how to function within the society,” she says. “People are living in desperation. Many have suicidal tendencies; they don’t know how to raise their families. When I see them, I see how they suffer. You just hope that the whole community can be changed . . . that churches and Christians can go inside to share the gospel and be the companions of these families.” The ministry tries to serve as a bridge to connect local Christians with the families who need to hear the hope of the Gospel. Over the past year, the fellowship has partnered with hundreds of churches in Hong Kong. “These families have the chance to be served by Christians,” she says. “Over 1,000 of the poor have committed their lives to Christ, they’ve left idols to begin a new life in Christ.” While a social worker in her early 20s, Catherine said she felt God softening hear heart toward the poor and decided to pursue full-time ministry. She attended China Graduate School of Theology (CGST), led by Langham Scholar Dr. Stephen Lee, which prepared her to bring the gospel to the neediest in her city. “At CGST, they have a heart to train pastors and Christian workers, to encourage us to look at what’s going on in the cities, to share the gospel effectively,” she says. “So, that encouraged me and gave me the chance to participate in different kinds of grassroots ministries. It helped develop my theology, to be a critical thinker—but also to be humble and respect different traditions and diversities in the communities.” It’s Catherine’s theological training that helps anchor her ministry today, and she notes that she often returns to Luke 4:18-19 as a motivating Scripture passage. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (ESV) “When I study this Scripture, I am so touched by the heart of the Lord for the poor, for the marginalized. In this ministry, we face lots of challenges. I see so many broken families and hardships,” she says. “Every time I go back to the Scriptures, I just hold on to what it says. I say to the Lord, ‘This is what you promise, so here I am to believe what you say.’ The Lord strengthens me to continue to serve among the poor,” she says.