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Finance-mad Hong Kong has a surprisingly strong spiritual side

PEOPLE ARE OFTEN surprised to discover that Hong Kong is a spiritual place. Although one might be forgiven for assuming this global finance center would be hardnosed and irreligious business city, this is not the case.

About half of the population belong to organized belief groups, such as  Buddhism, Taoism or Christianity. Are the other half made up of scientific materialists? No. Most informally adhere to traditional Chinese beliefs, such as ancestor worship.

And of look at lists of non-business organisations, such as schools, hospitals and charities, one sees a huge number of them have Christian origins. The Anglican church alone has more than 120 schools in Hong Kong, from secondary schools, to primary schools, to kindergartens, to special education institutions.

Many of the most famous schools in Hong Kong, such as St Paul’s Co-ed, or Diocesan Girls School, have names that give away their Anglican or Roman Catholic origins.


Given Hong Kong’s under-appreciated spiritual side, it seemed wise to have the Archbishop Andrew Chan of the Hong Kong Anglican Church as a guest on Friday Beyond Spotlights. His church is known in the Chinese language as the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, or SKH.

The organization is outward focused, not inward looking, he said, serving everyone.  “Firstly, we offer spiritual support and pastoral care, not only to church members but also to every citizen, regardless of their religious beliefs,” Andrew explained.

Education is a big area of interest, but there are many other services provided. “We also have over 200 social service units that serve the citizens of Hong Kong, ranging from elderly care to nursery services, outreach programs, and family counselling. Our aim is to contribute to making Hong Kong a better city,” he said.


In the early days of colonial Hong Kong, missionaries had a slogan, he said: “Begin, Beget, and Begone.”

“Begin signified the start of their ministry in the city,” he said. “Beget meant they trained people to take over all the works of the church in this city in order to serve the people there. And then, after they were capable of taking over all these works, the missionaries would ‘Begone,’ which referred to leaving the area and moving to a new place to spread God’s words of love.”

You can watch the whole discussion on the video below, or scroll down further to read further.


During the conversation, Andrew discussed the meaning of suffering, stating, “Some people think suffering is a curse. But for me, suffering is a blessing because through it, I open myself more to God and learn humility and service. Suffering leads to growth.”

Although the leading church minister has a broad smile, he has been personally struck by a family tragedy, losing two children, both sons: “The first one lived for only nine days, while the other lived for 8 years due to a severe inborn illness.”

Despite this immense suffering, Andrew came to understand that the temporary and the eternal are not contradictory. He said: “Although my son’s life was short in the eyes of men, his impact on people is eternal. His smile, joy, and happiness were contagious, and many people gained new insights into suffering through him.”

Speaking about ways to overcome suffering, Andrew firmly believed that God accompanies each person every step of the way. He acknowledged the prevalence of suffering and stressed the importance of using our own experience of suffering to support others facing similar challenges.

“We just have to try our best with a heart to serve the people,” he said. “And God will use all the resources he gave us to benefit the whole world. Keep faith.”


Andrew was born into a Christian family and baptized as a baby. As a third-generation Christian, he considered it a blessing to have grown up in such an environment.

From a young age, he attended Sunday school, listened to Bible stories, and participated in church events. Reflecting on his upbringing, Andrew remarked: “All of these experiences shaped my life and taught me the values of love and mutual respect.”

As a big contributor to the community, he was noticed by people who suggested that he would make a good minister. “Why don’t you become a pastor?” many people said.

However, he remained hesitant, until he came across a book titled “You Call Me, I’m Here.” The author made a thought-provoking point that resonated with Andrew. The author suggested that if uncertain about a calling from God, one should take it as a Yes and take that first step.

If it was not God’s will, you would soon find that made clear.

For Andrew Chan, it soon became abundantly clear that he should continue down that path. And as a popular, well-respected church leader, there are hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong who are glad he did.

All images from Friday Beyond Spotlights.

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