My urban journey began in the early 1980's when I first met Ray Bakke in Hong Kong. After we prayed together in Lion Rock Mountain for the city of Hong Kong he challenged me to come to Chicago to learn and study with him. I felt a sense of call and moved to Chicago at the end of that same year.
I went back to Hong Kong in l983. The things that I learned in Chicago included three areas which I think are very important. Number one is learning the skill of exegeting the community and the city and how that informed me of the reality of the city and helped me to developed a realistic strategy of ministry for the cities.
The second thing I learned is the way to constantly get new understanding and new ideas about a constantly changing world particularly the process of urbanization around the world. The training in Chicago twenty years ago helped me to understand the global urbanization processes that affect a city like Hong Kong and particularly mainline Chinese cites and it has helped me to develop my own ministry strategy for inside China.
The thing that I think is most important is the being of life. To be an effective urban minister I had to learn how to be tough enough to have the strength and courage that allowed me to engage the complexity of the city. What I mean is that working in the city is an exhausting job that pushes you to always think of dropping out. A strong supporting team, fellowship groups, study groups and attending conferences has been helpful for improving my ministry. It takes more energy and commitment to maintain a vital spirit for work in the city . I know that a strong commitment to the poor and a vision to see that the quality of life can be the same among all people is essential but there is something more than that, a diehearted urge to see that both the poor themselves and the social structure that oppresses them transformed is a very difficult job. I discovered that it requires a person with a sacrificial heart, an ability to embrace differences, cope with the reality, accept failures, a vital spirit to respond to new challenges, a heart of compassion to continue to be competent and effective in the ministry. These characteristics usually can not be learned or taught at an institution. But through my involvement and participation in ministry, my faith in Christ and some signs of hope in these ministries and the joy I received from ministry I was uplifted and strengthened.
In twelve years, I've gone from being a student to being a senior pastor of a growing church (two new churches have been planted and the membership is now over l,300 people) and president of a humanitarian organization which monitors twenty projects inside China and fifty-seven projects internationally and has a budget of over $12 million per year.
Knowledge improvement and skill development are important, but the most important thing is how you look at your life as a person, an integrated being who is in tune with how the whole process of urbanization interacts with the called of Jesus Christ in response to those needs.