How do you care for creation in a metropolis?

Despite Hong Kong’s reputation as a big metropolis, about half of its 1,106 km2 land area is country park and farmland.

While most Hong Kong people live in high-rise buildings, there is a growing interest in reconnecting to nature and participating in farming activities. Different groups have taken up the challenge to relink people to their roots in nature. Many of these are led by Christians impelled by a strong biblical mandate for creation care. Some minister to society as part of secular organisations, while others do so through their churches or Christian conservation groups.

Loving our neighbours

The Ministry to New Arrivals Limited (MNAL) started out ministering to the need of the marginalized in Hong Kong – new immigrants from China and south Asia – through holistic ministry. Under the rubric of ‘Body, Heart, Society, Spirit’, new arrivals are both helped out of poverty, emotional and social isolation and helped to discover the good news of Jesus. When a government village school in a rural area (Fanling) was closed in 2006, MNAL applied to the government to set up a Life-Building Centre there to extend its holistic mission. It further rented a half-hectare abandoned farm (there are quite a few all over Hong Kong) nearby to serve the community.

Going by the motto of ‘Nurturing life through the land’, the operation promotes:

  1. Education
    Visits by church or school groups from all over Hong Kong are arranged to give members hands-on experience in organic farming and to learn about biodiversity through fun activities. Interested parties can also rent a small plot of land for their own farming.
  2. Ecological conservation
    Practicing organic farming; developing creative experimental techniques in living with nature, e.g. raising snails to degrade cardboard, re-planting indigenous vegetation through mud-ball throwing (these have seeds embedded in them that are preserved at the right humidity before use), controlling invasive species – fire-ants – through using their debris for making clay … etc.
  3. Cultural conservation
    The Hakka people from northern China migrated south centuries ago, but a remnant Hakka culture of farming and local eating exists in the area. A corner in the old school complex has been reserved for displaying Hakka artifacts and history. Passing on skills and oral tradition is encouraged through facilitating youths to visit and learn from local elders.
  4. Life nurturing
    A small number of young people marginalised by society have been trained individually in basic farming and life skills to help re-integrate them back into society. Over the years, a handful of these youths have started a new life in the ‘city’ while a few more have continued with managing the farm.
  5. Poverty assistance
    Competing in the organic food market is never MNAL’s goal. Instead, seasonal produce from the land is distributed free to the local poor during harvests and special festivals.

Growing together

Throughout its decade-long presence in the local community, MNAL has ministered to all people regardless of their religious background. Thousands of Christians from all over Hong Kong have visited the farm and hundreds of villagers of all stripes have participated in various activities. Slowly but steadily, lives have been transformed and built up for Christ.

Several different groups run by Christians in different parts of rural Hong Kong have been pursuing one or more of the above activities or more specialized goals (e.g. butterfly preservation, meditation in nature . . . etc.) to bring the message of creation care to Hong Kong’s people.

In 2019, Hong Kong hosted the first local Lausanne Creation Care conference to mainstream creation care within the Christianity community.[1] To build further on this beginning, MNAL is organising a program to bring the creation care message to seminaries, churches and schools according to their needs and progress. OMF Hong Kong has sponsored both the conference and the follow-up project. MNAL’s farm can be one of the platforms, among many in Hong Kong, for those who care about God’s creation to start their life-long journey.