Interviewed by : Chan Hing-Ling (Alumni Relations, MCS 2011)
Written by: Mimi Tang (Development Liaison, MDiv 1996)
Two parallel lines will never meet on a two-dimensional plane. Yet, when this geometric theory is applied to our life, stories being told separately on two parallel lines will create a gulf. The media often acts as a thread woven through the two lines, with reporters to pull strings to reveal the contrast by means of text, sound or images. Maybe it is through such a thread that mutual listening and communication can be made possible.
A Perfect Completion
Apple is a veteran financial reporter. She is Assistant Director of News and Public Affairs at Commercial Radio, and has been elected the Chairperson of the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association this year. It is common to see journalists changing jobs, but April is quite the opposite: she has been with Commercial Radio for 20 years, which is far beyond her own expectation: “I love going to work. This is grace. I have seen the Lord leading me in the past 20 years. Having been a financial reporter all these years, I have opportunities to cover local news, even electoral forums. No doubt the preparatory work is painful and very stressful, this job gave me a lot of room to try new things. That is really awesome!”
Early in her career, Apple had a wish, “Lord, can you let me see a person who is both a good reporter and a good Christian?” The Lord did not disappoint her. He not only revealed to her that integrating work with faith is not a dream but a reality, but also led her to join a fellowship and further took her to CGST to study the Diploma in Christian Studies course. She ended up studying here for 11 years, from 2004 to 2015. It would have been so easy for her to give up during that period and so difficult for her to persevere to the end. She had her children during that period, had to take care of her work and family, and even experienced a curriculum change at CGST. “It was good enough that I could finish my studies and graduate. I nearly had to quit.” She met a CGST alumnus over a meal who encouraged her to complete her studies. “At that time, I just needed 6 more credits to graduate. As it turned out, I did well in those final 6 credits and had a perfect completion to my studies.”
Perfection is where the end unexpectedly resonates with the beginning.
From the course “Christian Discipleship” in the first semester to my repeated choice of the same course in the last semester, from the teaching of Dr Peter Chang to that of Rev Philip Yeung, the same subject cuts across my entire learning path. “I accepted Christ in my early high school days in a Christian school. So I considered my faith to be quite solid when I entered CGST. But attending Dr Chang’s class gave me a certain kind of space and let me experienced the power of the Word through meditation. That had a profound impact on me!” Prior to her graduation, she opted to retake the same course in the new curriculum due to limited choice of subjects at the time. “Of course it was also because of the popularity of the course. Rev. Yeung led us to discover the real messages behind the Bible passages, and how to apply that in our lives and define where we are. I have learnt a lot from that.”
That semester was in September 2014, a time when we witnessed tensions in Hong Kong society, evolving into two parallel lines carrying diverse viewpoints that would no longer cross and meet with each other.
From Loneliness to Settling Down
Apple described Hong Kong at that time as being shrouded in low atmospheric pressure. “Professional journalism has trained us not to be impacted by our personal views. Yet when there were such severe controversies and we had to write under such grave tensions, it was especially important to state clearly the main points of our messages so that the content would not be biased.” Defining a standpoint by our pen was not too difficult as being a writer by profession. Returning home after work would however bring forth struggles. “Frankly, it wouldn’t be surprised for a person to hold either correct or incorrect views. It was rather difficult for me to face the choice that “if you do not accept the entirety, you would be rejecting the entirety.” Whenever I left the office, I would think about how I should position myself: should I dive in or pull out, or should I remain indifferent?” The outbreak of the immense social contradictions immediately turned our lives into a battlefield: “Up to a certain point, I even felt like being abandoned! If I did not want disputes, it would be wise to keep my mouth shut. But if we never talked about things, we would be like living on islands. The interviews I had by then, I discovered that many people invariably felt that ‘no one is thinking like me’ or ‘I am the only one having such thoughts’.”
There was a period of time when Apple’s daily routine was work, study, work again, reporting the midnight news, then went home. “During that time, the concept of ‘discernment’ ment ioned in Rev Yeung’s class and subsequently in the “Spiritual Formation (III)” class taught by Annie (Dr Annie Pan Yi Jung, Assistant Professor (Practical Studies)) helped me face the situation, allowing me to reorganize my space and reflect again upon what the Lord had put in my workplace and my calling. What was my calling? It was to clearly set out both sides’ position before starting any fight. One should respect all the facts and first understand the opponent’s position, even though there might be mutual resentment. That at least would enable us to ‘fight’ the right things. If we are talking about faith and work integrating with our practice, I think that must be it. Ever since I found my place, my heart has been more settled.”
Discerning the Face of the Times
After graduation, Apple has been attending the meditation sessions led by Rev Philip Yeung. The meditation she had in November 2015 had a strong impact on her: “It was Luke 12:49-13:10 which mentioned that Christians should know ‘the needs of the times’. I was shocked at the time because I really was not certain what that was and I really did not know!” Yet reporter were on the frontline, hearing, recording and seeing through their camera lenses the footprints of the times, discerning the face of the times was another completely different lesson. “Being in the midst of a chaotic environment where each has a different voice with varying demands, it is easy to get lost or not able to see the way ahead. The Bible passage said that ‘should know’ is a request, but ‘not knowing’ is a reality. As I did not know, I have to learn to ask and then do what should be done.”
On the journey of inquiry, Apple feels that no answer is “standard” or “correct”. “Looking back the entire learning experience, I got a very clear message: do not go beyond the message of the Bible, and do not think you can control the Lord. Meditation of the Scripture has made me understand that we are never the absolute authority, only God is. There are already too many people in our society thinking that they are absolutely correct. They reject other’s opinion, and are unable to accept different views. Sometimes I have all the reasons to be angry, but one should still learn to leave a few reasons behind, not only because the other person deserves it, but also because we should leave some space to respect that our Lord is the one in control, not us.” Hence she finds it important to overcome dissenting views and accept each other: “This is the biggest challenge of the current society, yet it is also what we Christians can do every day. We will not be short of people with contrary views around us. However, when we sit down with them to talk about important issues and cannot reach an agreement, at least we would not need to go separate ways. Maybe in doing that, we can start seeing views that we have overlooked all along.”
To Apple, politics and life, work and family are never parallel lines that segregate each other, but are intertwined with the Lord prevailing, leading her to pull strings between two polar ends and become a channel for the Lord.