The Legacy of Missionaries in Ying Wa
The Legacy of Missionaries in Ying Wa
Chan Seung Yan, Sonja (’71)
Our School was Founded by Missionaries
Throughout our school days, and especially during the annual Thanksgiving Service, students were reminded that our school was founded by the London Missionary Society (LMS). For us born in the 1940s to 1950s, we had actually been taught by teachers sent by the LMS, including the Headmistresses Miss Vera Silcocks and Miss Evelyn Jenkins, whom we dearly respected. They lived their life steadfast in their faith, and impressed upon the minds of their young students Christian values that they exemplified in and out of the classroom. The frugal life they led, as well as the sacrifice of leaving their country to serve in a faraway place, left a deep impression. It was indeed central to our education.
The 20th Century Missionary
Maureen Ma Mo Lin (’70) became a missionary and joined Operation Mobilisation (OM) France (https://www.om.org/fr-en/home) in 1989. OM France liaises with local evangelical Protestant churches and helps them with evangelism projects, short term outreaches, youth work as well as work among immigrants. Maureen was mainly involved with leadership and biblical training, pastoral care and preparing young French Christians for mission.
Maureen served OM for 31 years, retiring in 2020. On 3 September 2023, the China Congregational Church in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, held a thanksgiving service to mark her retirement (https://livestream.com/ccchurch/events/10946199). Thank you, Maureen, for sharing with us below your faith, and your journey, which is so inspiring.
“I have always been interested in France as a country: its culture, language, history and way of living. I was also interested in Europe as a continent. So, when I was in university, I studied English and Comparative (European) Literature. After my university studies, I went to France to study French culture and language. When I was in France, I realized that there are great spiritual needs in the country. It is a Catholic country (55% Catholics) with very few Protestants and evangelical Christians (less than 4%). Many Catholics may go to Mass or observe certain religious traditions like infant baptism, but they do not have a living relationship with Christ.
While I was studying in Paris, I stayed in a Salvation Army hostel. OM hired their hall to have a missionary conference one weekend in 1980. I was very touched by the testimonies of the OM leaders and how God called them to mission. I realized that God wanted me to work for Him in the country that I loved.
After my studies, I went back to Hong Kong to teach for 4 years in a secondary school before going back to France to do 3 years’ theological studies in preparation for my mission. Then I joined OM France in 1989.
Being far away from home, having to deal with homesickness and many unexpected problems in a foreign country, lots of travel, and working with people of different character and nationalities were the challenges I had to face. Westerners tend to be very open and direct in their communication. Asians are more reserved in their expression, and may try to maintain harmony. As a result, Asians would tend to suppress hurt feelings. This can lead to depression if not probably dealt with. I have also learnt from hard experience, and became more open and expressive in my opinions and feelings so that I would be understood.
I found satisfaction in seeing people come to Christ, French youngsters being trained and going out on mission, young people from other countries come to France and be transformed by their mission experience, churches being helped in their growth, and God work in His miraculous ways.
I would encourage our younger sisters to dare to follow the dreams and desires that the Lord has put in their hearts, live every day to the full and be a blessing to others.
My two sisters Ka Lin (’68) and Oi Lin (’74) are also Ying Wa alumnae. My father, the late Rev John Ma King Chuen had been Chairman of the School Council for many years. My mother, the late Mrs Rayann Ma, had also been President of the school PTA.”
Editor’s note: Maureen completed Form 5 in 1970, and then studied in the USA for one year. She returned to Ying Wa in 1971 for her A-Levels, and was the Vice-president of our Student Association (1971-72). She also wrote an article for our newsletter (please see page 3 of the March 2004 issue at https://www.ywgsaa.org.hk/sites/default/files/newsletter/0402.pdf).