Carrie Chen, Chrisie Wong, and Pastor Joel Scheiwe meet with Alan Zhou's father, Zhou Zhijun at his Wang Chuk Hang studio.
This afternoon, I spent an hour at the art studio of Mr. Zhao Zhijun, a distinguished Chinese artist whose paintings and calligraphy have received high praise in mainland China and Hong Kong. We’re here drinking tea from “Gao Shan” (High Mountain), and we’re here today so that we could learn about his son Alan, who was baptized at the Church of All Nations (CAN) earlier this year. Translating from Mandarin to English for me is Chrisie Wong, a volunteer parent who helps facilitate the after-school Christian Club called JOY Club. JOY stands for Jesus, Others, and You and is for HKIS students in Grades 1-5.
Zhijun isn’t a Christian himself and neither is Alan’s mother or older brother, but they are supportive of his faith because they understand why he believes and see positive changes in him. They are also very thankful for Alan’s very good friend Emmanuel.
Alan is in fourth grade at HKIS and has been attending JOY Club since September last year. For Alan, his faith story began at his good friend’s home. When Emmanuel’s family saw that the boys really enjoyed playing together, Emmanuel’s mother invited Alan to church with them.
"For Alan, his faith story began at his good friend's home."
That first Sunday, the congregation at CAN took part in Holy Communion, a regular ritual in Christian worship where bread and wine are consecrated and shared to participate in the salvation given by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Alan really wanted to receive Communion and wanted to know how he could be included. This curiosity began Alan’s journey of getting to know God.
Emmanuel’s mom gave Alan a Bible in English and his parents a Bible in Chinese. Alan’s mother started taking him to CAN on Sundays, and he and Emmanuel went to JOY Club together on Tuesdays after school. After a short three months of consistent inquiry into the truths of the Bible, Alan was baptized.
Alan's baptism at Church of All Nations surrounded by his parents and members of the Upper Primary Choir, who were performing that day.
Zhijun shares that Alan is a very curious boy and is interested in space exploration. He would ask his Dad where Jesus was, and he would answer “in the sky”. Zhijun has been exposed to many religions and is generally agnostic. He believes all cultures have their own version of religion. However, he had studied biblical art in his early years, so he recognized some of the stories in the Bible.
“Alan really likes to sing now. He never did before. He is always singing worship songs.” says Zhijun. “One time, Alan told me he was stuck in a lift and was scared, so he prayed. He said he felt close to God and that God answered his prayer when the lift re-started.” Zhijun feels that his son has become more compassionate and wants to help people in need. He can see these changes in Alan after becoming a Christian.
Zhijun’s studio is filled with his creations and paint materials. When reflecting on this special year for his son, he shares that he thinks art, the Bible, and its stories are all related. As we leave his studio, we are all inspired by this cultural and spiritual encounter.
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