BYU, BYU－Idaho and BYU－Hawaii held a joint-school fast and prayer along with a devotional in response to the protests and tension in Hong Kong. More than 100 people attended and rooms were filled with students sharing messages of peace and positivity regarding the violence happening in Hong Kong.
The fasting began Saturday, Nov. 16 and ended with a devotional on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. Hawaii time.
Rachel Law, a freshman from Washington majoring in TESOL, said church-related activities can unite people from all over. She said it was amazing to see how people from different places around the world can have friendships and connections with each other when united with the same goal. “The Spirit could really be felt, especially since almost all of us were fasting together.”
Victoria Lau, one of the organizers from BYUI, said this event united Hong Kong students in Idaho, “Unlike BYUH, in Idaho we are more scattered and we rarely gather together. I have never seen so many Hong Kongers gather in one place for an event here.”
A student at BYU, Deseret Johnson, served in Hong Kong and she said there were over 40 people in Provo. “It was really powerful for me to just watch so many faithful, humble, and amazing people come together to express love.“
The devotional began with a joint-school video call, as images of students in Provo and Idaho were joined together on a projected screen with Hawaii at the corner. A spiritual thought was given by Gordon Lee, a sophomore from Hong Kong majoring in TESOL, after an opening hymn and an opening prayer given by a student in Idaho.
Lau said she was deeply touched by the Spirit when they were singing the opening hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” She said, “It is very special [to me] that the message of hope touched everyone in this hard situation. It is such a powerful claim to tell the Lord we promise we will never ever lose our faith. This was my favorite part of the night.”
Each school had its own personal devotional after the video call was ended. In Hawaii, students sat in rows as they listened to the students who wanted to share their testimonies like a testimony meeting.
Clarissa Tekeiaki, a senior from Utah majoring in TESOL, was one of the students who shared her testimony. She started by saying she is the least-qualified person in the room to speak because she has not been to Hong Kong, but she followed by saying she came to BYUH because she loves cultures and people.
She later added, “The Spirit was so strong as these faithful students, most of them directly affected by what's going on, shared their testimonies of faith, peace, and forgiveness. [Despite] uncertainty and fear, they are choosing to turn to God and Christ's Atonement instead of adding to the anger.”
Elaine Wong, a freshman from Hong Kong studying TESOL, said she was inspired by two others sharing about Joseph Smith’s experience in Liberty Jail, “Hong Kong is kind of having a similar situation. It just reminds me that God really has a plan. Every individual has their own hard time. If all the Church members [worried for Hong Kong] can stay strong, it will bring more peace.”
Law said she cried a little bit in the middle of her linguistics class several weeks ago when Wong first told her about everything going on in Hong Kong. She said, “I wanted to support her and my other friends from Hong Kong in this time of struggle. I can't fathom how difficult it would be to have your home being consumed by so much violence and hatred.”