Derrick Engoy, CDF Capital staff writer sat down with Hosanna Wong, a featured CDF Capital speaker at FutureFWD 2020 and Backstage Pass, to discuss her takeaways from last year. Hosanna is an accomplished spoken word artist and a minister at EastLake Church, one of CDF Capital’s partner churches in Chula Vista, California.
The year 2020, where many were looking forward to gaining a sense of clear vision, turned out to be nothing short of chaotic uncertainty. Last year was riddled with a worldwide pandemic, social unrest, and a presidential election underlined by alleged voter fraud. With faith communities still not able to physically meet at full capacity, the future of the Church seemed to be at an impasse.
Hosanna Wong began seeing clearly through life’s fogged lenses even before the year unraveled.
He is With Us
“When the lockdowns happened, there was this overwhelming clarity that nobody else was coming to help,” Hosanna remembered. “The local church had to be Jesus. We had to listen to people and be there with them. I’ve been calling it ‘Emmanuel-ness.’ One of the best things about Jesus is that He’s not far away and distant. He’s with us.”
Hosanna contends that we are living in a season that does not have a precedented instruction manual. She senses God moving her ministry team, local congregation, and partnering ministries from previously planned projects, schedules, and programming toward the heart of humanity. The Church at Large, in order to effectively reach people amidst uncertainty, has to truly rely on God and not on strategies of the past.
“We can’t keep doing what we’ve done for. 5 years, leading up to this moment,” Hosanna explains with enthusiasm and a smile on her face. “Now we have to be Jesus. We need to up our ‘Emmanuel-ness’ and meet people where they are. We have to see the needs of our neighbors.”
We show up. We may fumble through it. But we are faithful. We’re the only help here.
Pivots in Ministry
When the pandemic hit, many streets in the San Francisco Bay area were being closed. Tent cities were popping up at a rate the city had not seen before. Hosanna and her husband, Guy, realized impacting the homeless communities would be a more difficult task. So they pressed into their roles as Executive Directors of Calvary Street Ministries, a homeless outreach in San Francisco.
“It was incredibly sad. It was heartbreaking,” Hosanna said. “Urban ministry is a lot of all-hands-on-deck work, so our ministries had to step up to the plate in new ways. We could not have services the way we used to with the shutdown, but our food pantries were essential.”
Calvary Street Ministries, directed by Hosanna’s fresh “Emmanuel-ness” insight from the Lord, shifted and began doing more for their unhoused friends than in previous years.
“We expanded our food pantry teams. We added to the number of families we were feeding throughout the week. Our food pantry that provides food boxes to hundreds of low-income families, expanded and is still going strong,” Hosanna explained. “I cannot see it becoming less of an emphasis moving forward. We pivoted. We have to feed the city.”
Because of this experience, Hosanna is certain that the Church has an unbelievable opportunity to show the world what it is made of.
We Are the Only Help
“As the big DC Comics fan that I am,” Hosanna explained, “I thought, ‘This is the moment where I’m convinced someone else is coming to the rescue. I’ll throw up a bat signal and some millionaire is going to come and save us.’ But no hero is coming. The call is to the Church—listening to the needs of our community and trying our best to respond to those needs. It isn’t perfect. But we show up. We may fumble through it. But we are faithful. We are the only help here. Nobody else is coming.”
God chose us to be the leaders alive when this happened.
Where world systems seem to be falling apart at the seams, the Church has the tools to stitch life back together. The Church is the only faction in our society that can bring light to the darkness that has engulfed our lives this past year.
Hosanna gained further clarity about the Church’s direction when she sensed God speaking through Acts 1:8.
“Let’s go where we are. Let’s go a little bit further. Let’s go to people that don’t look or speak like us. And let’s go to the ends of the earth,” Hosanna said. “For people who are in ministry, for Church people, for ministers—we love going to the ends of the earth. But this verse reminds us of a sequence. First, we receive power from the Holy Spirit. Then we go. We’re all in. I hope we change the world.”
God Chose Us to Lead
Hosanna anticipates 2021 to be an exciting year for the Church. Even with life still being at somewhat of a standstill, Hosanna’s renewed perspective is allowing her to see clearly what the Church needs to do.
“Early in 2020, I felt God prompting my heart with 2 questions to ask Him throughout the year,” she recalled. “What do you want me to do? And what do you want me to say? It felt so simple at the beginning of the year. But when the pandemic started, it became clear that these questions were more important than I imagined. I want His voice to be the loudest voice guiding me. May it be His voice and His power guiding our churches.
“I can’t believe it’s us!” she continued excitedly. “God chose us to be the leaders alive when this happened. So let’s go!”
We hope that you are inspired by the stories in this issue of The Cornerstone. Thanks for being a part of God’s work to transform churches and lives.