Magazine article The Christian Century

Grading Our Work

Magazine article The Christian Century

Grading Our Work

Article excerpt

Six years ago in New Haven, Connecticut, several hundred friends of Yale Divinity School gathered to honor four of the school's distinguished alumni. Nai-Wang Kwok was unfamiliar to most of us in the room. He had flown in from Hong Kong the previous day--his first time back to campus in 45 years.

Kwok, who is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), was on hand to accept the Lux et Veritas, an award given each year to an individual with demonstrated excellence and distinction in ministering with Christlike compassion.

By all accounts, Nai-Wang Kwok is an impressive figure. He has devoted his life to the Christian community in Hong Kong, advocating for human rights, democracy, and justice. In addition to writing or editing more than 20 books, Kwok spent years working in the slums and public housing projects of Hong Kong. He has served as general secretary of the Hong Kong Christian Council and founder of the Hong Kong Christian Institute.

After sharing laudatory remarks about Kwok, the dean invited him to respond, and he spoke briefly. A strong Cantonese accent marked his English.

"I see I have come back to receive my report card from my Yale education and experience. I find it is an A-, which means that I have done a number of good things, but clearly I have more work to do. Thank you very much for this honor." With those three sentences he bowed to the generous applause and sat down.

I have thought a lot about Kwok's beautiful words that day. This urban servant of significant stature had, in effect, graded himself not only on his accomplishments but also on the large, unfinished work remaining in his life. …

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