Friends World Committee for Consultation - Europe & Middle East Section

Pre-Triennial study booklet: Being Faithful Witnesses: Serving God in a Changing World


13. Faithful Witness

Kenneth Co Hong Kong Monthly Meeting

What should non-proselytizing Quakers do in a changing world to be faithful witnesses? As men and women of faith, we seek to know what it means to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves. In other words, we seek to know what the presence of God means in our lives, since it is only in our daily struggles of life and death that our beliefs about God come to life. As active bearers of faith and witness, we must be people who have seen extraordinary things happen in the mundane, people to whom the example of Jesus is important because we want to follow that example and live that kind of life. To follow Jesus is to live in the light of love; we need to share the light we receive with the world.

Being faithful witnesses means putting what we believe into action. Although the Religious Society of Friends does not have creeds, we do have testimonies. These are simplicity; speaking the truth; and adopting a life-style of peace and non-violence.

Simplicity means putting some different priority or order in our lives: simplifying our life-style so that what is most important – being close to God and knowing what God’s purpose in our lives is and acting according to these principles – takes effect. Speaking the truth means adhering to the truth even if at times it makes us unpopular, takes away the advantage of profit or puts us in material distress.

Finally, living a peaceful and non-violent life is far from easy, especially in the post-September 11 world, when so much rhetoric equates patriotism with goodness and when speaking out against the established doctrine is regarded as unpatriotic and, therefore, as siding with evil. One of our members, Steven Palmquist, wrote in a recent article in the South China Morning Post:

We should never again speak impersonally of terrorism – as if eradicating it would bring peace – but of the real human terror created by all forms of violence. Solving problems by violent means always defaces the humanity of both parties. . . Principles such as non-violence are not merely nice but impractical ideas, they are powerful principles that are meant to be lived. The more people live them, the more hope we have of lasting peace.

There are a myriad ways of being faithful witnesses. I have a doctor friend who at age fifty gave up his medical practice in Seattle to become a full-time missionary in China, training local Chinese church leaders to be better Bible-study group-leaders. Another friend of mine with a Master of Divinity degree is giving up his stable position as a teacher to join Amity Foundation as a volunteer teacher in interior China. These are examples of people heeding the call. But no matter what way one is called, it is the answer to an inner Voice, a life of service in which one goes out and walks cheerfully over the world, meeting that of God in everyone.


- What do we do to speak the truth and live out our Quaker principles in daily life?

- How do we speak truth to those in positions of power and authority?

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