Locked down for good

Thomas Kwok Chuek Hang (Hong Kong), MDiv Teaching & Exposition


When Singapore went into ‘Circuit Breaker’ on 7th April 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19, Thomas Kwok’s world was turned upside down and inside out.

“All schools, offices, and eating places were closed,” says the Information Engineering graduate from Chinese University of Hong Kong. “We couldn’t go out except to do basic essentials like getting groceries and doing exercises.”

So, to escape from being cooped up in the dorm, Thomas took to exercising outdoors every day. This developed into a routine that made all the difference to his final days at EAST.

Thomas, 27, is the kind of student every teacher will notice: conscientious, curious, and simply clever.  For his High School Public Exams, he was among Hong Kong’s top 0.1 % scorers.

To his classmates, he is Mr go-to for help in studies. “And he does it willingly,” says Haime, his dorm mate. He is also multi-gifted – music, photography and cooking – and a natural leader. “He makes sure we keep the dorm spic N span,” adds good friend Yutaka.

On the field, he is a passionate cross-cultural minister. Prior to EAST, he spent two years as a missionary in East Asia.  For school practicum, he reached out to Nepali migrant workers, conducted church Bible training, and taught the Psalms to village church-planters in N India.

But he struggled in his inner life – especially in the months leading up to the national lockdown –Thomas confides. “I was stressed by what was happening back in Hong Kong, my lifestyle was imbalanced, and my social relationships suffered.”

The self-professed ‘introvert’ reveals that the lockdown put a welcome pause to his “messy” life, and gave him some relief.  “For one thing, I didn’t have to say, ‘No’ to socials,” he says with a smile. “And it got me back to Center.”

Because he exercised daily, he slept better; and as he lost unwanted weight, he ate healthier. During the four-week phase one Circuit Breaker, he spent extended and unhurried personal time alone with God, in the Word and the outdoors enjoying nature; and God restored healing and joy to his soul.

“I started to call my parents back in Hong Kong regularly, unlike before; I became creative again, and had many sermon ideas, which I was giving online regularly. I enjoyed better relationships with my school mates, especially the guys at the dorm; and I found fresh courage and perspectives towards my future.”

Thomas ‘future’ includes further studies in Hong Kong to prepare himself to be a ‘shepherd teacher’, especially for the mission field where sound theological education is needed to grow healthy churches.

And the definition for ‘shepherd-teacher’? “One who is more passionate about helping his students learn than covering a curriculum, one who is faithful to educate and care for his students,” he replies in a heartbeat.

And he feels that he has met such teachers at EAST, such as “Dr Keith and Dr Lewis.” “They’re highly qualified,” he adds, “yet are humble and passionate about what the Lord has called them to do, even raising their own support to teach us.”

“And Dr Chin Hong, my Hebrew professor,” continues Thomas. “He is very skilful and knowledgeable but he keeps trying new ways to help us learn.  He is a teacher who cares; that’s what I want to be.”


The above article is written by Dr Lau Ying Kheng in EAST 27th Commencement Magazine and has been republished with permission.  Thomas Kwok has also been awarded the Academic Excellence Award and Communication Award at the 27th Commencement.

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