Breakthrough Dancing

A look at one of the most creative youth ministries in Hong Kong—if not the world

I came to Hong Kong's Breakthrough Youth Village expecting to find a small, creative media and publishing organization. Instead I found a sprawling enterprise seemingly without boundaries.

"People always ask me, what is Breakthrough about?" says Sookit Li, one of the veteran staff. "I've been here for a long time, and I can't say."

Physically, Breakthrough spreads across a four-story facility comprising dormitories, offices, and an extensive youth center. Over 230 Christian staff and many more young volunteers create books, movies, magazines and websites, gospel camps, a counseling center, and training institutes for teachers and youth workers. They have organized a New Year's "dance extravaganza" that attracted 30,000 people to a downtown street.

Breakthrough also created a popular action figure sold in shops known as "Mr. Match," as well as a book with extraordinary graphics that Hong Kong schools use to teach the aesthetics of public space. The creativity and variety are dizzying.

"We cannot just communicate with youth through the media," says Philemon Choi, a doctor who was instrumental in founding Breakthrough. "It has to be life touching life."

That philosophy explains the hybrid nature of Breakthrough. A media operation this large and sophisticated rarely conducts personal ministry, but Breakthrough Youth Village echoes with the shouts of the young people who live and play in the same building that houses corporate offices.

Last year's New Year's Eve "Dance Unlimited" was a stunning example of Breakthrough's cross-disciplinary approach. The idea came in response to the economic and psychological slump afflicting Hong Kong. The word dance also means encouragement in Chinese. Thus the event's name could be translated as "Encouragement ...

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July 2003

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