Article By: Suzanne R. Holsomback
Angie French grew up in the small town of Marble Falls, Texas, went to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, attended George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, then moved to Hong Kong - a city of seven million people. She says it surprises her that she enjoys it as much as she has and how easily she adjusted and how much she has grown to love the city and people.
After graduating in 2005 with a joint degree from Truett and Baylor's School of Music, Angie moved to Asia to serve as the Minister of Music in Kowloon International Baptist Church in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong. She says she was "always interested in other cultures and other countries, and the idea of living oversees interested me." However, her educational background was in music and she did not see how her music degree could be used in missions or oversees living. Once in seminary, Angie had the opportunity to travel with Dr. Michael Stroope on an immersion trip in the summer of 2002. She says, "that was a turning point for me and I struggled for a couple of months after that thinking maybe I should drop the music degree and just go with the missions concentration...But I ultimately ended up staying with music, because that is what I loved the most, studying music."
During her mentorship in her final semester at Truett, Angie received an email from the pastor of Kowloon International Baptist Church inquiring if she would be interested in the Minister of Music position. She says, "I completely disregarded it because I knew nothing about Hong Kong and was not necessarily interested in Asia at that point, so I just filed that email away and didn't do anything with it." A few months later during a panicked conversation with a friend about future jobs, her friend commented that it would be a perfect situation if Angie could do music, live missionally overseas, and be both music and missions. Angie agreed it would be perfect, but believed it impossible. Then she remembered the email.
Angie says, "it had been a few months and I emailed the pastor and asked if this position was still open, still a possibility. He jumped right on it and began dialoguing over email, things just started happening really fast." The day after graduation Angie flew to Hong Kong to interview for the job and to get to know the congregation and city. By July, she had moved to Asia.
"It was a little bit of a difficult decision, out of fear and thinking this is a huge move and huge change in life and I am not sure if I am ready for it," Angie relates. But she says that everything during her May trip affirmed the decision that Hong Kong was where she needed to be. "I feel like the job had been tailor made for me and the church was great and the living accommodations were good. Everything about it was perfect for me."
Angie does say that there are unique challenges working in an international church. One challenge is conducting an adult choir in an English speaking church with twenty-five different nationalities. "They all pronounce words completely different, so trying to train a choir to sing together is a challenge." Another issue she faces is communication during disagreements. She continually has to ask herself if the miscommunication or frustration is the person's culture or if it is the person's personality.
The diversity of the Kowloon congregation is also a highlight for Angie. She says her favorite day of the year is in November when the flags from the nationalities represented in the church are displayed. She says that the country's names are called out and the people from that country stand as a visual recognition of the their presence in the body of Christ. Angie also says the greatest blessing is "getting to work with people who have completely different life experiences and backgrounds" She goes on to say, "there are just so many unbelievable stories about people and how they ended up coming to Christ from Buddhist backgrounds or Hindu backgrounds. So it is always exciting because there are new people coming in and out all the time to get to know and hear about and hear about their stories."
From a small town in Texas to an international church in Hong Kong, Angie's life and ministry continually surprise and challenge her. She says that most importantly though, the unexpected surprises bless and nourish her spirit.
More information about Kowloon International Baptist Church and Angie's ministries, please click here.