Nick Vujicic canceled appearance at a fundraising event for a Hong Kong church building expansion project; local Christians alerted him of the exorbitant costs associated with the “evangelistic and fundraising dinner” that violated the church’s doctrine of grace.
Born without any limbs, Vujicic (pronounced Voy-a-chich), an Australian evangelist and motivational speaker, was invited by Taipo Baptist Church as a speaker for their fundraising dinner. This is part of efforts to raise USD$38 million (HKD $300 million) by next year for an expansion that would accommodate 1,500 people.
The prices of the dinner are categorized for three different levels: USD$1,280 (HKD$10,000) each person for the most privileged "Grace" class, followed by “Joy” class, which costs USD$1,920 (HKD $15,000) per table, and “Peace” class, which costs USD $1,280 (HKD$10,000) per table.
Local Christians argue that salvation in Christianity is grace, which is freely given by God to everyone, and no one should do anything to earn it or make any exchanges for it.
“If this is an evangelistic event, then anyone should be able to come to listen to the gospel, not only the rich people,” a local believer commented.
Critics called the “Grace” class “costly grace” as the price is extremely expensive.
Apart from the price, the date of the dinner was also subjected to criticism, for June 4th is the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student massacre in China that is commemorated annually by hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong Victoria Park.
Shortly after, Taipo Baptist Church issued a statement of apology on April 24, and the senior pastor Woo-Ping Chu offered his “sincere apology for the damage done to the name of Christ.”
“It was inappropriate to combine the evangelistic event and the fundraising expansion, which blurred the nature and focus of the event that led to different class of the ticket prices,” Chu acknowledged. He said this was against its usual practice, because “preaching should be irrespective of classes and backgrounds.”
Chu explained that the event was not well planned, which led to “suspicion that our work was included to commercialization, and risked distorting the meaning of the Gospel.”