Andrew Chan Au-ming, 44, is the first Chinese dean in the 158-year history of St John's Anglican Cathefral. He explains how he joined the ministry and argues that materialism has become one of the biggest challenges facing the church in Hong Kong 'I was brought up in a third-generation Christian family in Hong Kong and I was one of two brothers. My aunt and my father wanted one of us to become an ordained minister. As a young boy, I didn't take it seriously. It was just the older generation's wish. The first time I considered becoming an ordained priest was shortly before my father died of cancer when I was 21. He was on his sick bed and I asked him if he would like me to be a servant of God, and he said he would be very happy if I considered it. He was an open-minded man. He did not order me to do things. He let me make my own choice. He said he was happy just to know that I would consider it. I forgot about it after his death and after the funeral I went back to my studies at Grantham College. After going on to study in Newcastle in Britain, I became a music teacher. I thought I could fulfil a kind of ministry by teaching music. I enjoyed training choirs and I enjoyed teaching music and planning the school's music curriculum. I thought I could pass on my faith to my students through the music and through the music lessons. A lot of western classical music is sacred. I knew a lot of young clergy. Some became good friends and they encouraged me to consider joining the ministry. One day, after a meeting up with these friends, my calling from my aunt and father suddenly came to my mind again. At first I wasn't sure if it was a calling from God. Sometimes we have our own wishes and thoughts and we are dominated by them. So I didn't know whether it was a calling from God. But I thought of something I read in a book called You Call Me I Am There. There is a passage in that book that says when you think you hear God's calling, you should take it as a 'yes'. If you take it as a 'no' you close the gate and God will not do anything more for you. If you take it as a calling from God, if you step forward, he will lead you. If it is not a calling, he will lead you another way. So then I seriously considered studying theology. I talked to my vicar and he was very encouraging. I went to theological college at the age of 29 and was very happy there. Sometimes I talk to young members of the church and some of them are potential ministers. I encourage them and I tell them the calling from God is quite often the calling from the church. God works through the church. The two main challenges facing the church today are secularism and materialism. If you talk to young people today, their priorities are different. It isn't finding a profession that they are interested in - their first priority is a career. In the 1960s and the 1970s, young people wanted to be doctors, lawyers and engineers. Nowadays they want to be businessmen. You can see the change. People are more materialistic. We have seen a great change since the 60s and 70s. When I was young, living was never easy. My family was middle class, my dad and mum were both teachers, and we lived in a small flat. But I had a very happy childhood. Although the flat was small we had a lot of space to play outside. From the 1970s Hong Kong had two golden decades and rapid economic growth and people became very rich. Then after 1997 we experienced a painful period. If we hadn't had the golden two decades, maybe people would be the same as before. But because people experienced those golden years, they felt they had lost our ability to control our fate. This feeling of not being in control made people worry because they couldn't see what the future would hold. It has been a very painful time for Hong Kong people and this is something we must overcome.'