I am still surprised by how little Christianity has impacted Taiwan. As I have explained last December, Christian holidays like Christmas are not celebrated by most Taiwanese. In fact, it’s not even a day off in Taiwan. It is seen more as a special day that comes from Western culture than anything else. Although it is still used by businesses for commercial purpose, its true significance definitely stays hidden.
Last Sunday evening, my family went to our local night market. While we were there we had a nice conversation with a young lady vendor whom we have gotten to know. That evening she finally asked us what we do for work so we explained that we are missionaries, but she replied honestly that she didn’t understand who missionaries are & what they do.
Yes, there are churches in Taiwan, especially in the bigger cities, but even in Taichung, other than a few established churches, most of the churches are relatively small & struggling. Not to mention, there is a tremendous shortage of pastors. Therefore many churches including our own do not have a pastor. Here are some other observations that we have made so far. First, it seems like Taiwanese churches get much influence from successful mega-churches in other countries, which are not bad models to follow, except that they are not very relevant to the working class who make up the majority of the Taiwanese population. 16 million out of 23 million are categorized as the working class. Grand sanctuaries, CEO like spiritual leaders & structured worship format may be more of a barrier to the working class who are really down to earth, relational & casual. As a result, most of the churches attract well-educated middle & upper classes leaving the working class unreached. Second, what is popular & regularly preached in churches right now is the prosperity gospel. Joel Osteen, therefore, is a very popular preacher & author in Taiwan. Prosperity gospel seems to coincide beautifully with eastern religions’ pursuit of blessings that is conditional. If I may share one more observation, in an Asian culture where one’s value is dominantly based on performance & achievement, the message of God’s grace sounds too foreign & goes against everything that they have pursued.
It is my opinion that what is needed more than ever in Taiwan is the undiluted truth of God. It is the undiluted truth of God no matter how foreign & offensive it may be, when it is accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit, that is when human heart is released & freedom embraced. This is what I believe to be our role as missionaries to share the undiluted truth of God in words (this is why we are devoting so much to learn Mandarin) & life (the reason why we live amongst the working class). I have to say it is a difficult task… a task that only God can help us to finish.
Presently we are not content at merely gaining more financial partners for our missions although we need them. What we are praying for is for more workers to join us in our endeavor to share the gospel in its purest form to the wonderful people of Taiwan. We want to believe that there is someone out there who’s been waiting to hear these words. Please pray about it, let us know & we will point you to the right direction.
Last Sunday & Monday, OMF in Taiwan reached out to local churches & leaders to celebrate our 150th anniversary in working with Chinese people as a way to reveal & remind them of God’s undying love for them. Although attendance was modest, it was truly an encouraging & inspiring time where we not only got to see Taiwanese lives already won for God’s kingdom, but also we were reminded of the task unfinished. Indeed “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Luke 10:2).”
Please pray for more workers to be sent to Taiwan to proclaim the gospel of our Risen Savior!