When we were in the U.S. the girls & I had a tradition since they were very little. On the way home from a fishing trip, we would always stop by at 7-Eleven to get a slurpee. Although it’s not much, my 2 girls loved it. They enjoyed it as a big treat and looked forward to it every time. They still hold on to the experiences as a fond memory of quenching their thirst.
Just imagine their surprise when we found out that there are 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan as well! We found that they are not the same as the ones in the U.S. though. None of them are attached to a gas station and they don’t have slurpee (to which the girls were quite disappointed), but I think that the ones here are better in many ways!
It’s better because 7-Eleven, also called “7” in Taiwan, offers a wide range of services. In addition to selling what you would expect at 7-Eleven, you can go there to:
- Pay your utility bills like electricity, gas, phone, etc. (there is no charge for these services).
- Pay your parking fees.
- Purchase train & long distance bus tickets.
- Purchase & replenish bus cards (which also work as a debit card at 7).
- Cash money at its ATM (it’s only 16 cents per transaction).
- Mail pretty much anything across the island, even frozen goods.
Also they all have seating areas with tables both inside & outside where people in the neighborhood can lounge around to talk & drink tea. You don’t have to buy anything. Some stores serve as a safe study area for students with snacks & bathrooms.
What is so amazing about “7” is that they are located even in rural & less urban areas to bring convenience to the people. Larger supermarkets can’t do that, not to mention there are only a few of them. Unless you live near the city, one cannot access these supermarkets, which makes 7 Eleven’s approach so ingenious! Instead of having people come to you, you go to where the people are to provide needed services. You may not be the biggest store, but you are definitely a relevant one. Therefore in Taiwan, “7” has become an essential part of many communities.
I can’t help but to think this is how church should be because the Body of Christ is meant to be fluid like a life-giving stream that reaches even the most remote areas to quench the spiritual thirst of the lost. It’s not about how many are coming to us or how big we become, but HOW we are reaching & improving the quality of life. Jesus never waited at the temple for people to come to Him. Instead He always went to where the needs were. He always met people where they were. As a result, hunger was satisfied, thirst quenched & lives were forever changed.
There are still only about 3 % Christians in Taiwan. Images of Taiwanese churches seen are often from Taipei, but they do not represent Taiwan as a whole. Although we find “7” at the least likely places, church we do not see.
As we pray for our future ministry in Taiwan, I can’t help, but to admire 7-Eleven’s success in reaching out to people all over Taiwan.