Time for Taiwan

Dear Praying Friends:

Current Crisis

The passage of a new law requires the government of China to intervene with force if Taiwan makes a move towards independence, and even if it delays the unification process. Clearly, the Communists mean business. They have repeatedly refused to renounce the use of force to compel the island to “return” to the “Motherland.” This new law, along with other statements and moves, got the attention of Taiwan’s leaders. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, the president and his chief opposition rival made a joint statement. Clearly, the clock is ticking in the Taiwan Straits. War, or some variation of it, such as a blockade, cannot be ruled out. Neither can American involvement in such a conflict. The consequences would be disastrous, of course. Not only would American forces probably suffer defeat if they tried to intervene, but the security of all of East Asia would be thrown into turmoil. For the residents of Taiwan, a communist takeover would lead to loss of sovereignty and inevitable reduction of freedoms.

True Freedom?

But are Taiwanese already really free? Less than two percent actively follow Jesus Christ. The others worship a variety of idols, with the common focus on material and earthly prosperity – Mammon. Even Christians are caught up in the rat-race, as we saw in our last letter about Taiwan. As a result, despite great zeal and constant evangelistic effort, Christians and their Gospel have yet to make a profound impact on the vast majority of people. Even if all true believers shone clearly as lights in that dark society, and served as salt in a decaying culture, their few numbers hinder them from influencing the entire population.

Taiwan’s Spiritual Needs and Claims

In the 19th century, Hudson Taylor wrote a little book entitled, China’s Spiritual Needs and Claims. That vast nation still deserves the close attention of the church worldwide, and calls for the utmost efforts to spread the Good News among her 1.3 billion people. At the same time, Taiwan should not be neglected. Sadly, it has been. Most foreign mission agencies have largely diverted their energies and resources to Mainland China. Even Chinese Christians have turned their eyes away from Taiwan. For example, I was told recently that the U.S.-based Formosan Evangelical Church has no real strategy for reaching Taiwan. Instead, they try to mobilize workers to reap what seems to be the ready harvest in China. Aside from questions about the efficacy of much evangelism in China, and the dubious nature of many of the “conversions” reported there, we should still remember both the crying needs and great opportunities for the Gospel in Taiwan.

Help Wanted!

The Christian church in Taiwan, though small, possesses a maturity and sophistication characteristic of the entire society. Thus, some sorts of foreign missionaries are no longer needed as much as they used to be. My former seminary, for example, is now almost entirely staffed by well-qualified Chinese faculty. On the other hand, other doors remain open. Here are a few: Student work. Yes, the Campus Evangelical Fellowship fields dozens of fine workers, but they would welcome a few highly-qualified foreign co-workers. More than that, the university and high school campuses desperately lack Christian witness from teachers and fellow students. Foreigners with a good grasp of Chinese language and culture could make a significant impact.

Grass-roots Evangelism

Most of Taiwan’s Christians come from the middle and upper classes. Thus, only a tiny minority of the great majority of workers have heard the Gospel. Some Christian groups, including OMF International, have a burden to reach these millions of laborers in factories, shops, and service centers. They would welcome dedicated helpers. Visit http://www.omf.org/taiwan/.

English Teachers

If you want to make an immediate difference in Taiwan, consider going to teach English. Several large “chain” schools regularly hire native English speakers from different countries, but American English is most wanted. University graduates can also fill other openings. Some of these pay enough for you to work off college debts quickly. Write us for more information.

Language learning comes first!

Regardless of whether one intends to serve in Taiwan or Mainland China, a sound knowledge of the language is essential. For a variety of reasons, Taiwan is perhaps still the best place to study Mandarin. Two of our interns plan to leave in September to begin that arduous task.

Keeping Up

Personally, I find that the easiest way to learn about ministry in Taiwan is to read the Taiwan Mission Quarterly. Subscribe by writing tmftmq@mac.com. You can follow the latest news by reading a local newspaper: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/.

Join the Team!

If you sense a burden for the neglected people in Taiwan, please let us know. Yours in the love of the searching Shepherd, Wright