Time for Taiwan?

Dear Praying Friends:In past issues of Reaching Chinese Worldwide, we have looked at the strategic role that Taiwan’s Christians can and do play in spreading the Gospel among Chinese around the world. For a variety of reasons, I want to return to this vital aspect of ministry to Chinese. I believe that now is the time to re-direct the attention of Christians to the strategic importance of Taiwan and its people. - Taiwan has been neglected in recent years. Since the opening of China and the realization that God has been doing a remarkable work there, most Christians have focused on that land. Mission agencies in Taiwan have closed down operations and switched their personnel to the Mainland. Even overseas Chinese believers have given up hope on Taiwan and have concentrated upon evangelism and house church leadership training in China. Some missions strategists consider Taiwan to be sufficiently “reached” or even adequately evangelized, compared with the hundreds of millions of those in China who have not yet heard the Gospel. They point to the existence of almost two thousand churches, 200,000 adherents, seminaries, publishing houses, bookstores, television broadcasting, and other signs of vital Christianity on the island. But they seem not to notice that - Though “reached,” Taiwan is not yet evangelized. Less than 2% of its 23 million+ inhabitants believe in Christ (actually, the percentage is closer to 1%, if we count only active Christians). In fact, most of these have never, ever, heard even a simple presentation of the Gospel. That’s a population greater than Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and Iowa combined! They do not know Christ; they have little way of hearing about Him. - Taiwan’s people are enslaved to worthless idols. Surveys have shown that more than 90% of this highly-educated populace believe in the gods of their ancestors. On special days, you can see them burning special paper money to spirits of the dead and offering food on altars to various “gods” at home, on the street, and in richly-ornamented temples. - Taiwan’s people are unhappy. You will not be surprised to learn that Taiwan’s millions, crowded into burgeoning cities, suffer all the ills of a life without God. Though materially well off, they are spiritually dead; emotionally starved; mentally confused; harried by the cares of life; broken-hearted by broken marriages. Their frenetic search for wealth has largely succeeded, but at a cost of the family, the soul, and personal peace. Crime has soared; drug use is on the rise; homosexual practice spreads; sexual immorality is commonplace; abortions are commonplace. Everywhere, you sense insecurity and fear, even as people trample the temple courts in a desperate search for “life.” On the other hand, - Taiwan is open! Unlike mainland China, Taiwan enjoys complete freedom of religion. Whereas the previous government promoted Taiwan’s “indigenous” culture and religions, the new president seems friendlier to Christianity and may even be a believer. - Foreigners may bear witness to Christ. Without fear of government surveillance or harming local believers, foreigners may live openly as followers of Christ and participate in church life with local Christians. - Taiwan is a great place to learn Chinese. Several language schools offer excellent instruction, even in Christian terminology, unavailable in China. - Taiwan’s relations with China have improved markedly since the recent election. Contacts between Taiwan and the Mainland are already expanding rapidly. More than a million Taiwanese already live in China; now traffic will flow in both directions. Thus, even if your goal is to reach China’s millions, Taiwan is an ideal place to start. - Taiwan’s time may be limited. Who knows how long this situation will last? China’s leaders, perched atop a very fragile and shifting mountain of power, could use any of several pretexts to “re-unite” Taiwan with the motherland. We don’t know what will become of religious freedom then. Your part: - Please pray for us as we seek God’s leading about how to play more of a part in Taiwan, where we already have three associates and many friends, and where all my books are published.