Mission to Taiwan

July 10, 2012

With the onset of summer break, Westminster students take the much-needed time either to go home and relax or to work in churches and ministry organizations, gaining on-the-ground training.  Some students also take the opportunity the break provides to go on short-term mission trips.  Isaac Lai, an M.Div. student in the pastoral ministries track, will be doing just that.  He will go with his church (Chinese Gospel Church, to Taiwan from July 7th to the 23rd. “My church is mainly comprised of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants and immigrant families, so it’s fairly cross-generational.  A lot of their friends and families are back in China and Taiwan, so they’ve always had a desire to go back to share the gospel with their friends and family, their countrymen, but they haven’t been able to.”

Isaac will be going with a group of about a dozen people from his church, and they will be assisting a small church plant run two kids’ Bible camps in Jiali and Taichung (see map below).  “The church isn’t very big, about 50-70 people, mainly young professionals. Though it is small, the church has a heart for church planting, so they have already planted a sister church in the Jiali village, and they’re hoping to plant another church in the working-class section of Taichung.”

The church expects that about 200 kids will come out to the two camps, and Isaac is eager for the opportunity to spread the gospel to the people there. “In Taiwan, the rural and the poor populations are the ones least evangelized.  Some of them have never heard the gospel before.  In Taiwan itself, a very small percentage as a whole is Christian…The families in Taiwanese culture are very connected, so if you get a foot in the door of the family, when you visit the family you can speak with all the aunts, all the uncles, the grandparents, the grandkids, everybody, it’s a way into peoples’ lives.” However, Isaac’s hope is not that his team would supplant the work of the church, but that he would support  it: “The biggest goal for us is to help them do their work; we want to encourage them, support them, and not be a hindrance to them.  Their work on the ground is what’s most important.”

Religion in Taiwan is mostly comprised of Chinese traditional religions, as well as a growing number of Buddhists.  Isaac comments that, “Taiwan is like ancient Babylon in some ways, or Athens in Acts 17 where there is gross idolatry.  It’s metropolitan, and [Taiwan’s capital] Taipei is a big city—it’s industrialized, it’s modernized, it’s very postmodern— but there are idols everywhere.  Christianity has been in Taiwan longer than it has been in America, and still only 6-7 percent of the country is Christian, and even less than that is evangelical.  Most of them are Pentecostal, or some sort of hybrid of Catholicism and folk religions.  You get a lot of Christian cults in Taiwan that claim they do many miraculous things. Unfortunately, they really lead people astray,  so it really makes the soil harder for everyone else.”

He continues, “people are really afraid of bad spirits coming back to haunt them.  That’s a very foreign type of fear to Americans, but it’s real in Taiwan.  [My prayer is] to see that the gospel is so rich that it speaks even to that.  Christ has overcome Satan and all his evil powers, so there is real security, there is real peace in Christ, and these are a point of contact to tell them about the forgiveness of sins, union with Christ, and all the benefits therein.  If I’m struggling with the fear of demons haunting me daily, and my life is structured around that, (and in Taiwan, life is kind of structured around warding off demons—the rituals that they do are all about keeping away the bad spirits), if that fear is what’s gripping me, then Jesus Christ is again the only thing that will free me.” Isaac’s hope is that his team can bring the gospel in this environment, and that God’s Spirit would work through them to bring about change.

He is also praying that God would prepare him for the task of leading and shepherding the team going to Taiwan.  “In the last half-year or so, the weight of that [responsibility] has grown, along with the realization that I’m not capable in myself….At the same time, I’ve come to know the sufficiency of Christ’s shepherding, the sufficiency of his grace for me, that somehow he takes an imperfect, broken instrument like me, and promises that he’s going to use me to lead his sheep closer to him.  I rest in that.”

Isaac feels blessed to have a great team of people going.  Please pray for Isaac and our student body this summer as they continue to serve the Church wherever they go, proclaiming the whole counsel of God.

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