When did you go to Taiwan?
I arrived in Taiwan on August 1st, 2009. After nearly 1 year in full-time language study, I moved to Taipei to begin working at the Pearl Family Garden. I stayed there until July 2013, when I went to Sydney to be married to Gus, my Aussie fiancé.
How long will you be in Sydney and what are your plans there?
My fiancé and I will be in Sydney for at least a year after our April 2015 wedding. In that time, my fiance and I will be entering the application and discernment process with OMF to be sent back to the field after our marriage. OMF advises newlyweds to take at least a one year break from the field after their marriage, to build a good foundation as a couple before being sent out again. Even if one or both newlyweds are already part of OMF, they have to go through the application process again, to rejoin OMF as a married couple.
Are you serving with OMF In Sydney ?
Yes. Until Gus and I marry and complete the application process with OMF, I am serving as Mentoring Coordinator on the New South Wales Mobilization Team. This team works to raise up and equip new workers for the fields in which OMF serves, and support our workers who are already there.
(Note to those those who are interested in details: Legally, I am still an employee of OMF-USA until my long-term visa to live and work in Australia is approved. Only then can I apply to join OMF-Australia.)
Are you still involved with the work in Taiwan?
Though my work with the Sydney team covers more fields than just Taiwan, I keep close contact with my colleagues in Taiwan, especially the Pearl Family Garden team, and pray at least once a week with others in Sydney who are committed to the work there. Please contact me through my contact page if you would like to join the Taiwan prayer group in Sydney, which meets once a month.
There is a TON of work that needs to be done in Taiwan, and we continue to echo God’s call for new workers! Check out the current work of OMF-Taiwan and service opportunities HERE.
Why did you choose to go to Taiwan?
Some factors in my decision:
- Seeing, especially through Scripture and various experiences I had in Taiwan, God’s love for the people I met, and His intention to heal and bring wholeness to their communities.
- Desire to be involved in community development in Wanhua, the low-income neighborhood where I will be based, and a sense of compassion concerning the brokenness and poverty there.
- Lack of Christian workers and presence in Taiwan, especially among those of working class background, who comprise 2/3 of the nation’s population. Less than 0.5% of working class people in Taiwan are Christians. For this reason, OMF (my sending agency), has focused its work on reaching the working class.
- The unique suitability of a person of my background (in culture, temperament, ministry experience, and particular convictions) for the work that OMF is doing in Taiwan.
- There are sharp barriers that keep people of working-class background in Taiwan from having access to the gospel.
- A strong sense that God is calling me to go there.
Brokenness and poverty? I thought Taiwan was rich.
Taiwan is, as a whole, rich (although not nearly as rich as the United States – see their comparative GDP’s here). Taiwan’s wealth has fed a culture of materialism that has grown bitter in the mouths of the Taiwanese. Many Taiwanese speak of the nation as being spiritually and morally bankrupt, as can be seen in the movies of the late Taiwanese filmmaker, Edward Yang.
Just as there are the haves and have-nots in the wealthy US, the same thing exists in Taiwan. My work in Taiwan will be in a low-income neighborhood of Taipei called Wanhua, where I stayed when I first visited the OMF team in Taiwan. The public housing projects are in Wanhua, and with concentrated poverty has come many of the social ills that we associate with our own inner cities. Wanhua is a center for gangs, prostitution, homelessness, drugs, and crime in Taipei. The conditions that Taiwanese associate with the working-class are particularly stark in Wanhua: juvenile delinquency, divorce, child abuse, dysfunctional families, and promiscuity.
Why are there so few working class Taiwanese who have heard the gospel?
Most Christians in Taiwan come from the middle or upper class. Taiwanese churches heavily borrow from Western culture and the culture of education. These factors create major barriers in reaching the working class:
- Language gap – Working class Taiwanese prefer to speak Taiwanese, while most churches in Taiwan use Mandarin Chinese, which is preferred by the upper classes.
- “Churches make me feel like a failure” – Taiwanese culture highly values education and performance in school is used as a measure of one’s value in society. Working class Taiwanese are not highly educated and consider themselves failures for that reason. Taiwanese men often call themselves “Taiwanese cows,” having no brains, only brawn. Being mostly middle and upper class, churches are filled with the highly-educated elite. Also, the services resemble a school lecture: the room is arranged in rows and the focus is a sermon. For these reasons, working class Taiwanese who visit churches commonly feel a sense of shame and inferiority.
- Literacy gap – Most working class people are not highly literate because they do not continue to read books after finishing their middle or high school education. Because reading Chinese requires you to know the individual characters that represent each word, one quickly loses the ability to recognize the characters once out of practice. Churches in Taiwan are book-heavy. When you walk in, you typically receive a bible, hymn book and the church bulletin… and spend the morning fumbling through a confusing combination of the three books.
More questions? Please feel free to contact me.
–Last updated Dec 16, 2014