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March 2015

Americans in Kaohsiung

Sean and Amy are from Ohio, home of the Buckeyes. They are a husband and wife missionary team visiting our seminary to speak at our weekly meeting of the Student Missions Fellowship (SMF). Of course, we briefly talked about the Buckeyes historic championship title at the BCS Bowl Games. We can’t help it. OSU made history!

Sean and Amy are sharing about their work as OMF missionaries here in Kaohsiung working among the “working class” population of the country. These groups of people are the commoners, the street vendors, the truck drivers, the Taiwanese-speaking poor of the island. They make a strong case arguing that Taiwanese Christian churches are too sophisticated, too distant from the working-class people.  They point out certain characteristics of churches that would never draw in working class people. They cite the language used in liturgy (Mandarin, as opposed to Taiwanese of the working class), the culture of dressing up for church, or the manner of carrying a conversation (family dialogue versus the one-way monologue approach from the pulpit). I see most of the participating Holy Light seminary students agreeing with Sean and Amy. There is a great challenge of making Christian churches become more relevant to the 70% population of Taiwanese working-class people in the island.

As they concluded their talk and headed out for the door, I thanked them and also mentioned that they need to watch the NCAA March Madness games. Buckeyes were going to play that evening. Of course, I just had to mention how good the Kentucky Wildcats are doing this year. They were envious of course, because OSU is going to play a strong Arizona team and they do not know if the Buckeyes have the grit to finish this round.

So, the questions I have after our SMF meeting with Sean and Amy are: How relevant are our Christian churches in Taiwan in meeting the needs and circumstances of the 70% Taiwanese-speaking population of the working-class people? What challenges do we have here in Taiwan in mobilizing our local churches? What can the seminary do?

Mission Trip Lesson: God Provides

We are back in Kaohsiung. Leading a team of 18 people to a foreign country is a very challenging task, to say the least. I will spare you the boring details of booking hotels, buying tickets, arranging for taxi rides, budgeting daily meals, and other preparations. I left Taiwan with the Myanmar Mission team with a budget concern—a couple of hundred dollars short of our projected funds. While we were traveling, and even on the first day of our arrival, I was thinking of ways to save some money so that we can come home to Taiwan in one piece. I thought of suggesting to the team members to fast for one day. I thought of canceling one of our planned projects—the one where we paint the interior of the Bible college dormitory rooms. I thought about using my personal credit card and worry about the payment later, but I shelved that because it was a very foolish move. I thought about many “foolish” things, different ways to cut cost. In the end, everything was resolved. (I will tell you later what happened.) We came back to Taiwan with a $5.00 balance. Well, sort of. What I am trying to say is that our budget was just right. God provides.

God provides for His people. He has prepared the money even before we knew what we needed for this mission trip. At the start of this mission trip planning I was told by the pastors in Yangon to set aside $5.00 for every meal for each individual joining this mission trip. So, I entered that into my budget planning. After the seminary fund raising efforts, we were still short by $300.00 USD. I knew in my heart that God will provide for this need for three hundred dollars. So, I did not tell anyone. I did not mention it in my newsletters or wrote anyone about it. I thought that if God will provide, he will send me three hundred before the day of our departure for Myanmar. The day came and still no money. We were already on the air and still no word from the USA of an anonymous giver giving $300.00 to our bank. On our first day at the Yangon hotel, I started to worry, maybe panic a little, but obviously losing trust in our God’s provision for our mission trip. That is when I started thinking about the many different scenarios. I even thought of selling my Taylor guitar to pay for this mission trip. (Really, that thought came to me.) Well, in the end, we came through. What happened?

On the second day, I sat with our Yangon pastors and planned about our expenses for the whole ten days we are with them. They mentioned that it only cost $5.00 per person per day for our meals. What? Wait a minute! I thought you said “$5.00 per meal per person.” Five dollars a day! That means a little over $1.50 for each meal each person. What a relief! I went back to my budget and revised the whole thing. I found out I really did not need the $300.00 deficit that I was so worried about at the beginning of this mission trip. God provided for our needs. Amen! His provisions were right there “under our very own noses,” right there in front of us. God is so good!

This mission trip was not about the money. I shared to you my experience about God’s provision for our trip to Myanmar to illustrate the fact that our God cares about money. He will take care of the details. He will provide. We went on ahead with our planned time of ministry. Some of us taught at the Yangon (FM Chin) Light and Life Bible College. Some of us led a Youth Rally at the Rong Guang (FM Chinese) Church. Most of us divided into 4-5 different teams to minister to children, prayed with our leaders, visited other congregations. We even had two and a half days of working at the Bible college dormitory rooms. We had money to buy paint and brush and work on the walls, and even fixed the driveway bridge. We had extra money to buy some cement to use for this bridge. God really provides! In the end, we even had a couple hundred dollars extra to give as offerings to both the Free Methodist Chin Church and the Free Methodist Rong Guang (Chinese) Church. What a testimony of God’s provision! God provides for His people. Amen!