Today I learned a new Chinese word, Gan Hsiang (感想), meaning, reflection. And this is how I will start my blog—a reflection on the past two months. The highlight of January to February 2009 is the visit of a group of friends from Illinois (USA). Below are my thoughts on their 2009 Short-Term Missions in Taiwan. I am writing this reflection primarily with the Taiwanese leaders in mind. My prayer is that, as a result of mission trips like this one, more Taiwanese Free Methodists will venture into cross-cultural work in Christian missions.
“Harvest in Taiwan: A Reflection.”
“Many of us have learned so many things from the Harvest team members—not only about the skills of leading worship, but also about their great attitudes in serving God.” Linda Huang, a member of JioChuTang FM Church, gave this observation. In the thirteen days that the Harvest team was in Kaohsiung, many Free Methodists witnessed God moving among these team members and with the people they were serving. This period of two weeks was filled with lots of music, times of recommitment to God, and an overflow of learning new ways to serve one’s local church. God was moving in a special way during these few days with the Harvest team.
There were six members who came to Taiwan last January 20 to February 3, 2009. Tim Price, the leader of Harvest, came with his brother Jackson Price. Theo Harden and his good friend, Willie Jones, were also here. They were joined by the husband and wife team of Justin and Abbie Aymer. They all came from five different local churches located in Illinois, USA. Currently, they are involved with Harvest Ministry Teams. Harvest has been in existence since 1996 with a mission to “equip young adults for ministry while providing a resource for the local church.” Every year, they go to different churches, conferences and seminars to lead in workshops and other training modules. They focus on the Praise and Worship ministry of a local church.
I first heard of Harvest when I was studying at Asbury Seminary (KY, USA). Tim Price was a student then at Asbury. In 1996, Tim graduated from seminary and later founded Harvest Ministry Team. Meanwhile, I came to Taiwan in 2005 to serve the Taiwan Free Methodist Church. Here, I saw God moving among the Free Methodist youth. I also witnessed many church leaders trying out new ways of worshipping God through the use of “Praise and Worship” music. It was then that I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be great if the youth and leaders of Free Methodist Church of Taiwan get connected with Tim Price and the Harvest Ministry Team.” So, after a year of many emails and phone calls, Harvest team came to Kaohsiung, Taiwan this year.
When Harvest was here, they went to the following churches and schools: FengShan FM Church, JuiGuang FM Church, JioChuTang FM Church, SanHe FM Church, as well as LongShan Elementary School at ChiKu (Tainan) and Morrison Christian Academy at TaiChung. They also spent time with Filipino churches, including Nantze Higher Ground Community Church and Tree of Life Church. In summary, there were over 32 local churches represented at all the Harvest training and workshops. One group in particular came all the way from Taipei, a six-hour travel by church van. During the Harvest training and seminars, Harvest members talked about “The Four Core Values of a Worship Team,” “The Heart of Worship,” and “A Vision and Mission for Worship Teams.” In addition, there were different workshops including topics on Guitars, Drums and Bass, Keyboards, Vocals, Songwriting, and Drama. All these topics were designed to help Christian leaders better their worship ministry in the local church.
“It’s a day of pure energy. I myself don’t want to stop singing every time the band starts to lead us in worshipping God. I am really encouraged to pray more for others.” Angela Gammad, a Filipina from one of the Filipino churches, gives this observation. Angela’s view is just an example of how people are so engaged during the ministry of the Harvest mission team. Whether Harvest members are teaching or singing, one can feel the Spirit of God moving. Everyone participates in every session.
Sophia Chang, from FengShan FM Church and one of the translators for the Harvest team, gives us a good summary of the short missions work of Harvest team here in Taiwan. “It looks like a variety of cross cultural ministries,” she writes. “What a great connection between so many churches.” It is this Christian connection we want to encourage among our local churches. It is my prayer that the Free Methodist Church of Taiwan will lead in this work of connecting different ministries together and joining various groups in one vision and purpose—the vision of worshipping our Living God. Maybe we can start with our local church music and worship ministry. Perhaps we can continue what Harvest Ministry Team already started. Sophia continues, “I am so glad to have the chance to learn more about missions work to different places and different peoples.” Indeed, God is working in Taiwan. ** **