Double-edged 真理報雙語版

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A bilingual and bicultural Christian young adults blog //////////////// 青年華裔基督徒的博客

Encounters Part I: Taiwan

Iris

Two months ago, I was on a plane bound for Taiwan to begin my one-year journey away from home as a Partner of OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) to do part-time missionary work whilst “tent-making” as a children’s English teacher. Having never lived on my own before and being fresh out of university, I felt like I had been plucked out of my sheltered life and dropped into an entirely new world. I am currently a part-time teacher at an English school and a helper at a new church-plant in the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I’ve been pushed to learn Mandarin, to drive a scooter, and to look after myself.

Although I am missing home a lot and it takes a lot of energy to meet new people and to establish a new life for myself, the one thing that does not change is God. His character and His love for me remains constant. I’ve also experienced the love of God through the other partners of OMF and through the missionaries working alongside me. Having met all these strong Christians from all over the world has given me a taste of what heaven will be like!

Ministry in Taiwan is much more different than ministry in Vancouver. In the homogenous society of Taiwan, everybody lives by the Chinese practices of Buddhism and Taoism. Once every month, on the fifteenth of the Lunar calendar, businesses will burn incense and paper money to appease the gods and bring prosperity. People have huge shrines in their homes which blare out a red light from their windows late at night. Motorists have charms hanging in their vehicles for safety in their travels. Many of my students wear beaded Buddhist necklaces or a Taoist hexagon with the yin-yang symbol on it.

Since Buddhism and Taoism are heavily intertwined into the Taiwanese culture, being a Taiwanese Christian is not easy. Many Taiwanese Christians are the only Christians in their families, and parents are heavily against their children turning to such a faith. Hence many Christians secretly get baptized without their family’s knowledge until after the fact, when there’s “no turning back.” One of the young men I’ve met has been attending an outreach Bible study for the past two years. He believes in Jesus yet does not call himself a Christian because his mother forbids him to become one. Although there is religious freedom in Taiwan, the culture itself repels Christianity.

God has been teaching me a lot in the last two months. For one, my work situation has me living financially on the edge. Having never lived on my own before and barely eleven hours a week of work has proven to be rather stressful. I know that God is teaching me to rely on Him and to be humble before He can use me further. It’s a tough lesson, but God is good and He has nevertheless been providing for me.

Another lesson God has been teaching me is how easily academics can be a god in people’s lives. The Taiwanese value education above all else. There are tutoring schools everywhere, and parents enroll their children into extracurricular classes as soon as they can hold a pencil in their hands. Some children go straight to tutoring classes after school and stay there until 9 or 10 p.m. Although it is easy to shake our heads at the absurdity of such a lifestyle, many students in Vancouver have education as their idol. For example, youth group attendance always declines during midterm or final examination periods. And how many times have I chosen to stay home and study rather than spend time with non-Christian friends who needed me at the moment?
Leaving Vancouver has also taught me a lot. When I first arrived, I saw Vancouver as my comfort zone through the rose-coloured spectacles of homesickness. Now I see things from another perspective. I see the problems in churches and the conflicts between Christians, and how some are falling away and choosing the world over Jesus. Although I’ve always noted those problems when I was at home, they never seemed to bother me until now. Maybe it’s because I’m out of my comfort zone, and I’ve become more focused on evangelism and ministries. When I was in Vancouver, it’s common to have the perspective that a church is sending out a missionary into the mission field, as if the mission field is spiritually darker. However, now that I’m on the outside looking in, I realize that Vancouver is not as spiritually bright as we make it seem to be. There are so many people in North America that needs Jesus, and the devil is working just as hard in Vancouver as he is working in Taiwan. Therefore, let us not simply leave the job of evangelism to overseas missionaries or be seated too comfortably in our lives, Let us open our eyes to the need around us and be missionaries in our own city.

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Welcome

"Double-edged"is bilingual blog in affiliation with Truth Monthly, a Chinese Christian monthly print publication based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This blog features mostly original writings as well as comics, poetry, and other works of art by local Christian young adults.

For more information or to submit your own writing, please email tm.double.edged@gmail.com

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