Team Scouts Partnership Opportunities in Taiwan
In May, a three-person team spent ten days exploring partnership opportunities with existing churches in Taiwan for future short-term mission teams. The team also distributed Bibles and other literature and served alongside International Mission Board (IMB) workers there.
“Taiwan is an open country and is relatively safe for teams to travel to and share openly with tourists and residents alike. By assisting local churches with outreach, evangelism, and service projects, we are helping to accomplish the Great Commission,” said Tim Rice, director of the Missions Mobilization Group with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
Buddhism is the prominent religion in Taiwan. Many people there also adopt the beliefs of Daoism, including family ancestry worship. When a person from this religious culture converts to Christianity, they become ‘dead’ to their families in light of the importance placed on ancestral worship. Yet, as the mission team discovered, there are many growing churches and new church plants in Taiwan, and increasing numbers of baptisms.
Team members Ron and Jane, former IMB missionaries to Beijing, used their language abilities to help move conversations along with people they met in Taiwan. The team spent an afternoon handing out Bibles in a beautiful park where tourist buses stop for breaks, and they had a number of exciting interactions there.
“I approached an older gentleman in the park and asked him in Chinese, ‘what do you believe in your heart?’ He responded that he was a member of the communist party. I said I understood because we lived in China before. I asked if he knew anyone who follows the God of the Bible, and he replied ‘one friend reads this book and understands it.’ So, I asked him to take a book to his friend and gave him another book. I told him the friend could also help him understand what was in the book,” Jane said.
The man quickly took the Bibles and then asked for salvation bracelets and tracts, too. He started distributing the Bibles and other materials to tourists coming off the buses who were more willing to accept Bibles from the Chinese man than they were from the team members. The team was able to distribute more than 160 copies of the Bible at the park, including passengers on a bus carrying members of an unreached people group who live near Tibet.
A cell phone photo from that day in the park is a fun reminder for team member Louie Matthews, member of Glen Rock Baptist in Fort Mill. “A Chinese man asked to take a photo of me with his phone after I gave him a Bible. Then I took a photo of both of us holding our Bibles. I have been involved in international missions for the last decade and love to give God’s word to people. The world is changing so quickly, and we know we need to do all we can while the doors are still open in these countries,” he said.
Jane met a tour guide who was waiting on a park bench for her group. Her foot was bandaged, so Jane started a conversation by inquiring about her injury.
“As we sat by a beautiful lake, I told her that I believed in one true God. He was the creator of all that we could see, and He made her, too. I told her how He loved her and died for her then asked what she believed in her heart. She was a member of the communist party but said she could keep the secret of Jesus in her heart for awhile. I believe it was a divine appointment,” Jane said.
“This trip was about sowing seeds. Some go to the right place and some are left, but we aren’t the ones to control that,” said Ron, who, with his wife, are members of East Pickens Baptist.
Prior to the team’s trip, the IMB contact in Taiwan identified pastors and existing churches that are actively pursuing the Great Commission so that team members could plan the work of future mission teams. One young pastor and his wife have celebrated 50 baptisms in the last two years through their church, Yan Ming Baptist. They are planting a new church in a fishing village with a population of around 200,000. The coastal village draws many tourists and is well known for its annual festival to a Chinese fishing god.
“This couple is planting a Southern Baptist church in Danshui and asked us to partner with them to host English summer camps and Bible distributions for tourists. The pastor said their mission is ‘to glorify God and plant churches;’ his vision is to see 50 small groups, and he already has leaders trained and ready to go,” Jane said.
For Ron, missions is a lifestyle he lives at home and abroad. “We are all missionaries, and sometimes you have to change locations. Every place is the same; there are people who are seeking, and we just have to find them and tell them about Jesus. He told us to go, teach, and baptize. It’s what the instructions are all about wherever we happen to be, whether in Walmart, or Beijing.”
“In Taiwan, we saw the vast lostness of the world. People of all religions are trying to please God, but they are blinded. My community in South Carolina is becoming more and more like the communities I’ve worked in. There is brokenness and lostness here and all over the world,” Jane said.
According to Rice, partnership and short term mission opportunities to Taiwan will begin this fall. “We plan to take another team to Taiwan the first part of September. Hopefully, many churches will get connected with IMB field personnel and national partners in order to begin partnerships that are ongoing. I’d be happy to share with anyone how they can join a team and be a part of this project,” he said.