When thinking about ministry to Chinese people we immediately consider the needs of Mainland China. However, Taiwan is also a Chinese society of over 23 million people.
Read on to see why maybe you should consider ministry to Chinese people in Taiwan.
- Taiwan’s percentage of believers.
Operation World states that 2.5% of Taiwan’s population are evangelical Christians. Local statistics indicate however that only about half of these are regular church attenders. In contrast, the various estimates of China’s Christian population range from 5% to 10% of the population. In terms of raw statistics, Taiwan is less reached than China. In fact Taiwan is recognised as the only major Chinese society where there has not yet been a significant spiritual breakthrough.
- The unreached people of Taiwan.
The working class Taiwanese are less than 0.5% Christian. They number about 15 million people – two thirds of Taiwan’s population. They are an unreached people group, with a similar population and percentage of Christians to the largest minority group in mainland China, the Zhuang.
Most Christians in Taiwan are middle or upper-middle class, well educated, and comfortable speaking Mandarin. The working class are less educated, less open to ideas from the outside and much more comfortable using Taiwanese. These people are not being reached by the church in Taiwan. They are cut off by language, cultural and socio-economic factors. Many local church leaders confess that they do not know how to reach the working class people around them. There remains a great challenge of using bold and creative methods to take the gospel to the un-reached working class majority of Taiwan.
- Missionary decline
Taiwan still needs missionary involvement to help reach the working classTaiwan is an open country, allowing missionary work. However over the last 10 years there has been a rapid decline in missionary numbers in Taiwan – more than any other country in Asia. This is not due to an organised exit strategy in the light of a completed job, but rather through missionary attrition and because of the attraction of other mission locations.
- An open door
Taiwan has a wide open door for all types of mission work. Missionaries are free to publicly preach, teach and start new churches. There is no need to work in a secular profession or to be a student to gain access to Taiwan. It is an ideal place for those who are gifted and called to ‘full-time’ gospel work. It will be a tragedy if this opportunity is not grasped while it lasts.
- Spiritual darkness
Visitors from China often comment of the spiritual darkness and the hardness of people’s hearts in Taiwan. Ministry in Taiwan is difficult and fruit is hard won. It has been said that Taiwan has more temples per person than any other place in the world. It is an island soaking in an atmosphere of idolatry and superstition. Taiwan is politically open but spiritually closed.
This is even more of a reason why the gospel must be preached. It is the gospel itself which breaks down strongholds and softens hearts. Through exposure to the truth people are slowly brought to Christ. Without the willingness of faithful labourers to plough the hard soil and plant the seed, the harvest will never be seen.
- Buddhist mission
The spiritual darkness of Taiwan has influence beyond its shores. In recent years Taiwan has experienced a revival of interest in Buddhism and local Buddhist organisations have flourished. The largest of these have millions of adherents and are using their influence to build temples and monasteries overseas and spread Buddhism throughout the world. Taiwan Buddhist teachers and missionaries are attracting a significant following in many Asian and Western nations today.
- A door to China
Finally, although Taiwan is needy in itself, the winning of Taiwan may also have an impact on the church in China. Thousands of Taiwanese businessmen work in China. Taiwanese Christians are already active in ministry in the mainland, sharing the gospel, training leaders and producing literature. With a common language and culture, they are the best equipped to assist the church of China to grow and mature. A growing, healthy church in Taiwan could potentially have a significant impact on the spiritual future of China.
Do you have a burden to see Chinese people reached with the gospel? Then what about Taiwan? Could this be the place where the Lord wants to use you?