The spring of 2012 found Ruth and I preparing for home assignment in Canada and praying about where we would move after returning to Taiwan. Several communities seemed good possibilities. Then one day a friend told us they had an empty house in Qiaotou (one of the places we were considering), and offered it to us to for free. (“Just take care of it for us.”) Since the house had been empty for 9 years, in our minds we pictured an old rundown farmhouse! Nothing could have been farther from the truth. It turned out to be a very large, double width, 4-floor row-house, ideal for a ministry center on the first 2 floors, with room to live on the top 2 floors. That is how we found ourselves moving to Qiaotou in May 2013.
One of the men had been praying for two years that God would send someone to Qiaotou to start a church!
As we moved we prayed that God would lead us to Christians to partner with in starting a new church, and that He would open doors for us to meet people in the community. He abundantly answered our prayers. Within two months we had been introduced to two Christian families. Both families were travelling to churches in other communities, but wanted to see a church started locally. One of the men had been praying for two years that God would send someone to Qiaotou to start a church! He immediately introduced us to a local school, welfare society, and several other believers. This led us to teaching a couple of English classes at an elementary school and telling Bible stories at the same school one morning a week. We also began a 30-minute class at the welfare society on Saturday mornings. This same brother was keen to put a sign on our house and start Sunday services right away. I suggested that instead we could meet weekly to study the Bible and pray. I began meeting with him and also with the husband from the other family, but at 6 am a different day. (The only time he could make it!) Ruth also started meeting with several ladies at different times for Bible study.
After several months we all started meeting on Tuesdays for a meal and to pray and plan. God also sent a young man to work with us who is now a full-time seminary student doing his internship with us on the weekends.
After a year of building relationships in the community and with our new coworkers, God sent us short term teams from a church in the USA and a local church to help us run 2 summer camps in July with 50 children at each camp. After the camps we started a Saturday “Kids Club” which has had 20+ children attending ever since. Each month we have a potluck meal after the class and invite parents to join us with their children. This has been a great way to meet the families and we have seen newcomers attend each month.
God continues to bring people and open doors for ministry. An older lady has recently begun listening to Bible stories each week. A couple who run a restaurant come to our house for Bible study two mornings a week before going to work. Their daughter and son-in-law have recently believed and want to be baptized.