October 2015 —
In 2002 OMF decided, to focus their resources on ministry to working class and marginalized peoples, as these groups remain largely unreached by the gospel. This year we reviewed our Five Year Strategic Plan. As we still face the unfinished task of making Christ known to the Working Class people, we affirm the goal of increasing the field size to at least 80 missionaries. Taking expected attrition into account, this will require an additional 5-10 new members each year over 5 years.
…. that drives us to our knees!
6 new missionaries, 1 interns and different SAWS have so far joined us this year. Most of them are currently going through the DANIEL TRAINING program with the goal “to be at home in the host culture, effectively relating to and serving alongside their focus people performing with competence in culture and language.” (DANIEL Training Newsletter, June 2015)
It takes time to find out that, despite Taiwan’s modern, high-tech cities and the obvious Western influence, it is still a deeply traditional society. Its people are steeped in idol worship, live in fear of the spirit world and are highly superstitious.
Culture and Language Learning is exhausting and humbling as well as interesting, stimulating and exciting. DANIEL learning even helps maintain our brain function! Adjustments in daily life, shopping, missing family and friends, typhoons, earthquakes etc. are challenging. Walking on the streets where people set up their tables for offerings, smelling the incense when neighbors are praying to their gods or worshipping their ancestors can be “a heart breaking experience” (comment of a new worker during Ghost Month). Worshipping with Taiwanese brothers and sisters in the Sunday services is a joy, but being for a long time unable to understand the sermons and have meaningful conversations afterwards is not a happy feeling.
The initial 2 years of DANIEL training are in a very special way a spiritual journey. This part of the missionary-journey can’t be skipped over. But despite language limitations and limited cultural understanding, new workers are channels of God’s love and a light shining in the dark alleys of Taichung. Their prayers for the people will always be heard by God. Love is a language which is always understood by everybody ~ the vegetable seller in the market, the bus driver, the recycling lady, the hairdresser or the neighbors little kid.
On this journey new workers discover in fresh ways the faithfulness of God and His mighty work in their own lives, they are so blessed! A gift of money comes in from an unknown person because she has heard about a specific and unexpected need of a new worker. The language teacher’s patience and love has been so encouraging. Somebody at church has a special interest in the new missionary and wants to spend time with her. The owner of the little noodle restaurant at the roadside puts an additional plate of vegetables on the table.
Taiwanese people are so friendly, so generous, so encouraging and so loving! Even a senior missionary (being on the field for 30 years), after making a minor language mistake feels loved and encouraged by the comment of a boy: “Teacher, just practice a bit more speaking Chinese and your language will improve!” This is so humbling but yet, knowing that “we can’t be too small to be used by God, but we can be too big to be used by God”, the joy of the Lord returns to the heart of the missionary.
Beate Harr, Taichung