As we sat down for Bible study, I was excited to open God’s Word with Jacky. Since he was unfamiliar with the Bible, I had him read the Scripture passage out loud. I was so excited that a completely unreached person was reading the Bible! After all, this is what I came to Taiwan for! But when Jacky finished reading the passage about God creating the world, he looked up at me and asked, “Do you like pancakes?”
My heart sunk. Jacky wasn’t interested in God at all, hence the quick subject change. It wasn’t long before I realized that Jacky was only at our Gospel center because he was lonely and wanted to make new friends.
But would our Christian community prove to be more enticing than the local alternatives? Apparently not.
After our Bible study, Jacky asked me for a ride on my scooter to the local temple. I was hoping he was just using the temple as a reference point to somewhere else he needed to go nearby – like the basketball court. But I was wrong. The temple was having an evening banquet, and Jacky didn’t want to miss out on a night of good food, good fun, and girls.
Jacky and temple activities
A few weeks later, I saw Jacky walking, talking, and laughing with his friends in a god parade as the local idol was carried down the street. In Taiwan, we’ve seen the influence of the temple activities. Some times the pressure comes from the basic unit of community in Asian society, the family.
With acts of love and mercy, we plead with our Taiwanese friends to “Come” to Jesus. Are you weary or burdened? Do you want to find true rest? “Come!” (Matt. 11:28). Are you thirsty, perhaps craving the free gift of the water of life? (Rev. 22:17). “Come!” Are you feeling guilty for your sins and longing to be set free? Listen to what the Bible has to offer: “Come…though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.” (Is. 1:18).
The missionary pleads with people to “come,” but the power of an alternative community tells them to “go.” “Go” away from church. “Go” away from all that God has in store for you in Jesus.
Will they come?
As church planters, the need to have an authentic, vibrant, Gospel-driven community presented as an alternative for people like Jacky has never been greater. There is power in Christian community for conversion. But how do you find a Christian community in an area of Taiwan that’s only 0.3% Christian? Especially in rural areas, churches are often non-existent, small in size, or lack young Christian families.
Pray for missionaries to have wisdom as we seek to build Christian community in our new church plants. Pray for new church partnerships. Pray especially for Taiwanese Christians and churches to share this burden to make authentic church life a priority in their busy schedules, for God has called us not into isolation but into a new community.
In a modern age where it’s possible to watch the Christian channel Good TV or other Christian programming on the internet, more and more people are asking, “Why bother going to church at all if I can just listen to a sermon at home?” May God open all of our hearts to see the necessity of His church community. And may this church, with one voice, call to all those living in outside to “come.” Come to the light of Jesus Christ. And maybe we’ll even make some pancakes.
– Thomas McIntyre, Church Planter
(Sanhe, Zhongpu Township, Chiayi County, Southern Taiwan)