I arrived in the quiet town of Donggang nine years ago. I sat in the park almost every afternoon and became a familiar face.
I met Ah Hui with whom I shared many Bible stories. Later, I met my haircutter, Ivy, who read the Bible with me at her shop. In the small market, vendors were curious about me. I hopped from one stall to the next to tell a Bible story. Ah Chun, Hui Juan, Mrs. Li, Ah Hun, Ah Li, Zhi hui, Xiu Bi became my friends. When I arrived from attending a seminar, Ah Chun fetched me at the bus stop with her motorcycle. I went to Mrs Li’s place, played with the children and talked about Jesus to her.
During my second term, a local partner connected me with Ah Man. Once, Ah Man and a grandma urged me to go to the temple in the morning since there will be throwing of candies. I replied that God once rained bread from heaven. I shared the story of God’s provision to save. Ah Man prayed to believe in Jesus. But Ah Man often says they have traditions, such as ancestor worship, that they must follow. Like the rest of my friends, this is their major obstacle. When I returned after home assignment, I lost touch with Ah Man and her customers. She had closed her shop. I could only rest in the thought that God was faithful in building my friendship with Ah Man. I believe He will also be faithful in drawing Ah Man to Him. Now, I hear Ah Man’s daughter’s boyfriend is a Christian.
Other friends also moved. Xiu Bi was gone then came back. I chat with her, give her tracts, and sometimes help her pack up while she sells vegetables. In the Big Market, I met Yan Rong, a fruit vendor. Yan Rong wants to believe in Jesus, but she cannot let go of her traditional faith and practices. She desires to bear a child.
On the quieter side of town is the store that sells Philippine goods. There I met many Filipinos: wives married to Taiwanese for more than 20 years, caregivers, factory workers and fishermen. We had a fellowship meeting. When I returned from Home Assignment, however, they ignored my presence and quietly play cards in a closed room. A son agreed to read Bible stories with me for several weeks. A runaway wife willingly sat with me for prayer. She was in distress with her seemingly impossible situation. But with God, nothing is impossible. Praise God, others are returning. Now, five join me.
In my latest neighborhood, I met Judy, a caregiver. At first, Judy resisted hearing from the Bible saying she is a good Catholic. Judy speaks my hometown language, and she poured out her bad experiences. I shared about Joseph in the Old Testament. I felt her joy and hope. I have met her employers’ relatives. I pray, they become my friends, too.
I enjoy my Sundays at the Mandarin church. Many Filipinas have visited this church and seven of us regularly worship, do quick Bible storytelling and small group fellowship, cook for the lunch fellowship, lead worship on certain Sundays, join the church Bible study, and prayer meeting.
God’s word has been spread in this town. People who cross our paths come and go. Different emotions fill my heart: sadness, disappointment, discouragement, and joy. Praise God for His sustenance. My prayer is for God’s Word to remain in the hearts of my friends; that they will grow and bear fruits, fruit that will last.
One plants, another waters, God gives the growth. Lord, let it be.
– Nancy Elumba, Church Planter
(Donggang, Southern Taiwan)