Religion

  • 11 Jun
    The Doctor’s Temple

    The Doctor’s Temple

    In Taiwan, there are numerous temples and all kinds of gods. Each god has a specific purpose and power. As new missionaries with OMF in Taiwan, we recently visited a temple that is dedicated to health and Baosheng Dadi, a medicine god. This god was a doctor during China’s Song dynasty. I call this temple “the doctor’s temple.”

    In front of most temples in Taiwan is a large gate, which symbolizes the entrance to a spiritual realm.

    Outside of this temple, there is a hotel for those visiting from out-of-town. In front of the temple is an oven to burn money for deceased relatives and a large table to leave offerings on, fruit or other food.

    Like other temples, this one has three doors. People enter through the door on the right (known as the dragon door) and leave through the door on the left (the tiger door). The central door is reserved for the god’s use.

    Inside, Taiwanese troubled by sickness seek help and/or advice from Baosheng Dadi. In early days, the temple staff even wrote prescriptions. But today there are laws that forbid this. So, Taiwanese ask the god for advice on which hospital to go to for doctor appointments and surgery. Many people also ask Baosheng Dadi for healing.

    People often donate money to the temple in an effort to obtain the god’s favour. This is regarded as a simple trade. If I give you this money, you’ll give me what I ask for.

    As new missionaries, we are new to Taiwanese culture as well as to Taiwan’s languages. We want to deeply understand the worldviews and beliefs of the people we live among. Visiting temples like this one is a good way to learn about Taiwanese perspectives on religion.

    – Chris, Culture & Language Learner

    (Taichung, Taiwan)

  • 06 Jun
    Ramadan

    Ramadan

    In this video you can experience what it means to observe a day of Ramadan from morning until evening.

    By commsassist Islam Religion
  • 04 Jun
    Marking the End of Ramadan: Happy Eid

    Marking the End of Ramadan: Happy Eid

    “Eid-al-Fitr is the three-day festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan for my family and thousands of other Muslim families in China.

    The Best Clothes

    Early on the first day of Eid-al-Fitr I will lead the family in ceremonial washing, after which, for this very special day, we put on our best clothes. Soon it will be time to go to the mosque for communal prayers. I will be taking my eldest son XiangRong as I did last year. But this year XiangJun, who turned 12 a few months ago, will be joining us as well since he has been fasting for the first time this Ramadan.

    Giving Earns Rewards

    After the prayers and talk from the imam of the mosque we’ll head home, greeting everyone with ‘Mubarak’ (blessings) and ‘Assallamalaikum’ (Peace be with you). On the way, I’ll also give money to the poor who are lined up on the streets outside the mosque. This is my ‘zakat al-fitr’, giving alms, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. The five pillars are the required practices of my religion. My giving shows gratitude to Allah for his provision last year and, I trust, for the coming year also. I believe my giving earns spiritual rewards too, that will enable me to reach paradise.

    The Best Food

    While my sons and I are at the mosque, my wife, LiJuan, will have prepared some of our traditional and favourite dishes. Ones like Nao Nao, flour powder cooked with bean curd, some vegetables and beef, Shou zhua rou, which are large pieces of boiled mutton that we eat with our hands, and momo, a big round bread baked in our oven. After our delicious meal, I will bless the family. First blessing my own grandparents and parents, then my children. The children get small gifts of money from my wife and I and their grandparents.

    Setting an Example

    By observing Eid-al-Fitr I am setting an example for my sons to follow after me, so their sons can follow their fathers’ examples. For the second and third days of Eid-al-Fitr the whole family will visit our relatives’ homes for meals. After each meal we also give some cash gifts to their children. There is always lots of laughter at this time! Before I have to go back to work, I will go round to our non-Muslim neighbours, who we know well, and give them some of my wife’s cooked Nao Nao and mutton to bless them and wish them a happy Eid-al-Fitr.”

     

    This originally appeared in OMF UK’s Billions magazine ‘Meeting Our Muslims Neighbours’ May-August 2019.

    Will you pray for East Asia’s Muslims?

    • Celebrating Eid-al-Fitr is an important family time. Pray for God to bless family relationships.
    • Pray for Muslims who may have learned more about Jesus during Ramadan to have more opportunities to learn of his love.
    • Many Muslims will try and keep up habits formed in the fasting month. How could you pray for God’s blessing on East and Southeast Asia’s Muslims beyond Ramadan?

    Pray

    Pray for God’s blessing on East Asia’s Muslims

    Learn

    Learn more about East Asia’s Muslims

    Serve

    Find opportunities to love and serve East Asia’s Muslims

    By reubeng Islam Silk Road People
  • 04 Jun
    A real Chinese New Year in Taiwan!

    A real Chinese New Year in Taiwan!

    Arriving

    My Taiwanese friend kindly invited me to her mother’s family’s home for the second day of the new lunar year. This is a day when women traditionally visit their family.

    The major event is a meal celebrating the new year. On reaching the house, I realised this wasn’t going to be an inside meal when I saw a large tarpaulin being set up outside by several men of the family.

    As is the custom, I brought a gift. I found some nice nuts at a new year’s market. My friend mentioned that in previous years it had taken her mother a day or two to prepare the meal and she came early to assist her. But this year because of the crowd, she had the meal catered. There were around fifty people there.

    Shows a new worker playing monopoly with a friend's family during Chinese New Year

    Games

    At first, we sat in the living room, where we played a Taiwanese version of Monopoly. The family tried to include me. They had to do a lot of explaining. While we were doing this, my friend’s son walked around with a lucky draw cardboard box with compartments laid in a grid. My friend’s son collected money from family members, who were then allowed to poke a hole into a compartment and take out a candy. One aunt had to try twice when her first attempt uncovered a note saying, “Jiayou!” (Keep trying!)

    It was a hot day. But once the food arrived, the pavilion tents provided some shelter. We started eating around midday and the meal lasted an hour and a half. It ended with ice cream. There were many dishes, including hot pot, fish, meat, and vegetables. My friend’s mother walked around the tables toasting everyone with the customary, “Gan bei!” and ensuring everyone was enjoying the meal. There was no danger of anyone going home hungry!

    After the meal, some of the elderly played various games. One was called “Four Colours.” Another was a game with dice. There were several attempts to explaining the game to me, but I never did understand the rules. My friend told me this is a common activity at Chinese New Year. Someone else mentioned it’s a way of determining if the year ahead will be lucky or not.

    Chinese New Year banquet in Taiwan

    Family

    Everyone was warm and welcoming! As a family, they usually speak Taiwanese. But they tried to remember to speak Mandarin, so I could understand some of the conversations. Several people asked whether I was comfortable and checked to ensure I enjoyed the food. I was also asked why I had come to Taiwan.

    Many of the family members live fairly close to my friend’s mother’s house. At the end of the day, several people simply walked home or had a short drive.

    The Chinese New Year celebration in Taiwan has some resemblances to Christmas festivities in the UK – the family gatherings, the large meals, and the activities and customs unique to this time of year. It was pleasant to witness family members catch up with each other. There was an exchange of news and a lot of chatting. It was a pleasure to be a part of this celebration. I am grateful for the invitation to spend such an important day with my friend’s extended family!

     

    – Sarah, Language and Culture Learner

    (Taichung, Taiwan)

  • 04 Jun
    Miss Liu – What it’s like to teach missionaries

    Miss Liu – What it’s like to teach missionaries

    What it's like to teach missionaries

    I have been working as a language teacher for nearly twenty years in Taiwan. I love my job and I’m much obliged to all the language students of mine, especially the dear missionaries from OMF.

    The OMF missionaries spend the beginning of their time in Taiwan learning the languages. How blessed I am to meet them when they first come here! I may have taught those missionaries some language skills. But I have also learned a lot about God and His love from them, which is very important and precious to me.

    Through my time teaching them, I’ve gotten more experienced in teaching Mandarin and Taiwanese, and I’ve become more patient and calmer. I have much more self-confidence as a language teacher than I did when I first started. These are some of the great benefits to my job!

    The best part is that I can ask the OMF missionaries questions about Christianity and the Bible. Their answers always inspire me to get closer to God and help me grow in my faith. I’m grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful job! May God bless us all!

  • 23 May
    China’s Silk Road

    China’s Silk Road

    Can you give a few minutes each day during Ramadan to pray for the people who live on China’s Silk Road?

    Join people around the world in praying for God’s grace to fill this region.

    This printable prayer guide has cultural information about these beautiful people, and daily prayer points to help us to pray for them.

    Ramadan prayer meeting printable

    Ramadan Prayer meeting powerpoint

    Could you encourage your church or prayer group to pray for China’s Silk Road during Ramadan?

    These prayer guides have stories from local people, prayer meeting ideas, and easy to use prayer points.

    Use an entire guide for a whole prayer meeting, or choose just one section for a short “prayer slot”.

    Meet some of the people who call this region home

    along the Silk Road

    China’s impressive Belt and Road Initiative

    China road

    How could your skills be used to bless this region?

    Learning Chinese calligraphy

    Have you ever wondered how you could bless people at the “Ends of the Earth”? Parts of China’s Silk Road regions are further from the sea than anywhere else on earth. We believe prayer is one of the greatest ways we can bless people in our world. And that’s especially true for those who are furthest away from us.

    Can you take our five day prayer challenge, and see how God answers as you engage with Him in prayer?

    Five days of prayer for the Silk Road

    Stories from the Silk Road

  • 07 May
    Ramadan on my Road

    Ramadan on my Road

    “What’s Ramadan like in my area? Well, during working hours in Ramadan the city streets are much quieter than usual with people trying to conserve energy by staying in their air-conditioned shops and offices.

    This all changes in the mid-afternoon, as everyone joins the rush home, often stopping at a Ramadan market on the way to pick up food delicacies including curries, savoury snacks and sweet deserts. The streets then empty again as people wait in front of their food at home or in restaurants for the evening call to prayer at around 7:15pm, which signals the time for them to break the fast. This is almost the only opportunity to meet people socially during Ramadan. However, there isn’t much time to linger over the meal, as people rush off to pray. They need to do this before the last call to prayer at about 8:30pm.

    The streets around the mosques and prayer halls are then filled with people flocking to the special night time prayers which are believed to bring additional merit during Ramadan. And so, many women, who don’t usually go to the mosque to pray, and children join the men in attending the prayers. The best thing we can do for Muslims during Ramadan is to increase our prayers for them.”

    From a Christian professional in Southeast Asia

    Will you pray for East Asia’s Muslims?

    • Pray for God to bless Muslims’ relationships as they spend time together each evening when they break the fast.
    • Local followers of Jesus with good relationships with the community are often invited to the breaking of the fast each day. Pray for good conversations in these times.
    • Pray for workers and employers to be patient with one another during Ramadan, when people are more tired and hungry.

    Pray

    Pray for God’s blessing on East Asia’s Muslims

    Learn

    Learn more about East Asia’s Muslims

    Serve

    Find opportunities to love and serve East Asia’s Muslims

    By reubeng Islam
  • 03 May
    The Night Before the Fast

    The Night Before the Fast

    “The night before the fast starts is an important time in for my Muslim neighbours. There’s a sense of anticipation – this is a very special month and they’ve have been looking forward to it for some weeks now.
    Some of them will be watching Ramadan-related shows on TV, which feature prominently throughout the fasting month. Those who will be selling special food for breaking the fast are already busy with their preparations for all that will involve the next day. Women are checking they have everything they need to cook the pre-dawn meal. Some might phone their elderly relatives to check they have remembered that they need to start the fast tomorrow.
    Ramadan marks the time Muslims believe the Qur’ran was first revealed to Mohammed. But is also great time for followers of Jesus to pray. To pray for God to bless East and Southeast Asia’s Muslims. And to pray that they would learn more about Jesus.”

    From a local follower of Jesus in Southeast Asia

    Discover more about Ramadan in East Asia:

    Pray

    Pray for God’s blessing on East Asia’s Muslims

    Learn

    Learn more about East Asia’s Muslims

    Serve

    Find opportunities to love and serve East Asia’s Muslims

    By reubeng Islam
  • 23 Apr
    Frying, Washing, Waiting: Adyan’s Ramadan Story

    Frying, Washing, Waiting: Adyan’s Ramadan Story

    “Let me tell you about what Ramadan is like for my Muslim neighbor and friend Adyan.

    The days of the fasting month are even harder work for her than all the other days of the year. With a quiet husband who has struggled to find work, the burden of finding money to feed her family of four children falls largely to her. Thankfully she had good health and is a hard worker. She is shrewd too, a careful wife and mother, so they have survived this far, and now their eldest son is working too.

    During the fasting month, Adyan pulls out all the stops and sells snacks for the breaking of the fast each evening, this is on top of the two jobs she held down washing clothes and cleaning at local boarding houses. It means she has to go very early to the market each day to buy the ingredients she needs, and spends hours frying batch after batch of fried snacks in a huge wok of boiling oil.

    The days go by in a slow blur, waking a long time before dawn to cook breakfast for the family, shaking the children awake in time to eat before the sunrise, going to the first boarding house to work for a few hours, returning home to do her own housework and get the children ready for school, before starting work on food preparation. And so it goes on throughout the day. Back to the boarding house. Back to school to collect the children. The work doesn’t stop apart for the few hours she sleeps each night.

    She is 45 now and feels less strong than she used to be. Her back aches after the afternoon’s ironing work and her eyes feel stretched and tired. But she is driven on by the need to earn enough money to travel home to visit her family for celebrations at the end of the fasting month. She has been looking forward to it all year, hoping against hope that this year she will be able to afford it.

    Two years ago she had gone home, taking her two younger children for a precious week at the village. She had seen her sisters, heard all the news, and enjoyed the pleasure of family. When she left, it was in the knowledge that she wouldn’t see them for another year. But it had turned out to be two years because last year money had been too short, so she’d sent her eldest son alone on his motorbike for the long, long journey. He had taken money for the family there – the amount she could have spent on the bus ticket, plus a little bit more she had saved. She hopes and prays that this year she will go herself.”

    From a local follower of Jesus in Southeast Asia.

    Will you pray for East Asia’s Muslims?

    For women like Adyan, their workload during Ramadan can be particularly heavy. Many will rise very early (perhaps as early as 2am) to prepare a meal before dawn. The daylight hours may largely be spent preparing food, either for the breaking of the fast or to sell, alongside their usual responsibilities.

    Lord, as you did with Mary and Martha in Luke 10, please would Muslim women, whether they tend toward activity or contemplation, come to know of your love.

    Pray

    Pray for God’s blessing on East Asia’s Muslims

    Learn

    Learn more about East Asia’s Muslims

    Serve

    Find opportunities to love and serve East Asia’s Muslims

    By Edward Islam
  • 11 Apr
    The god who spoke

    The god who spoke

    On Aug. 15, 1945, a ‘god’ spoke. When Emperor Hirohito of Japan directly addressed his subjects for the very first time, life came to a temporary standstill around the world. Hirohito’s announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender not only ended a war and brought peace, but it also ended the myth that the emperor of Japan was divine. He spoke and the world changed.

    Because of this historical event, much changed in Japan as well. A new constitution was adopted and war was renounced. Democratic ideas took root in Japan and the emperor was reduced to a figurehead. Japanese industries flourished and a new middle class emerged resulting in a booming economy. The phrase “Made in Japan” stamped on manufactured goods was no longer derided as symbol of cheapness or inferiority, but esteemed as a mark of quality and success. Expensive vacations, quality education, designer clothes, and the latest electronic gadgets could be purchased by the masses and it seemed the lone threat to a peaceful, prosperous society was the legendary Godzilla!

    Certainly much changed after the emperor spoke, but in some regards nothing changed. The god of war had only been replaced by the gods of materialism and education. At the same time, the traditional gods of Japan continued to be venerated through worship at Shinto god shelves or Buddhist altars in homes throughout the country. Japanese still make periodic pilgrimages to the local shrines or temples for various life events and rely on purchased good luck charms for success and protection. Such things continue to retain a strong grip on the Japanese heart so even though the Only True God has spoken, few in Japan seem to be listening.

    On May 1stof this year, a new emperor will ascend the throne, replacing his elderly father, and inaugurate a new era. This assures that the oldest monarchical house in the world will continue. But, unlike their predecessors, post-war emperors now frequently appear in public as the traditional shrouds of secrecy surrounding them have been partially lifted. Their voices are now familiar, but when will the voice of God break through to Japanese hearts and inaugurate the coming of God’s kingdom rule upon this land?

    Let’s plead with God, like the Israelites did in Egypt. Plead that God would speak to Japanese hearts and that there would be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like we’ve never seen before.

    By Mike, an OMF missionary

    Will you pray for Japan?

    • Pray that Japanese people will hear and seek the only true God.
    • Pray for spiritual breakthrough in Japan.
    • Pray for the leaders in Japan, that they would also know and follow the true God.

    Pray

    Download resources to help you pray for Japan.

    Learn

    Learn more about OMF Japan.

    Go

    Find out about serving with OMF Japan.

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