Ep. 27 | Discover: Taiwan – Family, Spirituality, and Festivals

In the fifth episode of the Discover series, we learn more about the beautiful country of Taiwan. From its high-tech and forward-thinking cities, to its colourful festivals, and the people’s deep spirituality, Taiwan is full of interesting stories! But how can we show God’s love to Taiwanese people? And how can we pray for the Taiwanese church?
One exciting way to join in with what God is doing in the world is to learn more about his heart for the nations. This is exactly what the Discover series is all about. We would love for you to join us as we learn more about Taiwan!

If you’ve got any comments and questions do get in touch we’d love to hear from you

This transcript has been lightly edited to make it easier to read.

Reuben Grace

It’s really useful to know that’s actually maybe not the best place to go if you’re talking to a Taiwanese person or someone from that kind of religious background.

 

Freddie Barker

Hello, and welcome back to the Serve Asia podcast, where you’ll find stories, interviews, and discussions, all about how we make Jesus known in East Asia. And welcome back to the Discover series, a series where we’re learning all about the countries throughout East Asia, the history, the culture and the current Christian context. Today, we’re looking at a country with a population of 23,500,000, with a land area of only 38,900 square kilometres, garbage trucks which play music to remind people that they’re coming, and where scientists have successfully bred three glow in the dark pigs. It is, of course, Taiwan. And to learn all about Taiwan today, we’re joined by Reuben. Reuben, how are you today?

 

Reuben Grace

I’m very well, thank you.

 

Freddie Barker

Good. It’s wonderful to have you with us. For the listeners who don’t know who you are, who haven’t listened to the previous episodes that you’ve been on. Who are you? And what do you do?

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, so I work in the OMF UK communications team, I work on the billions magazine and our social media, so if you follow us on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, I’m the person behind those posts. And I also wrote a book that came out last year, called A Taste of Asia, which is very exciting it’s a family activity book, so yeah, a whole range of things.

 

Freddie Barker

Oh, that’s, that’s really exciting. Yeah Reuben is with us in the office and anything text related, he’s the go to man for editing. He’s got a keen eye for detail. And, yeah, we really appreciate all the work that he does here. Great. Rueben, I wonder you’re you’re you’re into reading you like your literature. What was the last good book that you read? Other than the one you wrote, obviously?

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, I think one I finished last night, actually, which was, Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness. I really recommend it. It’s kind of a topic that I hadn’t really thought much about before. And it’s a really kind of accessible and challenging in a good way as well, about our Christian lives. So yeah.

Freddie Barker

Yeah. Good. That sounds like a really useful book for Christians to read. Great. So today, we’re learning all about Taiwan. Rueben. I wonder, what do you already know about Taiwan? If, if anything?

 

Reuben Grace

So I remember a little bit about Taiwan, I think from sort of geography A Level or GCSE, I think it came up as being like, an Asian Tiger or something, which I think is a reference to it’s economic growth in kind of the 1980s or so. So I know about that. And I know about Taipei 101, which was the tallest building in the world for a little while. I think I remember seeing a documentary about that or something. But apart from that, I don’t know a huge amount.

 

Freddie Barker

Great. Yeah. Well, it sounds like you know, more than, more than I do. Has it come up at all in the Billions that you’ve edited.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, so we did an edition on Taiwan about this time last year. So kind of learnt quite a bit through that, which is really eye opening.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, good. Good. Yeah. So I’m super excited to learn more about Taiwan. Why in particular, are you interested in learning about the country?

 

Reuben Grace

I think it’s always interesting to kind of learn more about the different parts of God’s world and the people in it. And I think Taiwan is one of those kind of smaller countries that maybe you haven’t kind of heard about as much. And it’s kind of especially interesting, I think, to find out about some of those places.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, yeah. It’s a place that seems well is off the radar for most of us here in the UK. And if we want to be sharing the good news of Jesus, with Taiwanese people, then surely understanding more about the country, more about the culture, more about what the church is like there would be a good idea.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, absolutely. Looking forward to it.

 

Freddie Barker

Great. So we’ll hand over to our teacher now. And we’ll learn lots about Taiwan I’m sure.

 

Freddie Barker

So today we have the privilege of being joined by Mandy from Taiwan. It’s great to have you with us, Mandy, how are you today?

 

Mandy Peng

I’m doing fine. Thank you.

 

Freddie Barker

Good. Mandy, I wonder if you could, before we get into learning all about Taiwan, you could tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living, and yeah why don’t you tell us what you also get up to in your spare time? What, what are your hobbies?

 

Mandy Peng

I’m a Serve Asia coordinator. I’m working for OMF Taiwan. Basically, my job is that I send people out for short term mission, and I train people to be better prepared for their short term mission. And I debrief them when they come back.

 

Freddie Barker

Okay, great. So you do that from Taiwan, you send people from Taiwan elsewhere in Asia.

 

Mandy Peng

Yes. Oh, well, actually and we send people in Taiwan, but they are not necessarily Taiwanese. There are some foreign people who are residents in Taiwan I also send out too.

 

Freddie Barker

Okay, that’s great. What a valuable job to be helping people to fulfil God’s calling in their life. That’s amazing. What, what are some of your hobbies?

 

Mandy Peng

Oh, I like jogging. I like reading books.

 

Freddie Barker

Oooh, any good books that you read recently? Putting you on the spot a bit.

 

Mandy Peng

I need to translate the title. It’s kind of difficult. It’s okay. It’s just a novel. It’s about a Russian history story, kind of novel. I don’t know how to translate the name for that book.

 

Freddie Barker

That sounds really interesting. So yeah, you’re into novels. Great, great. But I feel like our audience know you a little bit better now. So that’s great. It’s always helpful to know the person we’re interviewing. Yeah. So let’s, let’s jump into learning all about Taiwan. I’m super interested because I personally don’t know much about Taiwan at all. So yeah, why don’t you start off with the basics? How would you describe Taiwanese culture? What, What does Taiwanese identity look like to you?

 

Mandy Peng

I would say most Taiwanese are very hardworking. We actually work very long hours, and so does our kids to as well. We very highly value hardworking people. So that kind of penetrate our whole culture. Besides that, we kind of read by seasons, what do I mean by season, because we have a lot of religion festivals. Almost like each season has a major religion festival. And people will participate in that. And they’re always involved Taoist or Buddhist worship, or ancestry worship.

 

Freddie Barker

So are people in Taiwan hard working because of the social pressure, or do they take pride in their work? What, what’s the reason behind that?

 

Mandy Peng

I think people value diligence, people want to be seen as valuable I think. So it’s not so much a peer pressure I think, but it’s a virtue that people persue. And being seen as a workoholic seem to be a good thing. Yeah.

 

Freddie Barker

Okay. So if you’re a hard worker, then you’re seen as virtuous. Yeah, that’s really interesting. Is that the same across the whole of Taiwan? Or is there some diversity within the country?

 

Mandy Peng

I think the majority of the people in Taiwan have this kind of concept. Our previous generation had a very rough time, economically and environmentally too, as well. So they work very hard, very diligently. We were the economic miracle in Asia. We are called out one of the four Tiger in Asia as a country. That’s due to their diligency, so they press their young people today to do the same as they did.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah. Okay. So the older generations went through a hard time worked hard as a result. And actually, Taiwan became prosperous. So yeah, it seems like that’s what’s been passed down through the generations. Are there any, any other aspects of Taiwan’s history that have, have influenced the culture?

 

Mandy Peng

We do have a lot of foreign influences, like my grandparents they were educated in Japanese education. So they speak Japanese. When they speak in Taiwanese, which is their mother tongue. They mix up with some Japanese word altogether. And I couldn’t distinguish Taiwanese from Japanese words too as well, until I learned some Japanese then realised that the word I spoke, I thought was Taiwanese, turns out this is a Japanese word.

 

Freddie Barker

Okay, so there’s some outside influence is that, is that mainly Japanese or are there other

Mandy Peng

No no! Netherelands, Spain, China. They are all major parts of influences on Taiwan.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, okay. That’s interesting. So it’s quite, although It’s quite a small place and relatively isolated I suppose. It’s actually got quite good connections to the outside world?

 

Mandy Peng

Yeah, because we started out as an island for the marine merchant to merge together to exchange their goods. So we have, we do rely on the foreign export, and also the import goods to Taiwan too as well.

 

Freddie Barker

So through trade, Taiwan became kind of exposed to the world. That’s great. You talked about diligence and hardworking, are there any other distinctive features of Taiwanese identity?

 

Mandy Peng

Sort of thinking about Taiwanese culture. It’s very hard for me to separate the religion festival from its culture, and its arts as well, too. So there are a very distinguished festival that I want to talk about, which is held in every Spring in Taiwan. We call it tomb sweeping day. It’s a day completely devoted for respecting our ancestors. So what people do is their whole family, I mean, not just nuclear family, but the whole family, like 20, or 30, people gather around their ancestors tomb. Sweeping the tomb, cleaning it, and offer incense and foods, wine, burning paper money in front of the tomb. They believe if they do that, they can appease the spirits and they can also ensure their prosperity. And on top of that, they also believe after life, they actually believe the food they burned, the paper money they burned, their ancestor can recieve it in hell. So that in this way they can provide for their ancestor too as well. And it is a virtue for them, for people to do that. And because they believe if you don’t take care of your family, then you are worse than an animal. Like even animal does better than human being if they don’t take care of their family, even the family who are already dead.

 

Freddie Barker

That’s really interesting. Tomb sweeping day you called it. So is that something that everyone in Taiwan would take part in?

 

Mandy Peng

Yeah, it is a major festival it’s a very big one too. So people will have like, two or three days off, just to do that. People will travel round to their hometown to do so.

 

Freddie Barker

Wow, that yeah, that’s quite, that is quite distinctive actually. I guess the Buddhist Taoist religions are quite intertwined into the culture then, would you say to be Taiwanese is to be religious in that way?

 

Mandy Peng

Yeah, I think in many ways we are pretty religious, but it was out of fear I think. Fear of the spirits, if we don’t appease them, they might attack us. And sometimes it’s more like bribing the spirits to make our life easier. People offer paper money all the time, in front of their houses. They thought if they appease the spirits, they can be prosperous. So you see that all the time.

 

Freddie Barker

So it’s quite a spiritual place. Most, would you say most Taiwanese people are aware of a spiritual realm, the spiritual world?

 

Mandy Peng

Yes, they truly believe that. Although a lot of young people they will say they are not religious, but when they face, for example any major event like college examination, right before that is examination. Some of them might go to a very big temple, famous for being able to help young people get good grades. They will go there and worship and pay the sums of money, like bribing the god or gods to help them with their examination. And once they get the high score on that examination. They might return and pay more money to the temple.

 

Freddie Barker

Oh okay, so they, the younger generation might might not think of themselves as religious. But actually, yeah, they follow quite closely in the footsteps of, of their parents and older generations. Oh that’s interesting. Now my picture of Taiwan is that it’s quite an urbanised place, is that correct?

 

Mandy Peng

Yeah it is. We have several big cities quite urbanised.

 

Freddie Barker

And is there a distinction between urban centres and more rural districts?

 

Mandy Peng

There are in the big city you can see high rise buildings. The city never sleeps, the shops are open late. And there are people everywhere. In the countryside, you don’t see that many people and the shops not open that late. The people in the countryside are more. They know each other, they are closer. But I always think that there are more temples in countryside as well. And the churches there are quite small and weak and ancient. Whereas the big city has several mega churches.

 

Freddie Barker

It’s good that you touched on church life actually, what is the current situation of Christianity and the church in Taiwan?

 

Mandy Peng

Like I said, we have mega churches in big cities. Several mega churches are more charismatic, they are able to attract more young people. And like I said before, most Taiwanese believe in the spirits, and it’s more like animists so that it’s easier for people to become believer once they see the power of God. So it’s easier to see that in more charismatic church. But as for the traditional churches, whereas they only the faithfully teach God’s word, they might only have older generations there.

 

Freddie Barker

Oh okay, so more charismatic churches draw in more people in Taiwan than more traditional denominations?

 

Mandy Peng

Yeah.

 

Freddie Barker

Oh that’s interesting. Would you say Christianity, the church in general? Is it growing in Taiwan? Is it shrinking? How is Christianity as a religion perceived there?

 

Mandy Peng

It’s quite interesting, because statistically it says its increasing, its growing, and the growing number of younger generations are growing. But we don’t quite see that in our churches, maybe because I would be at more conservative churches. So I don’t see that, but we do have a generational gap in a lot of churches in Taiwan, even big cities churches, like the young adult or the mid age adult is lacking in the church.

 

Freddie Barker

For the rest of Taiwan, what do they think of Christians? What’s, what’s their initial impression? Do they think it’s like a Western religion, a religion for outsiders?

 

Mandy Peng

Yeah, they always think Christian as someone who believe in the foreign religion is now very localised. And majority of Christians are middle class, or upper middle class. So most of them are well educated. So it’s very hard for them to evangelise to the people who are in the countryside who receive little education. For the part that they probably don’t speak Taiwanese. Because we speak different language. The rural area, might speak Taiwanese as their mother tongue. They can understand some Mandarin but Mandarin isn’t their mother tongue. They are not accustomed to speak Mandarin. The younger generation who grew up in the city only speak Mandarin. They probably understand a little bit of Taiwanese, but they couldn’t speak fluently.

 

Freddie Barker

I see yeah.

 

Mandy Peng

I actually have one interesting example I just heard last week from my pastor. He’s actually my seminary teacher, a very highly respected theologian. He said that he tried to serve the countryside churches, so he make himself visit regularly countryside churches and serve and accompany them. But after serving there four years, the people there finally told him the truth. They said, Can you just eat with us and accompany us to do things instead of preaching to us? And he said, why? Because preaching is like his, his thing! He can preach so well, that he was a popular speaker. He gives his best to those people, but they, they said, “To be honest with you, we don’t understand your preaching.” They would rather have him listening to their problems and pray for them, because the words and the phrases and education he received is so far over their head, that they couldn’t understand what he was talking about when he preached.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, it’s so important to make the gospel relatable when we do evangelism, isn’t it? And we can’t just be going around preaching the word of Jesus when we’re not living out ourselves and acting like Jesus would and loving the people and caring for them and praying with them. And like you said, eating with them. I think having meals with people is such a great way of showing that we care for them that we love them. Yeah, that’s a really powerful story. Thank you for sharing. Yeah, yeah. So you kind of touched on in that story that perhaps education, maybe a little bit of class, could be a barrier to people coming to know, Jesus, because, as you said, a lot of Taiwanese Christians are middle class, upper middle class. I wonder what, what are the barriers might there be for people in Taiwan coming to know Jesus?

 

Mandy Peng

I mentioned about the Tomb Sweeping Day. And it reflects a major hindrance for Taiwanese to come to Christ. Because they value ancestral worship so much that they couldn’t, especially for the first born son taking the responsibility to worship and continue worshipping their ancestor. So a lot of them, especially in the countryside, they will tell the missionary that, no, I couldn’t become Christians. Because my family wouldn’t allow me to do so. In doing so I will disown my family because I can no longer worship my ancestor.

 

Freddie Barker

Okay, so there’s an expectation in Taiwanese families that you will continue. I guess well it makes sense, doesn’t it? Because if your parents have worshipped their ancestors, then their expectation is that their offspring, the next generations will will continue to worship them. So yeah, I can see how that would be felt as as dishonouring to kind of, to go away. Yeah. So how would you go around as a Christian yourself then with your friends? How would you try and explain the gospel to them in a way that they’d understand, in a way that would relate to them and that they, they’d want to accept Jesus into their lives?

 

Mandy Peng

I would recommend not to mention about eternal life. Not emphasise that, you can mention that but not emphasise that. Because in their own religion, the folk religion is this mixture of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucius, they already believe they have eternal life. But their eternal life is is like a cycle of death and life. But it’s a cycle of pain. They want to get out of this cycle. So it’s kind of different. It’s very hard to speak to any Taoist or Buddhist believers, the folk religion believers as well to, to talk about “No your ancestor doesn’t need you to offer food. No your ancestor doesn’t need any paper money, they are dead, they are not living in hell.” So it’s very hard for those people unless they see the power of God. Otherwise, they couldn’t believe. They are pretty deep in their belief. And their world system revolves around it.

 

Freddie Barker

I guess it matters then even more that we’re showing, we’re displaying God’s love to them, rather than just kind of meeting them with an intellectual challenge. That’s that’s really helpful. And I guess praying as well for them to see God’s power at work. Yeah, we have to trust that God will be the one who’s transforming their lives.

 

Mandy Peng

Yes.

 

Freddie Barker

I wonder is there opportunity for an outsider like myself or others from the UK or America maybe to, to come and to share the gospel?

 

Mandy Peng

Yeah, outsider you know, can come we welcome them and Taiwanese are very friendly, and they can always come to help out. Our missionaries are doing a lot of work, and they do need a pair hand to help.

 

Freddie Barker

That’s good!

 

Mandy Peng

Yes. Yeah, Christianity came in the 16th century through the Netherlands and Spanish people too. So yeah it last until now. So even though we’ve gone through a lot of different regimes, a lot of rulers but I see God is faithful, and He always finds a way to send His people to us to bring us back to His arms.

 

Freddie Barker

Well yeah, that’s, that’s amazing. God is faithful. And if He’s been raising disciples in Taiwan since the 16th century, we can trust that many more will come to faith in Him there. Yeah, finally, Mandy, I wonder how can we be praying for the country of Taiwan and the Taiwanese church?

 

Mandy Peng

There are only 5.5% of Christian in Taiwan. 90 some percent is not Christians, and they don’t know Christ. We are a minority. And there are increasing tensions between the Christians and the general public, in terms of different questions in society. So it’s quite tense. And there are increasing animosity towards Christians too as well, even among the young people. So we do pray that we have wisdom to deal with these sensitive issues, and still stay true to God’s word. Secularism is a problem in church, prosperity gospel is a problem in the church too. Like people still, even though they became Christian, they still come with the idea that bribing the gods to do things for them, and pay back that kind of idea still remains. So they say if I’m being a good Christian, I attend every event in the church that God should bless me, that I should be prosperous. Just pray that the Christian mind will mature. I do, I do have young people who I mentor once told me that, “Oh, I heard once you become a Christian in the beginning God will answer your prayer quickly and will do things for you. But right after that, the honeymoon time is gone on, that He wants you to become mature.” Then he declared that, “I would never want to be a mature Christian. I want to say as baby and just keep crying to God to do things for me.” Do pray a Christians will want to become mature Christians in Taiwan.

 

Freddie Barker

Those are great thing to pray, but I think we all need to be sensitive to important issues around us and how we relate to people of other faiths and people who don’t have any faith. And yeah, we also all need to be drawn closer to God, don’t we. We all need to be deepening in our faith and our trust in Him. Yeah none of us have got it sorted. Yeah, those are great things to pray for. Great. Yeah. Thank you so much, Mandy. It’s been really interesting to hear about Taiwan. And to hear some stories, I particularly liked the one of the pastor going to the people in the countryside. Yeah. Really encouraging, and I think I’ve learned a lot. Thank you so much.

 

Mandy Peng

Thank you.

 

Freddie Barker

So now we’re back with our student Rueben for this episode. Thank you so much to Mandy for sharing all about Taiwan with us. It was really interesting listening to her getting the insider’s perspective, as it were. Reuben, yeah. Lots covered there. What stood out to you?

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, I think there were a few things that stood out to me. I think one of them was kind of Mandy was saying about people in Taiwan being really spiritual, and having a real awareness of kind of there being a spiritual world that I think sort of here in the West, we don’t really think about that very much. We sort of read about it a bit in the Bible, but we kind of feel like we’ve moved beyond that. But yeah, people in Taiwan seem really aware of this kind of spiritual dimension to life. And really attentive to that. I thought that was that was fascinating.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, it’s super interesting isn’t it because, yeah, as you said, it’s something perhaps in the UK and in the West, we don’t pay attention to as much and for it to be so ingrained in Taiwanese culture is quite significant. I think the fact that they all attended that tomb sweeping day festival, and Mandy saying, even amongst the younger generations, who don’t consider themselves religious or spiritual, actually they do lots of practices which would suggest that they do believe in those things.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, definitely. And even like with the, you saying about the tomb sweeping day that, you know, it’s not just like a few people or like the old people that go to that it’s sort of the whole, you know, the whole family kind of goes. goes to that. So definitely, yeah.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah definitely. it’s kind of a whole community activity isn’t, the whole country is involved almost. And on that there seem to be from what Mandy was saying a lot of kind of social pressures, a lot of expectation that you work hard, that you attend these festivals. What did you think of that?

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, I thought that was. Yeah, that was really interesting. Yeah, particularly the kind of work ethic, I guess. I mean, I’d, you know, working at OMF I’d heard a bit about Japan, and, you know, Japan having quite a famous kind of work ethic. So it’s interesting to hear that’s sort of similar in Taiwan, and how she was saying, you know, being a workaholic was a good thing, in Taiwan. Yeah, that was interesting. And, yeah, about that kind of going back to being a kind of a spiritual world with that kind of pressure and the challenges that that creates for people who are considering Jesus and considering Christianity that, you know, here in the UK, you know, my church has just started an alpha course and, you know, we chat to people about faith. And people who may be thinking about following Jesus, while it’s only really, only really matters for them as a sort of very personal decision. Whereas, it seems like in Taiwan people have a kind of, a lot more to sort of take into account in a way, like the impact it will have on their family, and how their family might react. That you know, maybe here isn’t, isn’t much of an issue. So I thought that was interesting to hear about.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, absolutely. Perhaps their their worldview isn’t as individualistic as ours. On their mind, perhaps more is their family, is their community at large. And it’s interesting that you brought up those cultural aspects and how they interplay with the church interact with the church. And it was interesting, I found what Mandy was saying about, particularly younger generations being drawn to a more charismatic style, where they’re seeing God’s power at work, perhaps more tangibly than in conservative church settings. And, yeah, that there being kind of a generational gap in that regard, with kind of the old church styles going out of fashion, and these new mega church, more charismatic styles being more popular.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, I thought that was, yeah, that was great to kind of hear about and some of the, yeah what that reflects about that kind of spiritual world that people need to see as power, but also that, you know, we do have like the kind of a verbal Gospel to proclaim, but people need to kind of see that in action. I think that’s one of the things you mentioned talking to Mandy, you know, people need to see God’s love kind of in, in his people, as well. That’s part of the kind of the power of God for salvation. And I realise when you were saying that always sort of nodding along forgetting that on a podcast that doesn’t really, really work so well. But I definitely agree with what you were saying. Yeah, so yeah, really interesting different generations think and how they respond.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, absolutely. And it just goes to show as well that having learnt about Taiwanese people and culture, we can adapt how we share the gospel with them. I think Mandy was really helpful in laying out things to do, and things to focus on, aspects of the gospel to perhaps talk about first and others to avoid. And I thought was interesting, particularly because Taiwan’s a Taoist Buddhist nation, not to emphasise eternal life at the start, because Buddhists Taoists believe in eternal life already, but they want to escape from it, they want to escape that cycle of pain. So yeah, just being aware of those things can help shape how we might share the gospel with someone.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, I thought that was fascinating, you know, because often here like our go to kind of evangelistic verse is of John 3:16, “God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” And you know, that’s often where we’d maybe first go when we’re sharing the gospel, so it’s really useful to know that that’s actually maybe not the best place to go if you’re talking to a Taiwanese person or someone from that kind of religious background. Yeah, really eye opening to see that.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah. And particularly, when it came to that, that story of the famous preacher, who went into the countryside and talked to people for, I don’t know how long but wasn’t making an impact. And then they said, “If your God is so loving, show us, like, be that loving person to us and care for us and have a meal with us.” Those kind of practical things are really important, it seems in their culture.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, I really loved that story. I sort of wanted to pick up on that a bit. I’d seen something on Twitter, the other day that was kind of around that sort of in, in the UK, and kind of some of those maybe class barriers I think Mandy shared a little bit about and that, you know, a lot of the church in Taiwan is quite sort of middle to upper class. And so they maybe struggle to reach out to sort of people in rural areas or the working class. And there was an exchange I saw on Twitter the other day, which was saying how that’s maybe a little bit similar in the UK that you have a lot of, a lot of the church in the UK is quite sort of middle class. And so actually, it was maybe harder for you know working class people say coming into the church, we know there are maybe unintentional barriers that we put up, and I remember Mandy saying in Taiwan with the story you mentioned about the city pastor kind of coming with this particular style of preaching and the people in the countryside saying, you know, we don’t really, we don’t really get what you’re preaching about, we want to sort of see it. And that yeah, that here, we also need to kind of be careful about that, you know. So Graham Miller, who’s the CEO of London City Mission in this Twitter exchange was saying, you know, why don’t more of our church buildings have like smoking shelters and stuff, you know, because there’ll be people who maybe come to meetings who do smoke, and maybe, you know, they need to go out. And that’s actually a good opportunity to then talk to them about more spiritual things. And so are there kind of barriers like that, that we, that we maybe put up, so that was something I was thinking about off the back of what Mandy was sharing. And I think, knowing from, you know, the work I did on the Billions magazine, like, the great work that OMF Taiwan are doing to make sure that, you know, people who work shifts can still get to Bible studies and things. So running those late at night, and, you know, things like that, that mean that everyone genuinely could have an opportunity to hear about Jesus is just really key. And we really need to be aware of those kind of barriers that we can put up without even really thinking about it.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, that’s a really interesting connection. Really interesting observation. In as much as whilst we’re learning about a culture, we’re learning about Taiwan, and how the church is seeking to share Jesus with people, we can also implement that in our own lives and learn from that, and see patterns that are similar within within our local church context. Yeah, that’s really interesting. So Reuben, would you say that learning about Taiwan has perhaps changed the way that you might engage with God’s mission there?

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, I think so. It’s definitely helped me think a bit more about their challenges. But there are there some of the ways that we can be praying for God’s work in Taiwan. I really appreciated some of the things that Mandy shared about that, particularly, you know, not just praying for people to come to faith but also for them to grow in their maturity of their faith, and to pray for some of those challenges in Taiwan. And also being, as I mentioned earlier, being aware of the way of communicating the gospel to people in different worldviews, and being aware that where I might naturally start in kind of presenting the gospel to someone is not necessarily the best place for them. So I’ll definitely be taking that away with me as well on a more practical evangelistic sort of level. Yeah, as well as some of the things to pay for as well, sort of day to day.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah, that’s really good. It’s really good that you are seeing applications to learning in your own evangelism in your own prayer life. That’s basically what we want. That’s our aim of this episode. We want people to engage through learning, with God’s mission, God’s heart for the nations.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah, definitely. And I think it’s one of the things I really appreciate about, you know, this whole series of the podcast about learning. Because you sort of, think oh that doesn’t seem like an amazing way to engage in God’s mission. You know, I want to go somewhere, which we can’t do at the moment. But you know, I want to be doing things. But I think learning is such a great way in to discovering more about God and his world. And it’s a great sort of gateway into that. And like you said, there are things that we can apply in our own lives from learning more about far off places, which I just love. It’s great.

 

Freddie Barker

Yeah. Well, I think that’s absolutely right. And I for one will continue learning about these places, and I hope our audience will as well. Thank you so much for joining us today, Reuben. It’s been a pleasure chatting to you and learning with you about Taiwan. Yeah, thank you for joining us.

 

Reuben Grace

Yeah great thank you for having me on it was nice.

 

Freddie Barker

Great!

 

Freddie Barker

A huge thank you to Mandy and to Reuben, for joining us. As we’ve learnt about Taiwan today. It’s been really interesting. And if you’re interested in continuing learning, there are a couple of really useful resources which Mandy has highlighted for us. First of all, don’t forget about the prayer guides on the OMF website. There’s also an article there written by David Eastwood, who is the director of OMF Taiwan, about the religious context in the country. Mandy also highlighted a popular film called Warriors of the Rainbow. She asked me to say that it’s not a documentary, but it is based on actual events. And the language in the film is Aboriginal Taiwanese. Of course, I think that there are subtitles. There’s also an animated film, which perhaps is more appropriate for children all about life in Taiwan, from the 1970s through to 2010, called On Happiness Road. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Serve Asia Podcast. We hope you’ve learned more about sharing Jesus with people from East Asia. You can find more episodes of the Discover Series by for the Serve Asia Podcast in your favourite podcast app, or by visiting our website, omf.org/uk/podcast. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback, comments, questions, or episode ideas. You can get in touch on Instagram, @ServeAsiaPodcast, or by email, uk.podcast@omfmail.com. Do check out the show notes for more details and links and we’ll see you next episode. Goodbye.

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