God had allowed our partnership ... to be one built on trust.
OMF’s Kat Tang shares how partnering with locals is an important part of ministry in Taiwan. Read her story below, or listen to her audio version of the story.
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(Listen to the audio version of this article:)
By Kat Tang
“Are these teachers from your church in the States?” asks the school principal.
“No, they are all from local churches here in Taiwan,” I reply.
“And they are all Christians?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Even the college students?”
“Yes, our team is from two different churches here in Taiwan.”
“Oh…I see…” He trails off, politely smiles and nods, and then walks away.
I’m left standing there feeling unsettled about why he was suddenly asking so many questions. That afternoon, I shared with the short-term team about the random exchange, and how it made me nervous about running the Bible Story Escape Room Camp that week, even though the principal knew we told Bible stories during our usual ministry.
We had spent the last couple of years building trust with the principal and the staff, so we prayed that the questions were just out of curiosity; not because he no longer wanted us to tell Bible stories in the school.
The next day, the assistant principal asked if we were willing to help with the incoming first-graders’ parent-child morning by leading them in a craft. Of course, we said yes – it was a great and very rare opportunity for us to meet the parents. Two weeks later, as we arrived in the classroom, the principal was there already chatting with the parents. He told us he would like to be the one to introduce us. He gave a bit of our history with the school, said he trusts and appreciates us, and even mentioned that we were sent from our church in the States!
We felt our prayers were answered: God had allowed our partnership with him and the school to be one built on trust. We were not just relieved, but also thankful God opened the door for us to maintain a good and respectful relationship with the school, so that we can continue being allowed to go in and build relationships with the community around us.
Partnering with locals is an important part of ministry in Taiwan. While we do not yet have an actual local partner to serve alongside us in ministry, we are thankful that God has already given us opportunities to partner with the local school.
Likewise, partnership with local Taiwanese churches is not just for our benefit. The team that we hosted was sent from quite a large city church. On the 8-person team was the pastor in charge of missions, as well as a minister who is very involved in missions. When they agreed to come serve with us for the camp, we were clear that there would be a mandatory orientation at the beginning, and debrief at the end, which was already different from their usual practices.
On the last day, the minister said she realized our focus was not so much on making sure the camp went perfectly, but on what they were learning about mission, about God’s heart for the lost, and how they can remain involved in mission when they return back to their own church/city. The pastor shared with us how she was reminded that they need to put their focus back on having short-term teams as a mobilization tool for mission (awareness, education, involvement, etc.)
We were encouraged and thankful to be able to help them think through things, and remain committed to the fact that as missionaries, our job is not just for local ministry where we are placed, but also to partner with, and mobilize local churches and Christians in mission.
Local partnerships can be tricky to navigate, but when time is taken to both give and receive, and to build trust, it can be such a blessing to us, as well as the ministry.
(To learn more about the family’s ministry in Taiwan, visit their PartnerHub page.)
About the Author: Putao Lin & Kat Tang with their daughters Jovie and Maisie, are missionaries with OMF in Taiwan. Kat is from Texas, and joined OMF in 2006, originally serving at-risk kids in the Wanhua district in Taipei. From 2011-2016, she served as the Serve Asia Coordinator of the field, where she trained and discipled short-term workers coming to serve in various ministries. Putao is from Taiwan, and grew up in the Shopworkers Church, a church established by OMF-Taiwan, reaching out to the working-class in the shopworkers industry. They married in 2016 and now serve in Meishan township, at the foot of the Alishan mountains in Chiayi county.