Taiwan Revisited

It is now almost a week since I returned from Taiwan and the celebrations to mark 150 years since James Maxwell, from the Presbyterian Church of England, arrived in the country to preach the Gospel. I have been reflecting upon what the United Reformed Church might learn from this daughter church that has grown in confidence and strength as

Bao-An Temple, Taipei

Bao-An Temple, Taipei

we have declined. Taiwan is a land of different religious and political cultures. Political parties argue over the relationship with mainland China while the aboriginal tribes hold fast to a culture that predates Chinese domination. From a religious perspective Christianity amounts for only 3% of the population. Walking through Taipei with a Cantonese speaking former missionary we engaged in conversation with a local man who had never before heard the Cantonese word for Christian and had no idea what religion we came from.

A walk through the streets of Taipei will take you past temples to Confucius and Tao, the smell of incense being burned in memory of ancestors at family shrines claims your attention and the rich variety of culture and religion is impossible to ignore. If anything this diversity of competing forces seems to sharpen the missionary aims of the church rather than to diminish or dilute it. The present mission focus is the ‘One-leads-One New Doubling Movement’, the basic guiding principles of which are “Identity, Commitment and Growth”.

Taipei Confucius Temple

Taipei Confucius Temple

The Confession of Faith from 1985 perhaps gives a clue to the energy of the PCT, the aim to become a sign of hope through love and suffering is expressed and repeated by the church of today. Perhaps we in the west have forgotten that suffering is to be expected and if not welcomed neither can it be avoided. Always the commitment to the service of those for whom no one else speaks prevails whatever the cost. The early missionaries were committed to equipping local people to take responsibility for the continuing work. The ministers of the United Reformed Church might consider that equipping the saints is more necessary to the health of the church than relieving them of the
Sunset over Taipei

Sunset over Taipei

responsibility to witness in every aspect of our lives.

David Grosch-Miller

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