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 aswe 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”.