June 11-17, 2012
Editorial: Proclaiming the Gospel far and wide regardless of cost
Translated by Lydia Ma
PCT General Secretary Andrew Chang recently wrote a column on PCT’s website entitled “Cherishing our Country – Taiwan; Proclaiming the Gospel – Jesus Christ”. He remarked that “cherishing Taiwan” is more than just identifying with Taiwanese people in love and suffering, but also living out the Christian faith by never giving up during difficult circumstances. Chang also underscored the 6 dimensions of PCT’s ongoing evangelistic ministries, which include proclaiming the Gospel, training God’s children, serving in love, transforming Taiwanese society, taking care of God’s creation, and influencing the culture through the Gospel. He concluded his column by pointing out that the prevailing confusion that exists in Taiwanese society is a good opportunity to share the Gospel if all Christians would make a commitment to do so. Through people’s willingness to be used by Christ, Taiwan will surely experience God’s love once again and the Gospel will surely be further proclaimed.
Proclaiming the Gospel far and wide requires long-term commitment. Whether it is in urban areas or rural areas, evangelism needs to go in tandem with spending time accompanying those who have just heard of the Gospel. In so doing, we help people sense God’s presence in their midst. Many good examples of what this looks like in reality have taken place in various local churches in Taiwan, such as Chiala Presbyterian Church, Lushang Presbyterian Church, and Lin-Tzu-Nei Presbyterian Church, where churches saved youths involved with gangsters, played a key role in community development, and set an example in preserving the environment. We are convinced that furthering the Gospel requires much integrity, commitment, and hard work.
The story of the demon-possessed man found in Mark 5 tells us that Jesus commanded demons to come out of him. Before Jesus set him free from demons, the man used to wander from tomb to tomb, where he would cry out and cut himself. With Jesus’ permission, the demons then entered 2,000 pigs resting nearby and the pigs rushed down into a lake and drowned. The price of these pigs at the time would be the equivalent of NT$100 million today. We could say that the medical costs of healing this man was NT$100 million – and exorbitant price tag indeed. However, the story concludes with this man gratefully proclaiming what Christ had done for him throughout his hometown. From this story we can see that evangelism requires human resources, passion, financial resources, and more. It is not to be taken lightly.
Because of unequal distribution of resources between urban and rural areas, many rural areas lack job opportunities and children living in those areas are raised by their grandparents because their parents are absent. However, PCT churches have been able to reach very remote areas – areas without even one 7-Eleven store – and help people living there by simply fulfilling their calling to be available and leaving the rest in God’s hands.
One example that comes to mind of how local churches have fulfilled their calling is the story of Chungliao Presbyterian Church near Nantou. This church was built in 1956 during the PCT’s Doubling Movement. However, over the course of 36 years, it remained a branch church instead of progressing into a full-fledged church, and not even one baptism was recorded during that time at Chungliao Church. In fact, just before the 921 Earthquake in 1999, the church had dwindled to approximately 10 people, forcing members to consider closing the church altogether.
However, the church’s commitment and help to local residents in the aftermath of the 921 Earthquake to providing moral support and comfort resulted in the church being used as a refuge for emotionally distraught residents, a mortuary to temporarily place the dead, and a place of hope and blessing. Shortly after, the church baptized 44 people from 2000 to 2002 and became a full-fledged church on January 17, 2006.
No one wishes for a disaster to strike, but when people suffer because of it, the church must be by the people’s side and share in their struggles. There are no shortcuts to proclaiming the Gospel far and wide and it is not a task to be taken lightly.