June 4-10, 2012
Church Ministry News
Post-Morakot ministries focus on resettlement and economic development
Reported by Simon Lin
Written by Lydia Ma
Six pastors from Malaysia and Singapore Presbyterian churches visited Paiwan Presbytery at the end of May this year to fellowship with local churches and visit Morakot rebuilding centers. During their visit, Paiwan Rebuilding Center’s director, Rev. e’leng, urged these visitors to pray for post-Morakot ministries headed by the PCT. She added that a meeting on product development would be taking place on May 29 between all Morakot Rebuilding Center directors. These agricultural and craft products were made or produced by people most affected by Typhoon Morakot. The meeting would decide on a sales strategy for products made or grown by Morakot survivors and help them earn a living.
Rev. Tao Yueh-mei, director of Pingtung Rebuilding Center, said that it had been 3 years since Typhoon Morakot and church efforts have slowly turned from emergency aid to resettlement and development support. Presently, all centers are focusing on selling agricultural or craft products and the directors have partnered with the General Assembly and PCT business organizations to set up counters displaying some of these products and marketing them to the public. The proceeds of the sale would go toward helping Morakot survivors earn a living. Some of the items to be displayed and sold include smoked rice wine and red yeast sausages, mulberry wine, roselle juice, coffee beans, and hand-dyed cloth.
The Malaysian and Singaporean pastors were welcomed and hosted by leaders from Paiwan Presbytery. During a session introducing Paiwan indigenous tribe, Rev. e’leng said that of the 90,000 people identified as Paiwan natives, only 10,000 are Christian, thus making evangelism among Paiwan communities a priority. To reach out and share the Gospel with Paiwan indigenous peoples who have migrated to urban areas, many of whom reside in Kaohsiung City, presbytery officials have been in touch with Kaohsiung city councilors to access data concerning indigenous residents in the area.
Rev. e’leng added that though Paiwan Presbytery doesn’t have much experience in foreign missions, its women’s committee has been promoting a “small offerings” program, encouraging everyone to offer a little bit of money. This program has raised more than NT$100,000 dollars and will be used toward supporting a missionary in 2015.
When the delegation was taken to Changjhih Lily Reservation, Majia Farm, and other permanent housing areas in Pingtung County to see where some indigenous groups have been resettled after Typhoon Morakot, they noticed that though Highway 31 was repaired, there was not even one PCT church fully built and progress was slow and ineffective because of difficulties in communicating with government agencies regarding funds and land rights.
Rev. e’leng explained that indigenous families that had moved to these permanent housing areas discovered that their lives were forever changed. Some elderly people were diagnosed with clinical depression while others committed suicide because they were not accustomed to their new environment. For this reason, counseling is an important and long-term ministry for pastors working at these permanent housing areas.
She underscored the plight of these residents by telling her guests that though pastors have vowed to help residents return to their hometown, the government has repeatedly denied access to these areas on the grounds that the land is vulnerable and unsafe. However, residents currently living in these permanent housing communities do not have property rights to their new homes and are akin to tenants.
This delegation also had the opportunity to observe the PCT’s sit-in protest against price hikes during their visit. The protest took place in Pingtung at Sun Yat-sen Park on May 27.
Photo by Simon Lin