June 25-July 1, 2012
Church Ministry News
Muzha Presbyterian Church's outreach among new immigrant families lauded as transformational
Reported by Simon Lin
Written by Lydia Ma
Just as people at Muzha Presbyterian Church in Kaohsiung were busy making steamed rice dumplings in time for Dragon Boat Festival, more than 30 women from the church’s “Ruth Fellowship” showcased their wonderful culinary skills by presenting Indonesian and Vietnamese rice dumplings for the congregation to taste. This fellowship’s members are new immigrants and women and they are sometimes known as foreign brides in Taiwan.
Muzha Church established an association in 2008 in an attempt to combine community outreach with community development. The purpose of this association is to partner with government organizations in reaching out and caring for marginalized families while promoting organic farming and using farming to help solve poverty among local residents.
Muzha Church’s pastor, Rev. Huang Hsi-hsun said that there had been a significant increase of immigrants in Neimen District, perhaps as many as 300 new “foreign brides”. Because these women face many cultural and linguistic barriers upon their arrival to Taiwan, their lives are very challenging. In addition, their husbands’ are often unemployed or from a poor family, and this means that helping their new families make ends meet is one of their priorities and challenges. For this reason, Muzha Church also began to offer after-school tutoring programs for children from these families as a means to help them.
To help these new families find employment and tend to their emotional needs, the church also began a ministry called “Good News Farm for Women”, which consists of planting organic vegetables on a plot of land. This farm is tended by new immigrant families and also open to local residents who are willing to sponsor a portion of the land and collaborate with these families.
According to Huang, this farm offers local residents opportunities to engage with new immigrant families, which goes a long way in getting rid of prejudices and stereotypes. The women often go to the market together every week to sell their produce. As they get to know one another more, they also encourage and comfort one another. Many immigrant women have expressed that the farm has been a source of happiness for them and their lives have been transformed by attending church.
According to reports, residents from other townships have marveled at how well new immigrants from Neimen have adjusted to their new lives and they have also noticed that these women are also very good-natured. These new immigrant women are also taking part in another church ministry that delivers food to seniors who live alone and they have now become integral members of the church.
Commenting on the church’s ministry and outreach to new immigrants, Rev. Huang said, “Evangelism ought to be more than telling people “May God bless you and provide food and clothing for you”, without further efforts in helping such people.” He elaborated that the church doesn’t exist for itself in a vacuum, but must exist to benefit local communities. He added that reaching out to “the least of these” in any community is the church’s responsibility.
Photo by Simon Lin