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Taiwan Church News
3164 Edition
October 15-21, 2012
Headline News

Pingtung Presbytery churches mark Double Ten Day with anti-nuclear flags

Reported by Simon Lin

Written by Lydia Ma

During last week’s Double Ten national holiday, Pingtung Presbytery rallied its local churches to support an anti-nuclear energy campaign started by a woman in Taipei nicknamed A-Fa, a coffee shop and art gallery owner. On a day when R.O.C. flags were waved everywhere around Taiwan, numerous coffee shops, hostels, book shops and churches across Taiwan decided to display flags printed with the words “NO NUKES. No more Fukushima” on them instead.

Commenting on this initiative, Wanluan Presbyterian Church pastor, Rev. Lin Chang-you, said that the Taiwanese government and the Taiwan Power Corporation had tried to hide many alarming facts about the safety of nuclear power reactors in Taiwan. Therefore, when he saw this anti-nuclear energy initiative being reported in the news in July, just a few months after news reports revealed that broken screw bolts were discovered at the Nuclear Power Plant 2, he petitioned Pingtung Presbytery to support A-Fa’s campaign.

Pingtung Presbytery Church and Society Committee Secretary, Elder Hong Ming-chu, said that displaying the “no nukes” flag was a good way of letting Taiwanese society know that Christian churches are concerned about Taiwan. He hoped that this initiative would also prompt the general public to become concerned about the perils of nuclear energy and to start thinking about protecting future generations. He added that he looked forward to seeing the PCT General Assembly come up with new strategies and initiatives on this issue so that local churches will not fall behind other social organizations.

Anti-Nukes flag displayed outside a church

Photo provided by Wanluan Presbyterian Church

 
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Taiwan Church News
3163 Edition
October 8-14, 2012
Headline News

Rev. Schmidt Shares How He Overcame Physical Disability and Achieved a Brighter Life

Reported by Chen Yi-hsuan

Written by Tsai Sheng-hsin

Rev. Rainer Schmidt, a German pastor as well as a Paralympics table tennis gold medal winner, is touring Taiwan for the second time in 3 years. Rev. Schmidt will give 11 seminars in different parts of Taiwan, at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church, to share with people how he surmounted physical disability and his life philosophy. On October 5, 2012, Rev. Schmidt held a press conference at PCT’s headquarters in Taipei. At the conference, he also completed a work of calligraphy with the assistance of renowned calligrapher Chen Shih-hsien. The piece depicted two Chinese characters that represent “Life”. Through these two characters, Chen hopes to encourage those who are disabled to not give up.

Rev. Schmidt’s 11 seminars started in Hualien on October 6. Not only was Rev. Schmidt born without forearms and with a shortened femur, but he is also red-green color blind. However, his parents raised him up with strong Christian faith and the love of God. They helped Rev. Schmidt to face his difficulties and find his own way. Later, Rev. Schmidt not only won 7 medals in the Paralympics, but he also became a pastor.

During his current visit to Taiwan, Rev. Schmidt will share with people how he faced his disabilities and his journey to self-acceptance. Rev. Schmidt hopes to use his own story to encourage those who are struggling in life, no matter if they are teenagers searching for their own value or if they are disabled people. From Rev. Schmidt’s viewpoint, only through facing our struggles and finding a brand new way to see ourselves can we brighten our lives again.

At the press conference, PCT associate general secretary Rev. Kho Sing-doh said that while people in Taiwan have been suffering from a bad economic crisis in the past few years, the government has been doing little to improve the situation. Therefore, the suicide rate in Taiwan is rapidly increasing. Kho hopes that the story of Rev. Schmidt can help people to stand up and have hope again. Rev. Pusin Tali, the PCT Moderator, also believes that Taiwanese people have many worries and concerns these days. He hopes that people here can learn from Rev. Schmidt’s positive attitude and bravely move on with life.

In the Hualien seminar on October 6, about 800 brothers and sisters from different churches in the Hualien region were in attendance. Most people came with their families to listen to Rev. Schmidt’s story. They were all touched by his life journey, beginning with his birth, his struggles as a teenager, and how he found his passion in table tennis. More importantly, they were also moved when he talked about how he accepted himself for who he is. Rev. Schmidt also shared his answers to some common questions people ask, for example, “How do you live without forearms?” His answer always is “just as everyone in the world does.” In Rev. Schmidt’s opinion, the most important thing in life is not what we can do or what we can’t do, but how we use our abilities to live our life and help others.

Rev. Schmidt also shared 3 tips in the seminar to help people when they face something they can’t deal with. First, we should use our tools well. Second, we should ask for help from others when it’s needed. Third, which is also the most important tip, we need to change our way of thinking. When he was a teenager, Rev. Schmidt often compared himself to his younger brother, who was then a good looking lad and a fast runner. The more he compared himself, the sadder he became. However, one day, his younger brother told him, “Rainer, maybe you are not good at many things, but you are better at playing table tennis than anyone of us.” Upon hearing this, Rev. Schmidt started to reconsider the way he looked at himself, and he spent the next three years to completely change his way of thinking. Moreover, he appreciated how his family and friends were always beside him to support him.

At the end of the seminar, Rev. Schmidt used the story of a paralytic and his friends to encourage everyone to not only accompany each other, but also, to reconcile with God. In doing so, we can all receive a rich life from God.  Rev. Kao Ching-fu, pastor of Mafowakay Presbyterian Church, praised God for He can achieve every impossible thing. Rev. Kao encouraged everyone that, as long as we are willing to readjust our thinking and rely on God, we can be changed completely.



Photo by Lin Yu-shan

 

 

 
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Taiwan Church News
3163 Edition
October 8-14, 2012
General Assembly News

ICMA Chairman Efforts in Helping Taiwan’s Maritime Affairs Lauded by MOFA

Written by Lin Yi-ying

Translated by Tsai Sheng-hsin

Douglas B. Stevenson, Chairman of International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA), visited Taiwan from September 30 to October 6, 2012 at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Mr. Stevenson not only gave speeches and held seminars, but also met Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim and visited government units such as the Fisheries Agency, the Council of Agriculture, and the Kaohsiung City Government. Mr. Stevenson specializes in International Maritime Law and has been doing intensive research about issues relating to contemporary maritime piracy.

The PCT Seamen’s/Fishermen’s Service Center had long been a member of ICMA. However, at the 7th ICMA World Conference, the ICMA general secretary Michael Chin, who is a Dutch citizen of Chinese ancestry, proposed to cancel the membership of the PCT group. Unfortunately, Chin achieved his goal. However, with a great deal of hard work and effort, the PCT Seamen’s/Fishermen’s Service Center was finally able to participate at the ICMA World Conference in 1999 as an observer. However, Chin still continued his efforts to bar the PCT group from the ICMA. Luckily, thanks to Mr. Stevenson’s help, the PCT Seamen’s/Fishermen’s Service Center finally returned to the 10th ICMA World Conference in August 2011 as a full member.

Wu Huei-juan, chief executive of the Seamen and Fishermen Welfare Protection Association of the R.O.C., said that Mr. Stevenson has been observing the effort that Taiwan is devoting to international maritime affairs. Therefore, he knows a great deal about the great contribution of the PCT Seamen’s/Fishermen’s Service Center to Taiwanese seamen and fishermen. As a result, after being elected chairman of the ICMA, the first thing Mr. Stevenson tried to achieve was to help the Center to regain its ICMA membership.

For Mr. Stevenson, excluding the Center from the IMCA simply because of the word “Taiwan” in its name was not a reasonable excuse. Therefore, he tried hard to make the IMCA executive committee see Taiwan’s numerous contributions to international maritime affairs. Due to Mr. Stevenson’s efforts, and after being rejected for 17 years, the PCT Seamen’s/ Fishermen’s Service Center could finally join the 10th ICMA held in Hamburg, Germany as a member.

The ICMA was founded in London in 1969. As a non-profit organization (NGO), ICMA aims to provide care and protection to seamen and fishermen as well as their families. Why is being a member of ICMA so important? ICMA represents 526 seamen and fishermen service centers in 126 different countries. ICMA not only strives to provide for the welfare of seamen and fishermen, but also provides humanitarian aid. Therefore, this organization has a great influence on international maritime affairs.

Wu Huei-juan said that in order to acknowledge Mr. Stevenson’s great help as well as his important influence, MOFA decided to invite him to Taiwan so that he could share his knowledge and experiences with some R.O.C. government units, such as the Fisheries Agency. In particular, as Mr. Stevenson is an expert in maritime piracy, the government wanted his input in regard to the problem of fishing boats or trading vessel that have been abducted by pirates.

Rescuing vessels or seamen in distress requires assistance from international civil society groups and the ICMA. Wu Huei-juan shared about an incident that occurred last year. A Taiwanese fishing boat was detained in Papua New Guinea. After being notified by a local Catholic priest who belongs to an ICMA member organization, the PCT Seamen’s/Fishermen’s Service Center learned about this news and immediately set out to help the fishermen. With a lot of effort, the fishing boat and the fishermen were released within one month. The Center was also pleased to successfully complete this rescue mission.

Stevenson with PCT General Secretary Andrew Chang

Photo by Lin Yi-ying

 


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