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3135 Edition
March 26-April 1, 2012
Headline News

PCT North Synod celebrates 140th anniversary of Mackay’s arrival via bike tour and essay competition

Reported by Chen Wei-chien, Lin Yi-ying and Sam Lee

Written by Lydia Ma

Cycling around Taiwan has become an cool trend in recent years and a few people have even attempted touring this island country by foot. However, long before trekking became a cool trend, revered missionary and doctor to Taiwan, George Leslie Mackay, had already trekked across northern Taiwan to visit and plant churches. To remember Mackay’s legacy and celebrate 140 years since he first set foot on Taiwan, Christians in northern Taiwan have decided to retrace Mackay’s footsteps by riding across northern Taiwan and visiting churches built by Mackay.

This cycling event is part of a series of events sponsored by the PCT North Synod to celebrate the 140th anniversary of Mackay’s arrival to Taiwan. It began in Tamsui on March 22, 2012 and concluded at Tashe Presbyterian Church in Taichung two days later and covered a total distance of 200 km. According to reports, it drew 45 participants and 10 of them were seniors in their 60s, including one 75-year-old senior. Local pastors were more than happy to host them and share their history with them as they reminisced and learned about the history of churches founded by Mackay.

According to this cycling event coordinator, Su Wen-kui, he had wanted to organize a trekking event to trace Mackay’s journey in northern Taiwan as early as 10 years ago. But since cycling across the country has become so popular in recent years in Taiwan, he decided to arrange a bicycle tour instead. “Seeing the warm welcome extended by leaders from local churches, especially churches in rural areas, was perhaps the greatest experience for these folks who live mostly in the cities,” said Su. As for the most challenging part of this tour, he said that about one-third of the participants don’t regularly ride their bicycles and some parts of their journey involved steep hills and harsh weather.

Commenting on this year’s celebration events, Su underscored that the publication of Mackay’s diaries was another important highlight. Published in Chinese, “Diary of Mackay” features entries written by Mackay from November 1871 until February 1901. This book records the state of church ministries in northern Taiwan during the 19th century, especially in the fields of medicine and education, and also sheds some light on the social scene at the time.

Su underscored that though Taiwanese society remembers Mackay as a pioneer in the fields of medicine and education, it must not forget that Mackay was a pastor. He hopes that Mackay’s Chinese name, Chieh Jui-li (偕叡理) can be more popularly known and promoted by the Taiwanese public.

Another event sponsored by the PCT North Synod on this occasion is an essay contest held on March 24 where more than 1,000 children took part. Participants were given the option of writing either an English essay or a Chinese essay on topics relating to Mackay or his legacy. Because many children had registered to participate, the contest was held at three venues - Tamkang High School, Oxford College in Aletheia University, and Tamkang Presbyterian Church.

According to Tamkang High School chaplain Tsai San-hsiung, the purpose of this competition is to help students understand Mackay’s legacy and his passion and commitment for sharing the gospel in Taiwan. Participants in this contest were divided into 3 groups – senior high school, junior high school, and elementary school – and given various essay topics to choose from, including “My letter to Mackay”, “If I were Dr. Mackay…”, “Rather burn out than rust out”, and “What Dr. Mackay has taught me”.

One touching story that emerged from this competition is the story of a local church that began teaching about the life and legacy of Mackay recently during Sunday School to encourage its children to take part in this essay competition. Hsintai Presbyterian Church set aside two weeks to teach its children about the life of Mackay and later sent 20 children to participate in this competition.

The results of this competition will be announced and made available online on April 3 and an award ceremony will be held on June 2 at Tamkang High School to coincide with annual Mackay Day celebrated in Tamsui.

 

 
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3135 Edition
March 26-April 1, 2012
Headline News

Wuta indigenous residents protest new tunnel excavation for fear of mudslide

Reported by Chiou Kuo-rong

Written by Lydia Ma

The Suhua Highway Improvement Project is a plan to improve dangerous sections of the Suhua Highway and construction of a 38.4 km long road began in January 2011 in Heping, Hualien. However, indigenous residents living in Nan-ao, Yilan are concerned that Wuta Tunnel, a tunnel to be built near their reservation, will compromise their safety. They blasted the government for failing to consult any local residents in prior environmental assessments for this project.

Wuta residents recently established a self-help committee headed by Atayal Presbytery’s Wuta Presbyterian Church. The church has begun circulating a petition calling for an immediate halt to the construction to the tunnel and has also urged the government not to violate any existing laws, especially the Aboriginal Basic Act, and find a safer route for all.

“Does the government think that the Aboriginal Basic Act is a piece of garbage? It clearly doesn’t respect us – indigenous peoples!” said Wuta Church’s pastor, Rev. Meryang Hayung, angrily, adding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) acted unilaterally when it passed an environmental assessment without consulting the township’s mayor and indigenous residents.

Meryang Mayung underscored that Atayal indigenous groups have the basic right to life and security that the government cannot take away by serving them with a mere notice of construction. She recounted that a few government representatives had arrived at their reservation on the evening of March 13, 2012 to convene a meeting and explain the details of the construction project near their area. Since indigenous residents in Wuta were completely unaware of this project, they asked the MOTC to gather some more information for them and schedule another meeting to discuss this issue further. However, despite their opinions and objections, digging and construction work began the following day.

According to this indigenous self-help committee, Wuta is prone to frequent earthquakes and a hot spot for yearly typhoons. Though indigenous local residents are not expert geologists, they know the land well and they are aware of its fragile bedrock and the shifting of the stratum beneath their feet. The area’s mountains cannot withstand the building of tunnels and local residents fear that mudslides as result of erosion of the land will turn their hometown into another Hsiao-Lin Village.

The committee has vowed to fight this project to the very end and its petition demands that the government respect the Aboriginal Basic Act, halt all construction until indigenous residents agree that it can resume, and reroute the project to safer grounds.  

 
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3134 Edition
March 19-25, 2012
Church Ministry News

Youth advisors learn about characteristics of a leader from indigenous culture and nature

Reported by Sam Lee

Written by Lydia Ma

About 20 youth leaders attended a leadership training camp hosted by the PCT Youth Ministry Committee in Sazasa Mountain near Taitung on March 16-18, 2012. The training included a visit to Sazasa Museum, Bunun Leisure Farm, and a local indigenous church. Youth leaders learned and experienced life as indigenous peoples living in harmony with the forest.

Training youth leaders is one of the most important ministries of the Youth Ministry Committee and it has been promoting the creation of a leaders fellowship in every presbytery and district so that youth leaders from different churches can learn from one another. One of the highlights of this fellowship is the TKC Leadership Training Camp, which provides training and fellowship for these leaders and also provides an opportunity to discuss ministry objectives.

This retreat at Sazasa Mountain was led by Aliman Madikla-an, a Sazasa tour guide and member of Bunun Presbytery. He explained that Sazasa Mountain was almost destroyed a few years ago when an association of Buddhist shrines wanted to buy and develop the land. Through the joint efforts of environmental advocacy groups and Aliman, the mountain was saved from destruction and later transformed into a “natural forest museum”.  

This museum is unlike others of its kind in that it has no signposts or buildings and the forest has been left in its original state. Furthermore, tourists are banned from using cellphones or speaking loudly and the tour guide does not carry a microphone. Aliman explained that these rules were created for the purpose of respecting the flora and fauna in Sazasa.

Aliman led youth leaders to see the renowned “walking trees”, taught them to climb, and introduced them to traditional Bunun grilled meat, buns, and table manners. He also planted a camphor tree with them. During the tree planting, he said that many groups in the past had asked to leave a sign after planting a tree as memento, but he had declined every time. He underscored that trees belong to the forest and not to a certain individual or group.

Using nature as example and backdrop, Aliman reminded these youth leaders about the essence of humility and reminded them that, as mentors, their relationships with others needed to be mutual – not only were they to teach other youths, they were also to learn from them so that both teachers and disciples could mature together by learning from one another.

This retreat also included the viewing of a film on environmental issues and a cultural exchange session with local Bunun church youths where participants discussed indigenous culture and legacy as well as how to lead cell groups so as to edify the faith of church youths.

 

 


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