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3135 Edition
March 26-April 1, 2012
General Assembly News

New Hakka Bible to be published in April 2012

Reported by Lin Yi-ying

Written by Lydia Ma

After 26 years of arduous work, Bible Society in Taiwan (BST) and PCT Hakka Mission Committee announced that the “Hakka Bible: Contemporary Taiwanese Hakka Version” will be published in April 2012. A thanksgiving service marking its publication will be held on April 22 at National Chiao-Tung University to celebrate the first printing of this new Bible.

“When people use their mother tongue to converse, those words can really make an impression in people’s hearts,” said BST General Secretary Tsai Ling-chen quoting Nelson Mandela. For this reason, the publication of Hakka Bible is a milestone in the publication of mother language Bibles in Taiwan. “Mother languages play an important role in ethnic self-identification and passing on cultural heritage.”

Tsai underscored that under the long reign of the KMT in Taiwan, Mandarin became Taiwan’s official language and, consequently, the Chinese Union Bible became the best-selling Bible in Taiwan. However, Bible Society in Taiwan (BST) maintains that the influence mother languages exert on people should not be underestimated either. For this reason, it has spared no effort over the years in translating and producing Bibles in various mother languages in Taiwan. Besides publishing a Taiwanese Bible, it has also helped indigenous peoples across Taiwan produce Taroko, Amis, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Tsou, and Sediq Bibles.

Tsai said she was especially grateful for the help she received from previous general secretaries of the BST, in addition to the support she received from the Presbyterian Church in Canada, PCT Hakka Mission Committee, and the long years of commitment from the Committee of Hakka Bible Translators. “Translating the Bible is extremely time consuming and requires a lot of human and financial resources,” Tsai said.

Tsai added that the first edition of the Hakka Bible, totaling 6,000 copies, was printed in South Korea to ensure quality because South Korea has many agencies skilled in Bible printing as the number of Christians in South Korea is very high compared to Taiwan.

As for how these 6,000 copies will be distributed, the PCT Hakka Mission Committee has ordered 1,500 copies, Hakka Presbytery and local Hakka fellowships have ordered 2,500 copies, the Christian Hakka Evangelical Association has ordered 1,000 copies, and the remaining 1,000 copies will be marketed by TBS.

This new Hakka Bible comes in three types of covers – red, blue, and leather – and though translators have opted for contemporary Hakka language, they have also emphasized on the clarity and fluidity of the text. However, as the use of Hakka language varies between regions, TBS has urged for understanding and patience on the part of Hakka groups across Taiwan.

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3135 Edition
March 26-April 1, 2012

Editorial: Church schools need to combine founding vision with fresh ideas

Translated by Lydia Ma

According to the PCT church calendar, the first Sunday of April is Church School Sunday, an occasion set aside to remember the purpose and function of schools founded by the PCT. If we exclude seminaries from the list of church schools, then, the list of PCT church schools today would include: Tamkang High School, Aletheia University, Mackay Medicine, Nursing, and Management College, Mackay Medical College, Chang-Jung Senior High School, Chang-Jung Girls’ Senior High School, and Chang-Jung Christian University.

With the exception of Mackay Medical College, all of these institutions were founded by Western missionaries over 100 years ago. Looking back, we marvel that despite the scarcity of resources available to missionaries at the time, they were nevertheless very determined to establish these schools. Their efforts at the time are worth pondering upon for they may provide us with some answers to the question, “What is the purpose of church schools today?”

Western missionaries who founded schools in Taiwan were not only leading proponents of mass education in Taiwan, but also leading critics of a sexist culture at a time when men were valued over women. As a means to rid Taiwanese society of this prejudice, missionaries began to advocate for formal education for women and a halt to cultural practices that oppressed women, such as foot-binding. More importantly, they began to instill Christian values into the hearts of younger generations and shape thoughts of the next generation via education in schools.

The demand for education and learning institutions in Taiwan at the turn of the 20th century was very high, which made church schools attractive and outstanding at the time. However, times have changed and school admission rates nowadays allegedly exceed 100% after public and private institutions are taken into account. This transformation not only puts Christian schools in direct competition with public and private schools in terms of securing enrollments every year, it also pressures them to outperform other schools in the category of producing outstanding graduates who go on to prestigious universities and big corporations – perhaps the only marker of a good school in prevailing public opinion.

However, is producing graduates who go on to prestigious corporations and universities the original founding vision of these Christian schools? Will church schools follow the prevailing social trend that worships academic degrees or can they provide an alternative educational philosophy and curriculum that is far better in comparison?

Public schools in France are forbidden from disseminating religious values in their curriculum and Muslim women student are forbidden from wearing a hijabs in public schools. Under such circumstances, Muslim schools have become a refuge where students can practice their religious beliefs and exercise freedom of religion.

A quick overview of other countries shows that Japanese church schools refused to incorporate patriotic values into their curriculum as prescribed by the government because they felt that these values were manipulative. Church schools in the Africa, a continent ravaged by civil war, have been known for their contributions to improving agricultural work and public health.

What about Taiwan? Can Taiwanese church schools carve out a path that is both original and different from the values advocated in public schools and governments that only focus on the accumulation and worship of degrees? Rev. Ichiro Yamauchi, former chairman of the board of directors of Japan’s Association of Christian Schools, once said, “As we face the social pressures of the day, we must remember to keep an eye on the future. The purpose and mission of church schools in this society is to teach people to have the courage to hope.”

As Taiwan faces the difficult road ahead, marred by crises of self-identity and a government keen on muddling issues and revising history for its own short-term gains, uncertainty about the future of the country abounds. However, we can begin reversing the tide and influencing this culture to think with eternity in mind through education. It is high time for us to rediscover the passion that fueled former missionaries and in so doing give this generation the ability to dream of creating a diverse and better society.

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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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