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3136 Edition
April 2~8, 2012
Headline News

Christian youths join masses in protest over controversial urban project’s infringement of dwelling rights

Reported by Simon Lin

Written by Lydia Ma

The Taipei City government forcibly evicted a family surnamed Wang on March 28, 2012 from their home in Shilin District to make way for a new housing complex, which is part of a bigger urban renewal project known as the Wenlin Yuan Urban Renewal Project. According to reports, it issued permits to Le Young Construction to rezone and pre-sell housing units before construction and before obtaining consent from the Wang family, who owned the land and had repeatedly declined to sell.

On the day of the eviction, the city government dispatched about 1,000 police officers to the site to forcibly expel nearly 300 protesters, mostly college students and professors, who had come to support the Wang family and defend their rights. Backhoes were sent to demolish the house on that day though there were still people inside the house, prompting outrage and fear from the crowd as it became clear that, “If they demolish the Wang’s house today, then, they may well demolish my house tomorrow.”

This incident has now become the focus of news reports across Taiwan, prompting backlash in many quarters. Those who support the Wang family are demanding an immediate examination of the constitutionality of this project and a change in policies governing urban development.

On March 29, which happened to be Youth Day in Taiwan, Rev. Yang Po-wen from Taipei College Ministry Committee brought a dozen of church youths and some students from Taiwan Theological College and Seminary (TTCS) to attend a protest held in front of Taipei City Hall. It became a good opportunity to turn faith into action by supporting the weak and oppressed.

According to the Alliance of Victims of Urban Renewal Project, when the city government handed out building permits to Le Young Construction before ensuring that an agreement with residents in the area had been secured, its utter disregard for residents’ rights was obvious. The Alliance said that the Wang’s were not notified that their land would be appropriated until the very last minute – long after the land had been rezoned and sold to a third party by Le Young Construction.

Current laws stipulate that as long as a construction firm has obtained the consent of 75 percent of the property owners on a site, it can ask the government to demolish the rest of the buildings without the consent of the remaining owners. However, allegations by Le Young Construction that only a very small fraction of residents in that neighborhood had opposed the project are false because as many as 43% of area residents had opposed the project but were pressured into giving up their lands.

DPP legislator Yu Mei-nu said that the Wang’s were not the kind of people to intentionally raise the price of a house to NT$200 million to make a profit. The reason they set such a price was to discourage Le Young from trying to acquire the land in which their family has lived for 6 generations. However, not only did Le Young bribe the media into discrediting the Wang’s, it also misled the other 36 households into giving up their homes.

On March 29, some students decided to go to Taipei City Council to protest against the city’s mayor, Hau Lung-bin. Upon hearing this news and seeing how this event would be a good opportunity for Christian youths to become socially active and live out their faith, a few staff from Taipei College Ministry invited students to attend. They were later joined by 7 other students from TTCS.

When they arrived at the square in front of the Taipei City Council, students took turns voicing their views on these urban renewal projects. Taiwan Seminary Student Chiang Chih-hao said these projects should be undertaken with respect for people’s right to property at all times and if a minority of people do not want to move, their wishes should nevertheless be respected and an alternative plan should then be devised. Another student said bluntly that the government had broken the 10th Commandment wherein God commands his people not to covet other people’s possessions, which includes houses. TTCS students and faculty vowed to participate in future marches to support dwelling rights.

 
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3136 Edition
April 2~8, 2012
Headline News

Churches in Changhua mark Passion Week with daily services

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Lydia Ma

In recent years, more and more churches are arranging daily services on Passion week to encourage Christians to take time out from their busy schedules to remember Christ’s suffering and resurrection. An example of such a church is Changhua Presbyterian Church, which is offering an hour-long silent prayer service from 12:00-13:00 and a communion service at 19:30 every day throughout this year’s Easter week (April 2-7, 2012), in addition to a Good Friday candlelight service.

Changhua Church has been scheduling daily services on Easter week in the past 6 years. According to the church’s pastor, Rev. Lee Chih-jen, “The goal of these services is to incorporate Jesus’ suffering into the faith and life of the congregation so that people may grow in spiritual maturity.” To inspire his flock, Lee has devised a theme for every service throughout Holy Week.

Taking this year’s services as example, Lee said that on Holy Monday, the congregation kneels in front of the communion table to receive communion. On Holy Tuesday, the pastor and the elders break bread and distribute it to the congregation. On Holy Wednesday, the traditional bread and wine is replaced by local equivalents such as yam and millet wine. On Maundy Thursday, the pastor performs a foot washing ceremony for the congregation. Finally, during Good Friday’s candlelight service, every participant lights a candle and places it beside the lectern during the service. At th end of the service, participants blow out a candle to signify that they have been crucified with Christ on the cross.

The noontime silent prayer service at Changhua Church invites participants to take a short break from their work and come to church to read, meditate, and pray on a Bible passage selected by the church on that day. “We do this to encourage our congregation to make church the center of their lives. We hope that they can draw near to God despite their busy work schedule – even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes,” Lee said.

Similarly, Huatan Presbyterian Church in Changhua holds evening prayer services from Holy Monday to Maundy Thursday to remember the passion and suffering of Jesus and joins Changhua Presbytery in a Good Friday service. “Jesus’ suffering is still occurring in many parts of the world today,” said Huatan Church’s pastor, Rev. Chao Ling-chi. “That is the reason why we pray for different ethnic groups every day and we also pray for the homeless people that come to our church.” She added that about 10 homeless people regularly attend her church’s Sunday worship right now.

 
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3136 Edition
April 2~8, 2012
Editorial

Editorial: Do not doubt – He is risen, indeed!

Translated by Lydia Ma

Easter Sunday marks the day when Jesus rose from the dead after dying on the cross to save the world. Jesus’ resurrection and his appearing to many people are recorded in the gospels of Mark and John and later supported by the testimony of the apostle Paul (see 1 Corinthians 15:14-17). Rev. Dr. David Wesley Soper, a 20th century Methodist pastor in the U.S.A, once said that Jesus’ resurrection pulled back the curtain between heaven and earth and afforded us a peek at what life after death looks like.

Lee Strobel, a former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune was a professional journalist specializing in investigative reporting before he became a Christian. As an expert on judicial cases, he emphasized on the importance of in court cases and deemed mere personal convictions as inadmissible, insufficient and unconvincing proofs. Though many people had shared the gospel with Strobel over the years, he refused to believe because he thought these people had no evidence to back their claims.

When Strobel’s wife accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior one day, he was greatly perturbed and feared that his wife would turn into a narrow-minded legalist. To his surprise, his wife’s personality changed for the better and she became more optimistic and self-confident than ever before. Ever the inquisitive journalist, Strobel began to investigate Jesus’ resurrection as he would investigate a court case through mechanisms normally used in court proceedings, including the use of eye witnesses, formal documents, circumstantial evidences, counter-evidences, medical evidences, scientific studies, and even fingerprints. He also talked with 13 internationally renowned Bible scholars in person.

After 2 years of extensive investigations, Strobel concluded to his surprise that Jesus’ resurrection was neither a myth nor a superstition, but rather a historical fact. Deeply impacted by his findings, Strobel not only accepted Christ but also became a devout Christian. His journey to uncover the truth for himself later became a best-selling Christian apologetics book titled The Case for Christ.

Strobel’s initial goal in investigating Jesus’ resurrection was to uncover the truth. If Jesus’ resurrection were an hoax, he would lay out all evidences he’d found and counter one of the central claims of Christianity as a fallacy. To his surprise, he discovered after extensive investigation that Christ’s resurrection was indeed true, came to Christ, and then wrote The Case for Christ, which has become a Christian apologetics classic.

In The Case for Christ, Strobel wrote that in the process of investigating whether the resurrection was true, he had put aside all personal prejudices, researched many books , asked many questions, delved into historical and archaeological evidences, and read the Bible from cover-to-cover for the first time in his life. He underscored that never before had he been as focused in uncovering the truth behind a case.

We can be thankful on this Easter that through the power of Jesus’ resurrection, not only did Christ achieve salvation for us, but also demonstrated God’s incomparable love toward us. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the foundations of Christianity – freeing us from the slavery of sin and cementing our hope for everlasting life.

 


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