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3139 Edition
April 23-29, 2012
Editorial

Editorial: Do you still think it’s none of your business?

Translated by Lydia Ma

In one recent episode of the X Games, an athlete used a 2 cm wide nylon soft rope to cross the Enzi Grand Canyon in China at a height of 1,800 meters above sea level. Though such an exhilarating performance was an awesome sight for viewers from around the world, another hair-raising performance has also been broadcast for viewers in Taiwan, albeit without the same level of admiration and applause.

From policies surrounding national defense, disposal of nuclear waste, and US beef imports, to recent urban renewal policies that stirred controversy, the Ma administration has not only gone out on a limb and turned its back on the 23 million people of Taiwan, but also Mr. Ma has put the welfare and safety of the nation on the line.

Faced with these national realities and embarrassing predicaments involving our national defense, diplomatic relations, national economy, and more, should Christians and churches merely seek out the Lord and pray for their daily needs? Or should we seek and pray to work alongside our Lord so that God’s kingdom can be manifested in our world?

Perhaps we can find the answer to these questions by observing the life of Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer – once known as the moral conscience of the Protestant church in Germany. During the time Hitler was in power in Germany, Bonhoeffer noted that church meetings had become very self-serving because many church leaders had become so self-centered that they no longer contended with anti-Semitic laws set by the Nazi government that violated the civil rights of Jewish people. For this reason, he often reminded Christians of their social responsibilities by quoting Proverbs 31:8, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and for the rights of all who are destitute.”

In response to what was happening at the time, Bonhoeffer said that it was a sin for the church to watch the weakest and the most defenseless of all people die under Hitler’s regime and do nothing in response, especially when many of these were fellow Christians. Though Bonhoeffer was later sentenced to death and executed by hanging on the Sunday after Easter in 1945 for refusing to join the army and for treason, he said, “This is the end. But for me, this is the beginning of life.”

Bonhoeffer set an example for all Christians on how to respond to evil governing authorities by standing by his Christian convictions and modeling Christ’s example of sacrifice and service. After all, Jesus once said that he had not come to be served, but rather, to serve others and give his life for all of humanity.

Rev. Dr. Milo Thornberry’s message last week on the topic “People I’ve Met on the ‘Jericho’ Road” underscored how his Christian convictions played a key role in his mission to advance human rights and democracy in Taiwan. He shared this message to encourage Christians in Taiwan to respond to the social issues happening around them and lay down their lives to advance justice – much like Christ exemplified with his life.

Responding to people’s well-intentioned advice to him that he should stay out of a foreign country’s political affairs, Thornberry replied: “I love my country and I thank my church for sending me to Taiwan. But my conscience tells me that I cannot stand by and see these injustices happen without doing something about them. If I ignore what the Americans are doing, it’d be tantamount to saying I agree with what they are doing.”

In short, when a “foreigner” feels compelled to act based on his religious convictions, sense of justice and conscience, how can the Taiwanese people do any less for the land that nurtured and nourished them? We are thankful that God has blessed Taiwanese Christians to the extent that most of us have more than the average person in Taiwan when it comes to material goods. But perhaps this very blessing has become our loss because such wealth has desensitized us from the plight of others and we have forgotten to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

 

 

 
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3138 Edition
April 16-22, 2012
Editorial

Editorial: Bearing past sorrows while moving on in hope

Translated by Lydia Ma

From urban cities to rural townships, the effects of globalization in the past 20 years are felt everywhere in Taiwan. Some of these effects include a drastic change in the moral landscape, as people become so obsessed with economic development that they begin to lose their ability to tell right from wrong. When this happens, the “weak” are sacrificed or the land is undermined. But there is still a glimmer of hope despite these trends because there are still a few people willing to make efforts to develop and protect their communities and make them better places.

Smangus Indigenous Reservation is a Christian community based on mutual trust and mutual love. What makes this community special is that its members have chosen to forego their own personal interests and financial profits to work together on a plot of land together. The proceeds collected from each year’s harvest from this land are used to develop their community even further.

To protect their traditional lifestyle, the community underwent many hardships. Adults impacted the younger generation by setting examples and living out daily everything they taught. As result, the younger generation learned to appreciate their indigenous traditions and respect and live in harmony with the land and the natural environment.

However, much like the story of the early Christian church in the Acts of the Apostles, such a great fellowship between the people living in Smangus was eventually broken by one or two individuals who simply didn’t share the same vision as the rest of the community. Their lack of confidence in their community’s ability to provide for them financially, their short-sightedness, coupled with the intrusion of greedy corporations soon led to discord. In the end, this small minority’s lack of good judgment and confidence in their community, as well as their short-sightedness, opened the way for greedy corporations to step in and take advantage of this situation, resulting in shame and dishonor for the entire community.

Smangus is known for being an idyllic place full of hope, but this hope has been robbed in recent years. We pray that the Holy Spirit will breathe new life into this community once again, so that it can continue stepping forward in mutual trust and love despite all the woes and worldly temptations of the day. Our hope echoes what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-5: “We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.”

The struggles faced by Smangus Reservation are also common struggles for the Christian church in the 21st century. As the global economic system becomes more complex, Taiwanese may discover more and more cases of collusion between corporate leaders and political leaders, and find that there is nothing they can do to stop it, as it has become like an unrestrained beast. They may also discover more and more people willing to bear the “mark” of this “beast” and serve it in order to do business and make some profits or create some sort of safety net for themselves. In the end, some people may be so tempted that they become willing accomplices to crimes perpetuated by this “beast”, and the church may not be exempt from such a temptation.

PCT General Assembly elected new leaders and a new General Secretary at the conclusion of last week’s annual convention. In face of all of these problems faced by our country, these new leaders are entrusted with the great challenge of bearing past sorrows and standing their ground against the “beast”. We hope that our new PCT leaders will have the necessary determination to carry on this mission.

 
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3138 Edition
April 16-22, 2012
Headline News

Milo Thornberry’ keynote address highlights past history of Taiwan and future mission of the PCT

Reported Sam Lee, Lin Yi-ying

Written by Lydia Ma

Rev. Milo Thornberry, an advocate for democracy in Taiwan in the 1960s and 1970s and a key player in helping Peng Ming-min smuggle out of Taiwan safely, was invited to give a keynote address at the PCT 57th General Assembly on April 12, 2012. Thornberry spoke on how his faith played a crucial role in his mission to advance Taiwanese democracy during those years and encouraged Taiwanese Christians to follow Jesus’ example as told in the Parable of the Good Samaritan by devoting themselves to righteousness and justice and caring for Taiwanese society.

Many of the people Thornberry had worked with or helped in the past while he was still in Taiwan were in the audience on the day he delivered his address entitled “People I’ve met on the ‘Jericho’ road”, including former PCT General Secretary C.M. Kao and his wife Ruth, and Peng Ming-min and his wife, and they wiped away tears as they reminisced the past. Thornberry referred to Kao, who was imprisoned soon after the Kaohsiung Incident, and other political prisoners who sacrificed their lives for Taiwan as “good Samaritans” who practiced what they believed.

Recounting his experience, Thornberry said that meeting with Peng had opened his eyes to the corrupt and ruthless nature of the KMT and such a revelation compelled him to alert Amnesty International later on with a list of political prisoners. When he realized that Peng was in danger of being assassinated, he arranged to have Peng smuggled out of Taiwan and sent to Sweden for safety.

Recalling how many people advised him to stay out of the political affairs of another country, Thornberry said that such a reasoning would have ensured his safety, but added, “I love my country and I thank my church for sending me to Taiwan. But my conscience tells me that I cannot stand by and see these injustices happen without doing something about them. If I ignore these things, I become an accomplice. Because of my convictions, I have decided to take action.”

Thornberry underscored that the future of Taiwan is filled with obstacles and many challenges remain. For this reason, Taiwan needs more “Good Samaritans” who are willing to take a stand for justice and love this nation enough to do their utmost to set her free. “Only Taiwanese people have the right to determine their own future!” he said.

In related news, 34 guests representing various churches and Christian organizations around the world attended this year’s PCT Annual Convention. Delegates from Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, U.S.A, Canada and more met with the General Assembly Moderator Rev. Pusin Tali at a breakfast meeting scheduled in the morning of April 11. Pusin Tali gave a brief introduction of PCT ministries at that meeting to help these representatives know more about the PCT and its ministries and the meeting was followed by a tour of the hospital led by CCH Superintendent Kuo Shou-jen.

To read the full text of Thornberry’s address, go to PCT website (English section) or click on the following link: http://english.pct.org.tw/enNews_pct.aspx?strBlockID=B00176&strContentid=C2012041700007&strCTID=&strDesc=Y&strPub=&strASP=enNews_pct

 


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