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3137 Edition
April 9-15, 2012
Editorial

Editorial: A 21st century Taiwanese version of Naboth’s Vineyard

Translated by Lydia Ma

Yang Kui, a prominent writer during the time Taiwan was colonized by Japan, once wrote a fictional story to depict the injustices Taiwanese people faced during that time. In this story, a wealthy and powerful hospital superintendent and a peasant went on business venture that meant a lot to the peasant but required a lot of money and help from the rich superintendent.

At one point in the story, the superintendent became obsessed with one of the peasant’s family pet – a goose – and insinuated that the goose would make a great gift and a great means for the peasant to show his appreciation. Knowing full well that his children loved the goose and considered it a family member, the peasant couldn’t bear to give it away and the superintendent went away disappointed.

However, the superintendent soon began to withhold money needed for this venture to proceed and the peasant learned that the only way to keep the partnership and deal from falling apart was to give away the goose his family so dearly loved. Soon after gifting this goose to the superintendent, all the financial problems surrounding this venture were solved.

According to Yang, the moral of this story is that there is no such thing as “mutual prosperity” in a colonial system, no matter how hard a colonizer may try to convince the world otherwise. To our disappointment, barely 50 years after the Japanese colonization ended in Taiwan, the same kind of injustice is happening in our society. Only this time, the injustice is being perpetrated by governments and businesses – legally, openly, and in the name of development.

Just when the Wenlin Yuan Urban Renewal Project and the forced eviction of the Wang family captured national headlines, reports surfaced that a Catholic Church in Nantun, Taichung with a land mass of roughly 1,300 ping (1 ping is the equivalent of 3.306 square meters) is also being re-zoned and expropriated. The church currently has a building that serves as a place where students can go for after-school tutoring and after-school activities and these services are offered free of charge. However, these spaces may soon be replaced by luxury apartments as the construction firm has already claimed the land.

In response to this forced eviction, Father Gao Funan, a Congolese priest who oversees this church and its ministries said during a press conference: “If they want to take away this piece of land to help children and seniors or shelter homeless people in the east coast, I have no problem with that. But if they want to sell our land to line their own pockets, I will oppose this expropriation to the very end.”

The plight of Father Gao and the Wang family is eerily similar to the story of Naboth the Jezreelite described in the Bible in 1 Kings 21. In this story, Naboth’s refusal to sell his vineyard to King Ahab resulted in Naboth’s death in the hands of Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. However, the prophet Elijah also pronounced judgment and doom on Ahab and Jezebel because of their evil deeds and his prophesy is fulfilled later on in the story when Jezebel’s died a violent death during a coup.

You could say that Naboth’s vineyard, which he inherited from his father, stood in the way of King Ahab’s “Urban Renewal Act” because, unlike Ahab, Naboth wasn’t interested in earthly riches or glory and only wanted to live in peace and enjoy the fruits of his labor. Furthermore, Naboth was a God-fearing man who knew that, according to Jewish law, he could not sell the land of his ancestors.

In the end, Naboth died and his land was stolen from him because he was simply no match for a band of people who plotted against him using whatever means necessary to accomplish their goal – including forgery, false witnessing, and lawful execution of a wrongheaded government orders. But Naboth’s story is not irrelevant to contemporary Taiwanese society - we only need to replace the cast of characters in this story with a few individuals we’ve seen and heard a lot in the newspapers in recent weeks to come to this realization.

Unjust regimes are not a thing of the past and tragic stories detailing the plight of the Wang family, the Catholic Church in Nantun, the farmers in Dapu and their razed rice fields are only a few examples that prove this is the case. So, don’t say that what happened to these folks will not one day happen to you and your house, or your local church, or the PCT General Assembly office. As long as an unjust regime is in power, it is very possible.

In face of such an unjust, ridiculous, and disorderly conduct, how much longer can we remain silent? Should we not speak out against evil like the Prophet Elijah, who said, “God’s word: What’s going on here? First murder, then theft? God’s verdict: The very spot where the dogs lapped up Naboth’s blood, they’ll lap up your blood – that’s right, your blood.”

 
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3137 Edition
April 9-15, 2012
Headline News

Taichung youths use "flash mobs" to share the Gospel during Easter

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Tsai Sheng-hsin

On April 8th, the Fengyuan zone belonging Taichung Presbytery Youth Ministry hosted the “Easter ‘8 Beatitudes’ Flash Mobs”. Gathering at SOGO Department Store in Fengyuan, Fengyuan Train Station, and Miao Dong Night Market, participants sang and danced to the song “8 Beatitudes”. The whole activity concluded with the singing of Gospel songs and participants also distributed Gospel tracts.

Flash mobs are a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, and sing, dance, or perform an unusual act for a short while, then quickly disperse. Lin Chia-yi, the planner of this event, was worried in the beginning that participants might be too shy to perform in public. However, it turned out that everyone enjoyed this event and even interacted with peers they didn’t know very well before this event.

“Easter is such a special day. Therefore, it's wonderful if young people can go out and share the Gospel on that day. When we were planning the event, someone suggested using flash mobs. Flash mobs have been a trend among young people to express their ideas. Also, the song ‘8 Beatitudes’ fits very well,” said Lin.

Rev. Chen Ming-wen, pastor of the Fengyuan Presbyterian Church, approved the event and said that every generation had its own way of expressing itself. The pastor of Daya Presbyterian Church, Rev. Chang Jia-shing also supported this event. She indicated that in the past, PCT always gave people an impression of being conservative. “However, it is important to go out to share the Gospel. This is a starting point and it can be the kindling younger generations need to be more active,” she said.

Chuan Sheng-yu, the director of the Taichung Presbytery’s Youth Ministry, said that this year, the youth section would focus on the Fengyuan district and the coastal district. These two districts have been left out for a long time, due to their distance from downtown Taichung. Chuan also admired the flash mob event. “Young people in church are normally shy when it comes to these kinds of activities; however, this time, they were not afraid to express their thoughts and they were very brave. It is really laudable,” she said.

 

 
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3136 Edition

April 2-8, 2012

Church Ministry News

Taiwanese Christians to take the gospel to Myanmar in short-term mission

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Lydia Ma

Taiwan Frontier Association is currently getting ready for a third round of short-term mission to Myanmar. The association held an information and sharing session on Myanmar short-term missions at Jhongsiao Road Presbyterian Church in Taichung on March 31, 2012 to encourage Christians in Taiwan to reach out to people in Myanmar and share the gospel with them.

The session was chaired by the association’s general-secretary, Pastor Lai Yi-sui, and those who went to Myanmar in last year’s short-term mission shared about their experiences. Many of them were moved to tears as they reminisced about this trip.

This is not the first time that a session like this has been held at Jhongsiao Road Church. A similar session was held previously on the theme of “backpacking missionaries” in collaboration with Taiwan Theological College and Seminary (TTCS), a partner organization of the Taiwan Frontier Association (TFA).

Most members of TFA are TTCS students or faculty members who have a burden for domestic and overseas missions, said Lai, adding that it’s been 3 years since they began reaching out to people in Myanmar. The goal for this year’s mission trip to Myanmar is to assemble a team of 40 volunteers.

Conditions in Myanmar remain precarious despite some improvement over the past year. Lai reported that he was pressured by Myanmar authorities last year when he tried to organize an event. “For the time being, we can only organize events promoting Chinese culture and hopefully share the gospel through such events,” said Lai. He also thanked a few Taiwanese businessmen for their support, which played an important role in the smooth completion of last year’s events.

Lai added that, in the past, the overall impression among Christians is that short-missions are much like important assignments that should be left in the hands of professionals. ”But we want to invite anyone who feels led to participate to go on missions trips. Mackay once said that everyone is a missionary,” he said.

In preparation for the upcoming mission trip to Myanmar, Taiwan Frontier Association will sponsor 3 training sessions to prepare participants. These sessions include seminars on local culture, itinerary analysis, and nurturing team spirit. “We hope that our brothers and sisters in Christ will learn about God’s perspectives of his kingdom on this short-term mission trip. We hope that they will be able to reach out to more people, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, and become more aware of social issues,” Lai said. But he also added that the greatest reward of this trip for everyone will be experiencing God first-hand.

That being said, “most Christians in Taiwan have grown used to their predictable pattern of church life. Going abroad on a short-term mission can reignite their passion and prompt them to think about what they can do to bless others. Meanwhile, Christians in Myanmar can benefit from this outpouring of love and support. At the end of the day, short-term missions are good for both sending and receiving churches.”

Many people who went to last year’s mission trip still remember the hardships faced by ministers in Myanmar. One of them commented that after returning from Myanmar, he felt that Taiwan was a prosperous country that had been very blessed because there are no language barriers among Taiwanese and, compared to Myanmar, it is relatively easy to share the gospel in Taiwan.

 


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