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Taiwan Church News
3174 Edition
December 24-30, 2012
Headline News

Taiwan Church Press Men’s Choir shares songs and testimonies at Taichung Prison

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Lydia Ma

Taiwan Church Press (TCP) Men’s Choir was recently invited to sing and share testimonies at Taichung Prison. This opportunity marked the first time that the group had done any prison ministry and this special concert was very well received by the audience of roughly 200 inmates. The choir had previously travelled to many churches across Taiwan with TCP President Joseph Chen to fundraise for the organization. TCP is an organization affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and focuses on communication ministries.

The event was held on December 14, 2012 and it was designed as a Christmas concert. The TCP Men’s Choir also partnered with renowned Taiwanese church music composer Cheng Ming-tang and his team. Cheng performed many of his trademark gospel songs on that day and the TCP Men’s Choir performed 4 songs. Following their presentation, a former inmate shared his testimony and recounted how he survived prison and overcame cancer. TCP President Joseph Chen then preached a powerful sermon and made a brief presentation of all TCP ministries. The concert ended with an altar call and there were many tears and raised hands.

TCP Men’s Choir director Tseng Hsin-cheng said that Cheng Ming-tang was currently the editor of TCP’s music magazine. Cheng was invited to perform at Taichung Prison and the Men’s Choir joined him. Tseng added that TCP currently mails Keng-sim evangelistic brochures to prisons, but that is the extent in which TCP has ever been involved in prison ministry. Taichung Prison had never received Keng-sim before, but it subscribed on that day and asked for 200 copies per week.

TCP President Joseph Chen said that being invited to sing at a prison was a brand new experience for his organization. He thanked the members of the Men’s Choir for their devotion to this ministry because they were all volunteers who took time to practice every week and they also traveled with him frequently.

During his sermon, Chen also highlighted that Taiwan Church News had begun a new monthly publication called “Parent-Child Interactive Newspaper” in the past few months and it had received very good reviews. He asked for the continued support of Christians in Taiwan for communications ministries in the upcoming year.

 
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Taiwan Church News
3174 Edition
December 24-30, 2012
Headline News

Taiwan Association for Human Rights urges government to protect the rights of refugees in Taiwan

Reported by Simon Lin

Written by Lydia Ma

A symposium on the theme “Invisible Refugees” was held recently at National Cheng Kung University sponsored by Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR). The symposium underscored how Taiwan should take a proactive stand in protecting refugees in this age of increased migration around the world due to economic, political, religious, and environmental factors.

According to TAHR, the definition of a refugee in the strictest sense of the word is someone who has had to leave his home country due to political, economic, or religious persecution. This includes people who have been trafficked into other countries and those who must leave their home countries because their basic human rights have been compromised. Some examples include Muslims in Myanmar, Chinese human rights activists, and the Dalai Lama. In some instances, these people have not been able to receive any citizenship.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are about 4.2 million refugees in the whole world and 3.79 million of them are from Asia. Furthermore, women under 18 years of age comprise more than 50% of refugees. In order to protect refugees, countries must first be signatories of the UN’s Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, comply with UNHCR procedures, and give refugees an official refugee identification number. Only then will refugees be protected and be able to enjoy some basic protection and benefits. However, the sad fact is that many people today have been unable to obtain an official status and must consequently continue to live as rejected and displaced people.

According to the TAHR, there are indeed refugees living in Taiwan as well as Taiwanese refugees abroad. During the Martial Law, many Taiwanese were forced to flee the country due to government oppression. Today, many people persecuted by Beijing have fled to Taiwan, including hundreds of Tibetans and 9 Chinese dissidents. There are also some descendants of former Burmese and Thai army soldiers who fled the border between Burma and Thailand living in Taiwan. When these soldiers first fled to Taiwan, they were charged with unlawful entry and detained at a center for foreigners. Though they were later released due to public pressure on the government, they have been forced to live on government assistance and in perpetual poverty because they haven’t been able to secure permanent residency, right to work, etc.

Because of these reasons, the TAHR is now urging the Ma administration to legislate laws that would protect the rights and well-being of refugees in Taiwan. Though the Ma administration had signed an international agreement in 2009 and promised to never deport asylum seekers who might be persecuted if sent back, it has yet to give these refugees an official status that would safeguard their basic rights and well-being while living in Taiwan. In contrast, other countries in East Asia such as Japan and South Korea have passed laws that would grant refugees official status and give them means to protect themselves.

The TAHR is currently pressing the Ma administration to pass a reasonable law to protect refugees and amend the Cross-Strait Relations Act so that Chinese refugees can be protected from deportation. It hopes that the legislature will not bow to pressure from Beijing nor delay this matter due to political considerations.

 
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Taiwan Church News
3174 Edition
December 24-30, 2012
Headline News

Changhua churches and organizations hope to make Christmas parade a tradition

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Lydia Ma

For the past 5 years, churches across Changhua have held a joint Christmas parade because Christmas is a good occasion to mingle and talk with their fellow citizens who might have never heard about the Gospel or the Christmas story. This celebration has often attracted a big crowd as curious people come to watch and take pictures. Christians hope that by holding this event annually, Christmas parades might eventually become part of Changhua City’s tradition and the Gospel may become known to people in the area as result.

Various Christian organizations such as the Song River Social Welfare Foundation, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua Holiness Church, Changhua Bethel Church, and Yungfu Presbyterian Church were in charge of hosting the event this year, called “Christmas Cultural Festival 2012 – Parade and Caroling”. The event was held in the evening at the plaza in front of the Changhua Arts Museum and it featured performances from various church fellowships and college bands. Changhua Girls Senior High School’s dance club performed a routine and Changhua High School’s guitar band also performed a song. Changhua Mayor Chiu Chien-fu made an appearance to give a short speech. Changhua Bread of Life pastor, Rev. Liu Yong-hsing, preached on the true meaning of Christmas.

When the march finally began, several local school drum bands performed songs during the procession. Some people in the band were also assigned to direct traffic. The procession circled the train station various times, and youths handed out Gospel tracks and small Christmas gifts to people, before returning to the plaza. The Christmas parade car that accompanied them also caught the eye of many passersby.

According to the Song River Social Welfare Foundation, many youths who took part in the parade this year were looking forward to it because they had taken part in it last year and loved the experience. An event such as this one is also a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel with students and local residents taking part in the parade. “Changhua region should be popular for more than its Matsu festivals. The reason churches have been holding this Christmas festival in recent years is because we want this Christmas festival to become part of the city’s cultural tradition.”

The Christmas parade was a successful way to share the Gospel with people.

Photo by Chen Wei-chien

 


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