March 19-25, 2012
Church Ministry News
Shou-shan Presbytery establishes Indonesian gospel center to reach out to foreign workers in Taiwan
Reported by Simon Lin
Written by Lydia Ma
The number of non-Taiwanese spouses and foreign workers in Taiwan has increased steadily in the past few years and these two groups now account for about 400,000 people, just slightly less than the number of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. This trend was noted by Shou-shan Presbytery’s Ministers’ Committee in 2011, which prompted the latter to contemplate creating gospel centers for a prominent subgroup made up mostly of caregivers from Indonesia. “Indonesian New Immigrants Gospel Center” was established recently to serve Indonesian women in Kaohsiung area and the committee urged churches in Kaohsiung area to relay this news to Indonesian women in their churches.
According to the center’s convener, Rev. Chuang Ying-jen, the idea to establish such a center was brought up 10 years ago by Kaohsiung Christian Family Association former director Fong Sih-he when the association first began to reach out to Indonesian workers. This ministry eventually began at Chung-Sheng Presbyterian Church in 2008 in the form of small groups and Indonesian worship services. The ministry moved to Hsin-Hsing Presbyterian Church near Formosa Boulevard Station in 2011 for the convenience of those attending the meetings.
According to Fong, Indonesian Gospel Center is now headed by “Eliza” – an Indonesian woman whose husband is Taiwanese. Eliza grew up in a Christian family and had a hard time adjusting to life in Taiwan during the first few years of her marriage. She felt very homesick and often argued with her husband. However, God became her solace and helped her overcome difficult circumstances.
After being comforted by God, she began to share the gospel with fellow Indonesians and they began having fellowship in their homes or at a park. At one time, the group grew to 20 people but dwindled later on as Eliza also had to work. She has since quit her job to focus on this ministry and work full-time at the Indonesian Gospel Center.
Eliza now leads fellowship meetings at this center every Sunday from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. The meeting starts with singing a few praise songs before the ladies share their thoughts on a passage from Scripture. Eliza then prays for the ladies and their needs at the conclusion of the meeting. She also treats them to a meal at an Indonesian restaurant after the meeting to alleviate some for their homesickness.
The support of local churches and presbyteries is vital in ministries such as the Indonesia Gospel Center. With the help of the local presbytery, the center was able to secure a venue and some funding, but the remaining biggest challenge is inviting people to attend the meetings. According to reports, it is a difficult for foreign spouses to leave their homes due to discriminatory restrictions, an overwhelming amount of housework, or restrictions from venturing out alone. In contrast, Indonesian women who work in Taiwan as caregivers find it easier to take time off on a regular basis to attend meetings.
To overcome this challenge, Eliza sometimes reaches out to women who can’t attend meetings by calling them or inviting a Taiwanese friend to come along with her to pay a formal visit. Whenever they are able to pay a formal visit and introduce themselves to the in-laws of these women, they try to convince them to let their daughter-in-laws come to church.
Members from Fengshan Presbyterian Church and Tainan Theological College and Seminary frequently help out at the center. Chuang is urging churches to let their members know about this center so that they may refer it to Indonesian ladies who need a helping hand.