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3145 Edition
June 4-10, 2012
Editorial

Editorial: Everyone is a medium for sharing the Gospel

Translated by Lydia Ma

We often rely on the media when it comes to understanding the world and such knowledge helps us become responsible citizens and stewards of creation. Fierce competition among television networks in Taiwan in recent years has not only resulted in this country having the highest number of satellite news gathering trucks per land area, but also made national news increasingly unprofessional and entertainment-oriented. There have also been more and more instances of journalistic ethics left in the dust in favor of whatever news can boost viewership. In fact, it is not unusual to see reporters use sensational clips taken from Youtube as a source of news or jump at the first tell-all story they can find.

Such a trend in Taiwan has been to the great detriment of the Taiwanese public because we lose many opportunities to learn about what is going on around the world and are worldview becomes increasingly narrow. This trend can sometimes even harm our economy and our health. For instance, the overly-reported incident of Japanese-Taiwanese entertainer Kawashima Makiyo, who beat up an elderly taxi driver a few months ago, got everybody in Taiwan talking about social morals. But the incident was also reported and replayed so many times that many important national and international issues, such as the safety concerns regarding all nuclear power plants in Taiwan, the import of U.S. beef, and the Euro crisis, were put in the backburner because they were not “entertaining” enough.

From newspapers to news networks, much of the news that we see has been sifted and filtered so that it is sometimes difficult for us to judge what is important. For this reason, we need to get news from various sources if we want to seek out the truth of what really happened. It is only then that we can form our informed opinions on a matter and respond and take action. This process also transforms us into a medium for sharing information and galvanizing various sectors in society.

As Christians, it’s important to think and discuss what constitutes quality media communications. It is important for us to not only have an accurate understanding of current events, but also have an accurate understanding of Christianity. We cannot be complacent with merely listening to a 40-minute long sermon every Sunday. Instead, we must search the Scriptures and seek to understand God’s work in this generation. We must be aware that there are indeed various religions and faith traditions, seek to understand and differentiate them, and then, seek God’s guidance. It is only then that we can boldly step out and proclaim the Gospel and become a channel of the Good News.

In other words, every Christian is a medium of evangelism and it is our responsibility to make known God’s justice and grace. Ralph J. Begleiter, a former CNN world affairs correspondent who has worked in 100 countries and all 7 continents for 2 decades, once said that the media should be reporting news that readers “ought to” know, instead of news that readers “want to” know. So, as we become a medium proclaiming the Gospel and all sorts of mission strategies, let us be mindful of what things constitute as core and necessary content instead of seeking to please the tastes and whims of our audiences. As we strive to promote mission movements, let us also focus on the needs of remote villages and marginalized communities that need our support.

 

 
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3144 Edition
May 5-28, 2012
Headline News

Catholic church members and clergy march to protect their land

Reported by Lin Yi-ying

Translated by Lydia Ma

For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church in Taiwan, which spans more than 150 years, Catholic Church members and clergy are taking to the streets to protect their church buildings and their benefits. This historical moment was provoked by a land requisition and consolidation by Taichung City as part of its Urban Renewal Plan. The city government had rezoned and requisitioned half of the land belonging to the Catholic Church in Taichung's Nantun District.

On the afternoon of May 26, 2012, more than 3,000 people, mostly Catholic priests, nuns, members, and their supporters, took part in a prayer march to protect this church building and property. The march was led by Taichung Diocese Vice Bishop Hsu Shih-chao, priest of Catholic Church in Nantun District Father Khohi Mbwi, along with many foreign and Taiwanese priests and nuns from across Taiwan. It

began at Summer Green Park and wound up at the front steps of Taichung City Hall where a petition was formally submitted .

Besides demanding that the city government mediate this matter involving a conflict of interests between church officials, developers, and the city government, protestors also prayed for the well-being of government officials, church officials, etc. They underscored some of the injustices and inconsistences of the new legislation, inlcuidng

“The reason we are taking to the streets is not because we are bullies. We are praying and asking for fairness and justice!” said Hsu, adding that this is the first time the Catholic Church has taken to the streets for the sake of its rights and interests. He added that because other churches have encountered similar problems, a meeting was convened in May between leaders of every diocese and it was decided at the meeting that a joint appeal would be made to the government with regards to respecting religious properties.

As for the Catholic Church in Taichung’s Nantun District, the ultimate goal for clergy and church members is to completely preserve the church building. Vice Bishop Hsu Shih-chao added that the reason this protest was scheduled one day before Pentecost is because this holiday marks the birthday of the Christian church and is an appropriate day for church members to come out and make their voices heard.

As for the outpouring of support shown by Protestants and Catholics from all across Taiwan, Father Khohi Mbwi said he was very grateful for everyone’s support. But he also reminded Christians that “Today, this is happening to Nantun Catholic Church. It may happen to other churches tomorrow. So, we must stick together for the sake of future generations!”

 

 
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3144 Edition
May 28-June 3, 2012
Church Ministry News

Music therapy ministry comforts inmates’ souls, proclaims the Gospel, gives new life

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Lydia Ma

For inmates living inside penitentiaries, break time is a precious and rare time when they can go outdoors for a bit of sunshine. For this reason, it is unusual to hear about inmates preferring to stay indoors during break time. But more than 200 inmates chose to stay inside on May 23, 2012 to hear Chen Yung-chang and take part in his music therapy session sponsored by Taiwan Community Outreach Association held in the auditorium of Taichung Prison.

This event began with a prayer led by Kuokuang Presbyterian Church pastor Rev. Chi Wen-Tsung followed by music presentations from various inmates who had formed small ensembles. After their presentation, staff from Taiwan Community Outreach Association led inmates into reviewing some worship songs they had taught them before and refrains such as “Praise the Lord, Alleluia” soon filled the room. After this, inmates learned a new song before they settled down to hear a short message from Chi. The meeting would end with an altar call and some people making a decision to accept Christ.

Chen Yung-chang is a member of Chungming Presbyterian Church in Taichung. After his retirement he felt that God was calling him to serve people, so, he applied and was accepted into Tunghai University’s Graduate Institute of Religious Studies. Upon receiving some encouragement from his church’s pastor, he began to volunteer at Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) and later became a counselor and teacher of life education courses at PFM.

Chen said he was inspired by an article he read in a newspaper concerning the effectiveness of instrumental music lessons in some penitentiaries a few years ago. He first sought the help of churches because he thought they had gifted members and a lot of resources. However, upon asking around, he discovered that this wasn’t the case at all and it was very difficult to get people on board to start a music therapy ministry.

He was just about to give up when God performed a miracle and he was introduced to 2 people from his church who had previously obtained doctorates overseas in the field of music. This marked the beginning of his music therapy lessons, which have been running for 2 years. There are currently 20-30 staff members working in this ministry with him and they come from various churches and Christian organizations. They now go to various penitentiaries around Taiwan to serve inmates through music therapy.

According to Chen, the greatest benefit of music therapy for inmates is that it provides an outlet for their emotions. It also helps inmates feel that there are people in the world who care about them. He said that many officials in charge of these penitentiaries have told him that they’ve noticed remarkable improvement in the emotional stability of inmates after attending these music therapy sessions.

When news spread about the benefits of music therapy, a few penitentiaries began to call Chen and invite him to conduct classes there, including Taichung Penitentiary for Women. “Inmates are not necessarily evil people,” Chen said. “A lot of them come from broken homes and need someone to reach out to them and help them realize that someone cares about them. When they feel welcomed, their behavior will change a lot.”

Because of some challenges in time coordination, Chen only conducts one music therapy session per month. However, whenever inmates don’t see him for a while, they often write to inquire about him and ask when he will be visiting them again.

Chen reaches out to inmates not only during his classes, but also throughout his visits. He will greet them one by one, chat with them briefly, inquire about their health, and ask about their release date. His friendliness and concern have helped many inmates sense the love of Christ. His service and humility have endeared him to staff at the various penitentiaries he serves so that they are willing to help him make necessary arrangements in order to conduct classes there.

In the past few years, Chen has also brought many inmates to local churches after they were released from jail. However, he found to his chagrin that many churches do not readily welcome or accept former inmates. As a member of the PCT, he hopes that the PCT General Assembly can be more active in promoting prison ministries.

 


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