Article by David Black, serving in Kaohsiung, Taiwan as Regional Director for HIM Asian Ministries
Christina and I are exploring possibilities to connect more with personal witnessing to the people here in Taiwan. We are very busy directing the work, studying on a graduate level the ins and outs of mission work, and teaching on line. Nevertheless, we want to engage in personal evangelism as well. It is very challenging since we have only been in country for two months. We have spent the majority of time with our church leadership and membership. Even though we are learning Mandarin, we currently do not know very much of the language which causes communication limitations.
We did discover a unique way to connect with non-Christians whom we meet on a weekly basis. When we are eating dinner out on the weekend, going shopping, or buying groceries, we have to use English to communicate. Everywhere we go there are always one or two people who are bold enough to speak in English. We smile and encourage them. We have met at least fifteen people who want to enhance their English skills. We are in the early stages of developing a plan to use this desire as a means of forming a closer relationship with some of these people. We plan to begin an English discussion/conversation group in our home when the building renovations are completed. Christina is thinking maybe we will call it “The English Circle.” The people seem to thirst for a chance to practice their language skills.
Each session will begin with a short inspirational time. We will offer western style snacks and try to create a welcoming, relaxing environment where they can feel safe using their limited English and participate in a little excursion into the West, as they deeply desire. One lady at a local hardware store is so interested in the coming sessions; she asked us to begin by explaining the western holiday Christmas and inquired as to whether she could include her children! More and more people are celebrating this “American” holiday here in Taiwan, and everyone wants to hear the Christmas story. Christina is one of the best story-tellers I know, so it sounds like a great match up to me!
I have learned that in order to develop a spiritual relationship cross culturally you have to begin by seeking to meet real needs of the people in the culture. Here in Taiwan, as in most of Asia, English is something most everyone strongly desires. If they know a little English they want to know more, so this gives us an opportunity to connect with a lot of people, even with the limitation of the language barrier.
We are also employing a couple other strategies to find ways to minster to people.
Christina and I have started praying for our city as we walk through the streets. Phillip and Kandace Connor stated, “When the people of a city are unable to pray for themselves, it is our responsibility as worshippers of the Most High God to stand in the gap and intercede for them” (Connor 2008, 12). We believe that prayer changes things and that God will direct us to the right people to whom we can minister through prayer.
We also have a book Is God Really my Father? that we use to distribute as a tract. This book is in both English and Chinese. We have used it successfully in the past and it has brought many interesting responses. Connors (2008) suggests that if you lack the necessary language skills to conduct public proclamation, do not be dismayed. There are other methods of having a public form of proclamation, one being Bible or literature distribution. Since we presently have a language barrier we hope to overcome part of this problem through literature distribution in combination with the English classes.
Our ultimate goal is to bring people to a saving relationship with Christ. We immediately plan to do this through prayer, literature distribution, and “The English Circle.” Once we have established relationships, we can share the gospel directly and clearly. If friends respond positively, we will continue to disciple them and eventually connect them with a local body of believers.
Source Used: Conner, Philip and Kandace. 2008. Who Is My Neighbor. Princeton, NJ: Philip and Kandace Conner