This week, as I was travelling on Taipei’s recent but excellent Metro system, I suddenly heard my name in Chinese being called by another passenger. I looked round and saw a young lady was calling out my name. As we chatted, I discovered that she was a graduate of the Barnabas School Of Missions, a school that I started here in Taipei about 10 years ago, to train local Chinese speaking believers in cross-cultural mission.
But what really encouraged me was her ongoing comment “I am going for six months to a middle Eastern country to work as a missionary next year.” That kind of unexpected encouragement makes the work we do in the schools of mission in Taiwan and China all worthwhile.
I should have retired by now...
We work to encourage Christian believers here to learn how to do cross-cultural work, and then to go out into the field. I should have retired by now (!), but I have a strong conviction that we are about to see a great wave of missionaries from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries go out from their Chinese churches. So training and encouraging those who go and those who send, keeps Christine and myself busy in the Far East.
As far as Taiwan is concerned, there is a rather unique problem. The church to which I am connected here has planted over 400 churches worldwide. That’s exciting, of course. But the problem is that almost all of these churches speak Chinese, even though they might be in Paris or London or Delhi or wherever! That is pretty logical when you think of it, because wherever you go you’ll bump into Chinese, and indeed probably many of them. So it’s a great idea to serve them.
The challenge of language.
But my challenge is that it doesn’t help the local population of most countries to have a Chinese speaking church in their capital or elsewhere, because locals would then have to learn Chinese before they can hear about Jesus! And that, simply put, is not going to happen.
So the challenge for Chinese believers, here in Taiwan and elsewhere, is to learn other languages and understand other cultures, to then reach their new neighbours!
That mission movement has started. It’s exciting. But it’s only a beginning, it’s a trickle on the beach, not a tsunami wave. But I believe that will come. That’s why FieldPartner is currently building a Chinese school of missions online, using first language Chinese speakers with experience of cross-cultural mission.
We are putting the physical schools that we have run successfully in Taiwan and China on to the internet. That way any Chinese speaking person anywhere can be trained and prepared for mission. Then one day it won’t be just one voice on the Metro, it’ll be a chorus of folk saying they’ve been trained and they are about to go!