God calls Vietnamese in his Kingdom – even in Taiwan!
„Don’t you have something for us about God in Vietnamese too? This was the usual reaction to my colleagues, when they distributed gospel tracts among the Thai factory workers in Guan-in, Chungli and the Neili area. Nevertheless if somebody could translate them they would sometimes take them to the Thai retreat. Up to now this was always the big exception.
As missionaries we came to Taiwan to learn Mandarin, the educational language in Taiwan, because we want to found churches, educate Taiwanese about Gods plan with them and mobilize them for world mission. Church-planting is never the goal it is the way to achieve that. – If in Taiwan almost every sixth child at school is born by a foreign mother, the percentage of divorces especially among marriages with Vietnamese reaches almost 20% and the government is unable to change much, it is more than clear, that Gods people are not doing their job satisfactory, or at least not holistic enough. Without any Vietnamese missionaries, without Vietnamese bibles or other means for most of the asking local churches, there was only one way go to help foreign brides: to teach them Mandarin. Hopefully, so many hoped, the Vietnamese would soon make it and be able to understand the pastor, preacher, or elder and his Christian teaching on their own. For most of them this is a very long and frustrating way to go.
Our interdenominational team of ministers (Taiwan Expatriate Caring Committee, initated by SEND) decided to make the needs of this at 150,000 member numbering group of expatriates the top priority of our annual evangelistic efforts in 2007.and if possible to establish an ongoing ministry with the potential to serve island-wide. Our work begun on our knees, because we did not have anything to start with, except some ideas. We did not have money, no Vietnamese bibles, almost no gospel tracts, no New Testaments no translators and especially no time (!). Nevertheless we decided to give it a try. Within a few months only the tide began to change. The gathering of more information, the many calls, the typing of articles, power points, publishing and the search for potential partners, etc. paid off. With donations forwarded to TECC for this special project we could purchase more than 100 Vietnamese bibles to be given to whose in need and without means to purchase one. We knew there are more such churches than many want to be aware of.
And yet quite a few of those small churches have a caring heart and are often those who have Vietnamese in their neighborhood. With some additional finances from SEND, 15,000 gospel booklets in Vietnamese with five titles like “The Meaning of Life”, “Does men need God”, “A Newly Created Person”, etc. could be printed. In order to better assist the churches we decided to develop a bilingual Gospel of Mark, containing both languages, Mandarin and Vietnamese, so the (unbelieving) Taiwanese husband and churches members could also read the Good News and use it as a complementary tool to teach Mandarin. In fact after some time of writing back and forth, we finally got the rights to print a new Vietnamese version of the Gospel of Mark and from friends we got enough money to start with the realization of the project. As I just heard before Christmas 20,000 will be ready for distribution (Not all money for the printing expenses is in yet).
When God wants to do something he is moving his people all over the world. This year alone we have had more Vietnamese short termers coming to Taiwan than in any year before. They were from U.S. and Germany. In one case a Christian Vietnamese family from U.S. when they heard about the need to share the gospel to Vietnamese in Taiwan decided to enroll as Mandarin students for Taiwan in order to have the chance to bring the gospel to their people. Barnabas and Thammy with their two children arrived in October with the Free Methodist Mission. They have never gone to a Bible College before. Barnabas is enrolled in a correspondence course with Moody Institute now. He is willing to bring the Good News to the Vietnamese in Taiwan no matter what it takes.
Thanks to a special effort of the Vietnam Mission from Germany we can help with more than 5000 New Testaments, thousands of gospel tracts and with CD’s (Jesus Film) and even spiritual songs in Vietnamese incl. a nice CD. Time has come where we can go ahead and help the groups of Vietnamese with more potential to learning something about God. For most of the Chinese churches this also expands their possibilities and goes beyond their counseling and teaching of Mandarin ministry. In the meantime every week Vietnamese come to faith, In the beginning of December we had about 180 people who had spoken the prayer of invitation to Jesus and wanted to follow him. Now we just wait for a Vietnamese pastor to assist us. God has worked behind the screens and prepared someone to come. As a result of Gods preparatory work Pastor Tu, a Vietnamese CMA pastor-missionary of Canada when he arrives in February 08, might soon able to baptize the first Vietnamese for the first Vietnamese congregation of Taiwan!
In the meantime it belongs to my newer privileges to fill empty an VW bus, suitcases (for Barnabas) and postal cases with Vietnamese gospel material to be brought or sent to needy places. There is a pastor lady from the south, who told me she has around 2000 Vietnamese around their 1919 center down in Pingdong, She-dong harbor. She can not speak a word Vietnamese, but wants to help them. She has no money to order enough. Trusting God, that he will somehow raise people to provide also for the future I send her 38 kg material. Barnabas will be going to visit her and see those Vietnamese very soon. God knew due to my limitation not to able to speak Vietnamese I would never be able to lead someone of them to Christ, but he heard our prayers for help, and sent Barnabas and his family from U.S. (The fact that I have met him had to do with my enrollment in some Taiwanese studies earlier this year).
In the meantime Barnabas is developing a visitation and Vietnamese bible-study ministry in the cities Taipei (two places), Keelung, and Kaoshiung. - How many such requests for support we can meet is a real question. But I am reminded: In the beginning of the year we had nothing. And our heavenly father knows what we need! – What we still need more are Vietnamese missionaries. They need to be able to talk English and learn Mandarin if they can’t speak it yet, thus it is much easier to also serve the local churches in their need. Our goal is not to establish as many churches as possible, but to equip Vietnamese for discipleship and a ministry of witnessing. They may go back into their home-country with the gospel in their hearts and a zeal to share it (We have no clue how long they are still in Taiwan as guest workers)– Those 75,000+ who got married to a Taiwanese will have to become part of a Vietnamese ministry of the local churches. In this process the local churches can learn a lot about mission and growth into its international mission responsibility.