Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Advent in Taiwan and How to Pray for Us

This last months and weeks were full with traveling, looking for a more suitable appartment/small house, packing, moving, unpacking, learning and finding back to a lifestyle as the LORDs servant in a new environment in a new, yet loud neighborhood, especially at some nights. We are thankful for the LORD paving us the way to a new period of ministry (Actually at the moment we are still in a kind of “home-service mode”, because Alain takes his theological studies in Taiwan instead of Germany). – Our (partner) mission “SEND International” in these month continued to work on the fine-tunning of the plan to engage MORE foreign missionaries in Taiwan.

The project is called "VISION 119" “, a name strange enough that someone unfamiliar with it should quickly get acquainted with it, because this term will become part of our vocabulary for the coming years. – Within all of that we want to prepare for the next time: ADVENT. We have no idea how you feel: Have you ever had the impression the days before Christmas in the meantime have been perverted to a time merely assuring the increased money flow? And this with all the craziness (shopping, parties, cooking, family visits, etc.,) usually before and at Christmas day you just didn’t get the “experience” you had hoped for? – For us in Taiwan, which is still a strong non Christian country with 4,2% Christians, the time BEFORE Christmas with many festive activities on the agenda in the same way reminds to us to keep focused on how to “access” the special news of the birth of Jesus - with all it entails - in a God pleasing way. – The days BEFORE Christmas in the Latin (and Greek Rite) Church of which the Reformation grew out are dedicated to a time of preparation, called Advent.

The time of advent for most people helps to raise expectations beyond the Christmas gifts. This also is its spiritual value. – It is a time to rethink the own lifestyle, the value of family Christian tradition and a time where we become more receptive to the idea to widen the lens and focus on the real…the authentic…the things that really matter and the true gift of the season and life. The fact that Taiwan’s workers in a recent survey with a percentage of more than 64% rejected the idea to have even one single child in their marriage shows how low the value of life even new human life in Taiwan currently is. Children are increasingly seen as a burden and a challenge to miss enjoyable parts of life. The fact that all of them would see a need for the country to have more children (Taiwan has reached the globally lowest fertility rate with 1,04%, tendency worsening) shows that most of them think giving birth and raising children is something for others. To talk to these hardworking disillusioned people about a rich and meaningful life as a very real part of God - won through the trusting of God’s own son is not easy. (However, the long time of preparation for Christmas God spent in history reminds us, only those who really hear of it and find access to the center of its message can really enjoy it, for the others it tends to become an annual burden).

The four Buddhist TV channels asking people to live an ascetic life and not investing in family life probably encourage a proportion of them to at least not change their mind. After all, to give one’s life for others can best be understood in looking at Christmas, where the Father gave us his son. - Hope, peace, joy and love are not just candles to be lit around an advent wreath – they are facets of a living Christ to be ignited in our lives and our communities. If we carefully invest ourselves and engage in “life-inspiring and life-giving” activities in our families and communities. This years Christmas can really become that time of refueling and refresh us for the challenges of the new year ahead.

The Shepai Presbyterian Friendship Church at this year's December on purpose provides a full scale of evangelistic programs, including baptisms, special youth events and prayer meetings. Most cell groups will engage in some sort of Christmas activity inviting their friends, including our own family  homegroup.  This also is the reason why we will not engage in any activities with the German community this year, except at the TES organized Christmas market, at November 27th.

Please pray for:

Spiritual freshness, good new contacts in the neighborhood, the Christmas-celebration for Indonesians (Dec, 5ht), where we expect 700 Indonesians coming, the writing of the last papers for the M.Div Course, the finishing of the thesis by January 2011, Ritas music ministry with the church kidschoir and other music related engagements, our daily bread. Also we would like to have our church involved in a new outreach ministry in 2011. The topic of the M.Div thesis is: 大使命注意的教會生活 ~ 在台灣用使徒的道建立宣教的教會 "The Great Commission Driven Church Life - Applied Apostolic Teachings in Taiwan's Historic Mission Context.  Its content reveals the latest results of self made historical research regarding the "History of Mission on Taiwan" adn thus reaching back in pre-Dutch times.

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