East Asia 2017: Chiayi Travels
Thank you to all of those who have been following up with our East Asia travels! :) It has been encouraging for us to hear back from some of you about how you have kept us in your prayers, it really does make all of the difference! :) Since our last blog, we have left Kaohsiung and went to Chiayi!
In Chiayi, we were able to visit Mark and Ruth Harbour, who are leaders of Taiwan Harvest 119. The Harbours have been serving as missionaries in Taiwan for over 34 years (!!), and have a huge desire to see the entire west coast of Taiwan come to Christ.
On the west coast of Taiwan, there are few (if any) churches or Christian bible studies that exist in these more rural, mainly Taiwanese/Hokkien speaking areas. Most Christian churches are primarily Mandarin speaking, thus unintentionally focusing on the more educated/middle class Taiwan people and somewhat alienating those who speak Taiwanese dialects. In the more rural areas of Taiwan, churches can often feel intimidating to step into and there is a lot of spiritual bondage that exists due to years and years of traditions, superstitions, and ancestor worship.
Because of this, the Harbours, along with Taiwan Harvest 119, have a vision to see 60 "lighthouses" exists throughout the Taiwan west coast: small missionary teams that can be lights to their communities and share the Gospel to those who don't know God yet. They know that this is not work that can be done on their own, so they have been working with other local Taiwan pastors in order to raise up more missionaries/church leaders who can create opportunities for Christian community/bible study along the west coast.
Our time in Chiayi went by quickly, as we travelled with the Harbours to visit churches in various surrounding areas such as Dalin, Yongjing, and Taichung. Each church was in a different stage of growth, but we were able to see how the Harbours met with them, prayed for them, and offered support to these churches as they continued to grow and reach out to their surrounding community.
We were able to join in on family cell groups that they lead as well: 3 different homes that they visit each week and share the Word through worship music and Bible stories. One of the groups they lead is in all Taiwanese, while the other two are family centric (both the parents and kids participate!) and led in Mandarin. It was uplifting to witness the excitement people had in response to the Harbour's enthusiasm when reading the bible passages, as well as see them earnestly ask questions to better understand the text/Gospel truth.
We also visited Mt. Alishan and attend an evangelistic worship and prayer session led by Pastor Hsieh, one of their Taiwan Harvest 119 coworkers. Though our time was cut short a little, due to public permit regulation, we were still able to worship and pray for Taiwan on the top of this mountain. It was encouraging to see the boldness and openness that Pastor Hsieh and the others had, as they joyfully worshipped God on the mountaintop.
As we visited with the Harbours, observed numerous meetings they had, and met some of the community that they have been ministering to, one thing that stood out to us was their incredible generosity of time and their love for their community. Despite having many responsibilities and things to do, the Harbours were always willing to meet with anyone who had a need, visit a church to encourage them, and lead multiple home small groups for the sake of bringing more people to Christ. Though some of the people we met were Christians and some were not yet Christians, it was so evident how much they loved and appreciated the Harbours. Many shared how they were moved/touched by how the Harbours were willing to immerse themselves in a new culture and learn new language(s) in order to better get to know them, connect with them, and show Christlike love to them.
Overall, it was a great experience getting to spend time with the Harbours. We definitely felt encouraged and excited to see how God has been working through them to reach their Chiayi community. As they continue to minister to their community and build up Taiwan Harvest 119, we pray that God will continue to use them mightily in the lives of the people they encounter! If you would like to also pray for the Harbours, we've included a few prayer requests you can pray for during your week below.
THANK YOU for continuing to support and read through our East Asia journey! Please continue to keep us in your prayers, as our time in East Asia has not come to a close just yet. We'll be sharing about our time in Taichung next!
1. Please pray for continued safety and energy for the TCP East Asia team, as the continuous traveling/moving around can take a toll on energy levels. Pray that our team would rely on God for strength, wisdom, and discernment as we continue to film the work that God is doing through these missionaries' ministries.
2. Pray for the partnerships being established between project churches ("lighthouses") and resource churches through Taiwan Harvest 119! Praise God for allowing Taiwan Harvest 119 to have the ability to connect with church communities in various parts of Taiwan and offer encouragement/support to new emerging churches. Please pray that these lighthouse communities would not lose heart as they minister in places where Christianity is almost nonexistent, and Taiwan Harvest 119 will be able to find more local Taiwan churches to pair with/support these sprouting church communities.
3. Praise God for the relationships that are building through family cell groups! Please pray that the small group members (Frank's family, Stanley's family, and the Guobei small group participants) will continue to come to study the Word with excitement and that they would continue to know that God is the one true god above all else.
4. Pray that the people of Taiwan will come to know the Gospel and desire to follow after God. Pray that the spiritual darkness and bondage that exists will be lifted off. It isn't always difficult for the Taiwanese to accept the existence of God, but rather it's often harder for them to set aside other deities and worship God only.
If you would like to keep up with where Cam and Oscar are now, visit the Shanghai STM blog page below!