More often than not, when discussing missions in Asia, the countries that are mentioned are China and Japan. As we know, there are more than these two countries that make up the geographical area known as Asia, one of which is Taiwan. The Presbyterian Church and Taiwan have a long-standing history. In fact, the Presbyterian Church is the largest Christian denomination in Taiwan. It started in the 19th century when the Presbyterian Church of Canada sent the first missionary to Northern Taiwan. George Leslie Mackay landed in one of the northern towns of Taipei on December 31, 1871, stepped off the boat, fell on his knees, Bible in hand, and prayed for Taiwan. He learned the local language and combined his dental/medical practice with his Christian message to deliver on his calling to physically and spiritually helping the people of Taiwan. Through Mackay’s dedication to bring the message to the people of Taiwan he established more than 60 local churches, a Christian university, the first girls’ school, and three hospitals in less than 30 years. After his death, churches continued to send missionaries to Taiwan and in the 1960’s the church experienced its most rapid growth. However, since the 1970’s the numbers of missionaries sent to Taiwan has declined drastically, and currently the percentage of Christians in Taiwan is less than 3%.
I believe that Taiwan is not only still in great need of the gospel but also very strategic in sharing the gospel with the people of China. Taiwan is an open country, which means that anyone can share the gospel without fear of persecution. In increasing the percentage of Christians in Taiwan, these Taiwanese are free to travel to China and share the gospel with the Chinese. They would have an easier time than missionaries from other countries because they already know the language, culture, and customs.
In January 2018, The Global Outreach Commission will be sending a team to Taiwan to support our GO partners, Moses and Eunice. The last time Tenth sent out a team to support our GO partners was in May of 2015, led by Bruce McDowell. However, this team is especially unique because the leaders of the team are not officers or pastors of Tenth but simply members of Tenth, which to the best of my knowledge, has not been done before. Jonas and Pattie Stava will be leading this team. Jonas is currently a student at Westminster Seminary and I, Pattie, work as an administrative assistant at Tenth. We both served in Taiwan as missionaries before Jonas pursued further education, which led us first to Oxford University and then Westminster. Taiwan is a special place for me. Taiwan was not only where I served for three years but also where my parents are from. My own mom’s family came to know Christ through a Presbyterian missionary back in the 1960’s, whom I met, shockingly, while at seminary in the U.S. in 2009. After three years serving in Taiwan, Jonas and I got married and left with the hope and desire to return, better equipped and renewed to reach the Taiwanese.
That day has come. Jonas and I are in the process of organizing, planning, and putting together a team to go to Taiwan to support our GO partners Moses and Eunice. Our goal while in Taiwan is to share the gospel with the people surrounding the churches that Moses and Eunice serve. We will do this a variety of ways. We will run a VBS during the day, host ESL bible studies in the evenings with graduate students, visit hospitals and orphanages and put on skits for the children there. When time allows the team will learn about the religions, culture, customs, and life of the Taiwanese.
Please pray for us as we prepare during the upcoming months. May we be sensitive to his voice and call.
Before December, we will be hosting two different events to engage the congregation and community. We hope you use these events to learn more about the team and how you can help. Pray that the community would come to these events and hear about what God is doing at Tenth and globally but also, more importantly, who the God of the Bible is. Short-term trips are not about a destination and ministry at that destination but about all the people before, during, and after the trip. It is a serious, joyful, and necessary endeavor of our Christian faith to engage locally, globally, and purposefully for the sake of sharing Christ. Contact Pattie at firstname.lastname@example.org.