Let there be Light

let there be light 1

I just finished reading “Let there be Light – A history of SEND International in Taiwan” by Roland Friesen. The author was the former Taiwan Area Director from 1981 to 1993, and very honest in depicting both the success and failures in the field. Since we came back from two short-term mission trips to Taiwan last year, it helped to put everything in perspective. As Friesen himself said, “unless a person knows from where he came he most likely won’t know where he should be going“.

For us, who just completed a consulting assignment to help put their ministry handbook together, it was especially interesting to see how the current mission, vision and strategies developed. For example, prior to Far Eastern Gospel Crusade (FEGC, as SEND International was called before 1981) entering Taiwan, the 1965 feasibility survey identified that:
1. The Taiwanese (Fujianese) and Hakka should be the target groups.
2. FEGC should concentrate on evangelism and church planting.
3. FEGC should not start a new association of churches.
4. FEGC should relate closely to an existing evangelical group of churches
Then, in 1980, the mission’s statement of objectives added, “Do evangelism through like-minded churches where they exist … We will seek to relate the churches we start to other like-minded evangelical churches.”

The current mission statement is as follows: The Mission of SEND International in Taiwan is to glorify God by partnering with like-minded believers to establish reproducing churches among the least reached Hakka, Hokklo, and Asian Expatriates.

The Hokklo or Hoklo is the same as Hokkien or Fujian. Asian expatriates were added later because of the high immigration of foreign brides for Taiwanese men, as well as foreign workers for factories and care-givers for seniors and children. Ministry to Asian expatriates is an effective means to the end of establishing Hakka and Hokklo churches. The definition of like-minded partners has broadened from specific named denominations and independent churches who had chosen to work with SEND, to those whose passion is to see the completion of Vision 119 (calling 119 workers to plant 60 churches along old Route 1 and Route 19 in Taiwan), and agree to SEND Taiwan’s vision, mission, and values. So while there is fine-tuning because of changing circumstances, and struggles due to limited resources, disunity and human frailty, the mission stayed the same, and form follows function, as it should.

In contrast, here in Toronto I see some churches losing sight of their mission, even though they have adequate human and financial resources. Sadly, some are caught up with internal “politics”, with different departments jockeying for power and defending their “turf”. They place a low priority on the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, and shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces, not letting those who are trying to enter come in (Mt 23:13-14). The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Co 4:4), but sometimes he blinded the minds of believers too, so they are doing the enemy’s work instead of the Lord’s work. May the people living in darkness see the great light (Mt 4:16).

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