God’s Guidance

God's guidance 1

Sometimes things are so remarkable that you just know God must be directing everything behind the scenes. When our missionary friends returned to Taiwan after a year of home service (furlough), they started looking for a place to plant a church among the Hakka people. The Hakka is an unreached people group (0.6% Christian) concentrated in several counties where there are few or no churches, so it wasn’t hard to identify the towns with the needs. However, receptivity and finding a specific, suitable site is.

They had three objectives:
1. Find a place to live, which doubles up as the home base for a church;
2. Find ministry partners, as there is no way one couple can do everything themselves;
3. Find a means to reach out to the community.

Mission policy does not allow missionaries to purchase their home on the field. However, there are few rental properties on the market as generally Hakka folks prefer home ownership rather than renting. Furthermore, they prefer word-of-mouth publicity over advertising. The few houses that are listed are usually those that are so dilapidated that the owners have to resort to their least preferred method to lease them out. For several months our friends looked at what’s available. Some have worn electrical wiring that is like “live” wire dangling from the ceiling. Another has only one bathroom in the entire building, an “out-house” on a balcony, without heating! They just couldn’t bring themselves to sign a lease.

Re volunteer workers, they have to train local believers to help with the ministry, and to pick up the baton from them. A colleague referred them to a Taiwanese pastor who has a heart for reaching the Hakka like they do. He had gathered the few Christians he could find and started a bible study/prayer group with them. One couple is in restaurant workers ministry. Several are retired teachers. Our friends linked up with this group and soon many became their core volunteers.

With respect to community outreach, teaching English is a proven method for foreign missionaries to connect with the local people. But instead of a traditional ESL (English as a Second Language) class, they started a class to train the teachers to teach English. And suddenly everything fell into place.

At the first English class, a security guard for a school showed up. He “happened” to be a former student of one of our friend’s retired teacher volunteers. Hakkas respect teachers highly. Since our friend teaches the teachers English, she is held in even higher regard. He also “happened” to own a rental house that was available. It sits right next to a tomb, which might explain why it’s vacant, as superstitious Chinese would find it “unlucky”. But to our friends, it meant only that they have a neighbor who never complains. When the owner heard that his former teacher’s teacher was looking for a house, he offered to repaint the interior and lease them the house, at one-third discount!

In one move they have a home, ministry partners, and a bridge to reach the community. The work started well and in one year they have 3 people baptized, plus 3 who came to faith in Christ when they attended the baptism ceremony. Coincidence? No, Providence! When God moves, things happen. But you have to be involved to be a part of it.

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