A copy of Mark’s Newsletter.
The Taiwan Times – May Issue
Hello my friends! I hope and pray all is well with all of you. I know everyone is very busy, but I do appreciate you taking the time to read about God’s work being done here in Taiwan. To open this month’s newsletter I have a Bible verse for us to think about.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As we are often busy in life with deadlines to meet or meetings to be had, we remember that God does not want us to be anxious about anything. He wants us to pray to Him and be thankful in everything. We can trust in Him and know that He gives us true peace that can only be found in Christ Jesus.
Nearing the End of the School Year
As I write this I cannot help but realize that it is already May (almost June) and this means that we are coming to a close of another school year. In fact, I only have five short weeks left before the Concordia takes summer break and I return home for a short visit. Looking back on the school year I see times of joy, trial, and growth. I would like to use this newsletter to share in depth a little more about my ministry to the students I teach, which is what I view as my most important ministry here in Taiwan.
My teaching assignment here in Taiwan is to teach Junior 1 and Senior 1 students. Junior 1 is the equivalent of 7th grade in the U.S. and Senior 1 is the equivalent of 10th grade. I see six classes of 7th graders one time a week for Bible class, and I see five classes of 10th graders twice a week (one time for writing class and one time for Bible class).
My students are an absolute joy teach, and both grade levels have very different teaching dynamics. In the 7th grade classes we started the year with a basic introduction to Jesus and God’s plan of love. After that we have been reading many Bible stories from the Old Testament, including David, Daniel, Moses, Abraham, and Joseph.
These lessons usually consist of some new vocabulary words, reading the Bible story written for students learning a second language, and then a game or activity to go along with the lesson. These students are usually quite enthusiastic and full of energy. A challenge of teaching this level has been the wide ranging levels of English. Some of my students can communicate really well and have a conversation, and others can barely read basic sentences from the Bible story. This can be frustrating and has brought challenges in engaging all of the students in the class. But all in all, teaching the 7th graders has brought some good relationships that will continue to grow into next year. It has also given me the opportunity of sharing Jesus with some of these students for the first time in their lives.
The joys and challenges of teaching 10th graders are much different from the 7th graders. I have a closer relationship with my 10th grade students because I see them twice a week. One of these classes is for writing class and one of these is for Bible class. Because of their higher English ability and more mature minds we are able to talk about deeper issues regarding faith, life, and God. This has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, these issues are very interesting to look at and learn about, and I am able to get deeper, more complex responses. At the same time many students in my classes do not believe in God and it can be frustrating having them in a mandatory Bible class in which they disagree with what is being taught or are apathetic toward the message of Christ.
While Bible class brings many highs and lows to my mission work being done here in Taiwan, today I would like to focus on the highs. It is such a great joy to know students who did not know Jesus before coming to Concordia, but now have faith in Christ. With the rest of this newsletter I would like to share something written by Bob, my tenth grade student.
He had to write an essay, about an important decision in his life. In his essay talked about his important decision to stay studying in Concordia. When he was a seventh grader, he did not like school at Concordia. He wrote, “I couldn’t understand what the English teachers said, I didn’t know how to write English homework, I didn’t want to hear the American teachers always (say) that God is love.” He was not sure he wanted to continue studying at the school.
While Bob felt this way in 7th grade, things changed for him in 8th grade. God had a plan. He described how he began to understand what the English teacher was saying, and it made him feel good. He also began to understand the Bible teacher, and began to feel that there was a God who loved him. Bob then began going to church and the weekly chapel at school. He wrote, “I felt that God is a living God, He knew what I need (ed).”
Now Bob is in one of my 10th grade classes. He knows about God and the love that He has for us in Jesus. Bob trusts that God has a plan for him. Praise God for Bob’s faith, and the opportunity to share God’s love here at Concordia Middle School.
It’s Prayer Time!
Here are the prayer requests. As always we lift these up according to the will of God, praying for Him to be glorified through everything.
1. Praise God for Bob and the faith that Bob has. Pray that God would bless him as he studies at Concordia and that God would help him to grow in faith.
2. Praise God for health. I know in an earlier newsletter I asked for prayers concerning health, and I have been really healthy this past semester, unlike the previous one. Thank God for the power of prayer.
3. Pray that God would grant me wisdom and discernment in all things, as I serve Him out here in Taiwan.
4. Pray for my continued learning of Chinese. I absolutely love learning the language. Thank God that I have been able to study and acquire parts of the language, but pray that I would be able to study more and improve even more.
5. Pray for all of my students that I teach. Pray that my actions and words would point towards the love of Jesus and that they would come to trust him. Pray especially for the following students. All of them are at different places concerning what he or she may or may not believe about Jesus but please pray for them that God would help give them faith. Henry, Sunnie, Michelle, Bryant, David, Alice, Nneia, and Lana.
6. Pray that God would continue to bring people to the mission field. Pray especially for Taiwan. We currently have two positions to teach at the Elementary level here at CMS.
Thank you all for your continued love, support, and prayers.