Taiwan Times – February 2009 Issue

Mark’s February newsletter.

The Taiwan Times

By Mark Wolfram
Reporting on God’s mission in Taiwan
February 2009
Christian Support

Here at Concordia Middle School, I teach Bible class for 7th and 8th graders, and like any classroom it has both rewarding and challenging aspects. On one hand, it is a joy to have the opportunity to share the Gospel with the students. Many of these students are not Christians so the primary part of my ministry is to help them to hear and understand the Bible. As an American teacher, I use English. This opportunity is important, but can also be frustrating when the students are skeptical or not open to the message, or are unable to understand because of their low English ability.

The in-class environment can also be intimidating for students to show interest or ask questions. There are several reasons for this. First, of all they are in high school, so peer pressure and perception are ever-present. This can influence a students’ willingness to participate and show interest at the risk of being un-cool or standing out in the class.
Second, because many students are non-Christians it can be difficult to be open about sharing beliefs or ideas. They are probably insecure about sharing their beliefs, and as much as I reassure them as their teacher, peer influence is extremely powerful. Third, the students are communicating in a second or third language, making some of them afraid to use English.
This is the context for many Bible classes here in CMS. As a teacher I often get caught up in reaching out to the students who do not yet believe, that I forgot about the pressure and challenges that those with faith have as students in Bible class. In an 8th grade class this month, I was reminded that it is important to continue to support and uplift the Christian students in my classes.

I recently had a lesson with my 8th graders (Junior 2), about Jesus calling the first disciples. In the lesson we read about how Simon, Andrew, James, and John left everything to follow Jesus. The main point was that it can be difficult to follow Jesus at times. Christians are sometimes laughed at or put-down because of their beliefs, but Jesus is always with us and loves us. He is the most important thing.

At the beginning of the lesson, there was an activity where the students wrote down 10 things that are important to them. After they wrote these things, I then told the class that I would be taking some of them away and that those items would be gone forever. So I first told them to cross 3 things off of their list…and then two more…and then two more…and then one…and then one…until they only had one thing left on their list. What was the most important thing to them?
The kids moaned and agonized over their choices, as they eliminated genuinely important items from their list. In the end, some of the final answers included a parent, friends, love, and freedom. I teach two classes of 8th graders, about 40 kids in total. In my two classes there was only one student who had Jesus as his answer.

When I thought about this I had two immediate thoughts. First, there are still many students who need to continue to hear about God’s love in Jesus. But second, that student had a lot of faith and courage to write Jesus’ name as the most important thing in his life. Amongst the pressure of being a high school student and being judged by his peers, he wrote the one name that brings salvation.

I was really touched by his courage, and made a point to talk to him as he was leaving class. I told him that I was really happy to see he wrote Jesus as his most important thing. He smiled and acknowledged my comment, but quickly made his way out the door. I am sure he did not want to make a big scene out of it.

I was reminded of the importance of supporting and uplifting the fellow Christians here in Taiwan. It can be hard to go against the grain and stand up for Jesus, and they need encouragement from those of us who are also part of the family of God. I hope my 8th grader felt encouraged about his answer after class.

News for next year!

After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to return to Taiwan for another year of service. I am still passionate about the ministry to the students here at CMS and to the people who live in Chia Yi and the surrounding area. I would like to thank you for your support and prayers.

As a result, I will have to continue fundraising, and I will write more about that in a future newsletter. Please hold off on sending funds to support me. I want to make sure I have the proper information and be able to give you a clear idea of how the process will go this time around. I hope to be able to give you more information in my next newsletter in March.

It’s Prayer Time!

1. Praise God for leading me in a decision about next year. Please ask that He would continue to guide and bless my relationships with students, co-workers and all other people I meet here in Taiwan.
2. Pray for Pastor Alex as he prepares to come and be our pastor in one month. Also pray for Doug Larson, and his sons Jacob and Caleb, as they prepare to come in April on a short term mission trip to do music ministry here in Chia-Yi.

God’s blessings to you all!