The Taiwan Times – March 2010

The Taiwan Times

By Mark Wolfram

Reporting on God’s Mission in Taiwan

Next Year

Greetings to all of you from Taiwan.  First, the big news is that I have decided to return to Taiwan for another year of service.  God continues to bless my time here, and I look forward to next year and some changes that it might bring.  This means that I will again start to work on fundraising for next year.  I thank you all for your support through prayers, encouragement, and finances.  I know God has blessed me with an incredible support group back in the U.S. and God has used you to help continue the mission that is happening here in Taiwan.  If you do feel like you want to contribute to God’s mission here in Taiwan, I will include information at the end of this newsletter.

India Mission Trip

In this month’s newsletter, I would like to write about a short term mission trip I was involved with back in February.  Over Chinese New Year, I had the privilege of traveling to India for 2 weeks.  The first 9 days were devoted to mission work in the south, and the final 5 days I was able to go up north to New Delhi for some site-seeing.  I traveled in a group of 10 people.  Matthew, Kevin, Anna, Petrea, Beka, Heidi, and myself are all missionaries serving in Taiwan.  We were joined by two Taiwanese friends, Judy Yang who teaches at the elementary cram school, and Christy Lu, who is a friend from Friday Night Bible Study.  Finally Andrea Bolignini, who serves as a missionary in Hong Kong, completed our group. 

While in India, we were able to meet up with Dave and Beth Hoeppner, who are currently serving there to work on English Bible Curriculum Development.  Dave and Beth were a tremendous help with every day needs and coordinating service opportunities.  The trip was an amazing experience both in terms of ministry and culture.  There is no way to full encompass all that happened in this one newsletter, but I will touch on the highlights of the trip.  I’ll start with some quick cultural facts about the country.

Much of the ministry coincided with English learning, which in itself is common in ministry throughout Asia.  However, unlike most Asian countries where learning English is often used for international communications, Indians learn English to open lines of communication within their own country.  Due to previous occupation by the British, English is common place in India.  But, each state or province also has their own language that is the primary language of that area.  So, in India the urgency to improve English opens up doors and communication with the other states in the country.  We worked assisted with English learning with deaconesses, pastors and seminarians, and with elementary students.

Deaconess Conference

One of the primary purposes of this trip was to lead an English conference for deaconesses who attended the Indian Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC) Pastor’s conference.  Most of these deaconesses were pastor’s wives who had made the trip to the conference with their husbands.  We helped them practice and learn English over three days by leading them in song, Bible study, and other activities.  Some of the songs we taught them include God is So Good, and To You Oh Lord.  All of the activities helped to provide much needed English practice, and still helped us all focus on God and his love.

One activity we did was making witness bracelets.  Using thread, the ladies looped and tied yellow, black, red, white, green, and purple colors to make a bracelet that is colorful, but also tells the story of God’s love.  Below is a guide to show what each color represents:

Yellow: God made everything perfect

Black: People sinned, and now we all have sin

Red: Jesus’ blood, which was shed when he died on the cross

White: We are forgiven

Green: God gives us faith and we grow closer to him

Purple: Royalty, God is king now and forever, and we are his children

The ladies enjoyed making these bracelets and chatting while we created them.  I pray that they will be a tool that they can use to witness Christ’s love to people they meet in India.

Pastors and Seminarians

We also had a lot of interaction with the pastors and seminarians in southern India.  Again, many times we interacted with them to learn more about their ministry, or to help them practice English.  Sometime this involved fun activities, including eating meals together, going to shops, and even playing cricket.  Cricket was a personal highlight of mine, as it was my first time playing the game, and even though I didn’t always know what I was doing, it was fun to get out there and have fun.

God provided us with a great chance to help in their ministry when we went to their Gospel Centers.  Every Friday, the seminarians spilt up into teams and go to different homes and villages in the city and the surrounding area.  Our group also split up into pairs and were able to go to the 5 different centers with the seminarians.  I went with Judy Yang and we went to a rural village outside of the city.  The village was extremely poor and animals wondered around on the path running through the village.  The homes were made of straw or hay.  There were 3 seminarians with us, and we helped them to tell a Bible story, sing some songs and play a game.  The children were very energetic and full of smiles, and it was a great chance to tell them that Jesus loves them.

As we interacted with the seminarians, we had the chance to learn many stories about how these men of God came to faith and how God is using them in the ministry.  Some even shared stories about persecution that they are facing in India.  One man, Stanley Joseph was a particularly friendly and helpful fellow.  He specializes in children’s ministry, realizing that they are the future generation of the church.  Stanley shared a story about persecution he faced, when he attempted to show a video about Jesus to some people in his home state.  As they watched, the people grew angry and threw rocks at the screen.  They then tried to throw rocks at Stanley and his friends as they tried to leave in their car.  Stanley also told us that a new law had been passed in his state, in which Christians who were in a non-Christians home and trying to evangelize, could legally have one of their hands cut-off if they were caught doing this.  Please pray for the pastors of India as they minister to their congregations, and the seminarians as they study and work at Gospel Centers. 

English Medium School

English teaching opened up another opportunity to witness the love of Christ.  On the seminary campus is a private school called the English Medium School.  This is a school for elementary students, and all of the classes are taught in English, to help build

the children’s base at a young age.  It is only in its second year of being open, but enrollment greatly increased from the first to second year.  We went to the school two days, and lead an assembly each day.  At the assembly we sang songs and performed a couple of skits for the students.  We also broke into pairs and traveled to the classrooms leading the students in more songs, reading Bible stories, teaching about Chinese New Year, and helping them to perform a skit. 

Each day, we also had the chance to meet with the principal, Dr. Johnson.  He is a strong man of faith who is on fire for the Lord.  He talked with us about the school and its mission to educate the youth, love them, and teach them about the love of Jesus.  He shared one story that really stuck with me.  The school has one student who has a disability in her legs, and therefore cannot walk.  Dr. Johnson told us about when the parents first came to the school. 

The girl’s family was a Hindu family, who had even named her after one of the Hindu gods.  When they came to the English Medium School they were desperate for help.  Their daughter had been denied entrance into the other schools in the area because of her disability.  They felt as though they had nowhere to go, and feared that her condition was some sort of punishment.  Dr. Johnson, told the parents that his school would take her and they would love her.  He also told the parents that she was not a curse or punishment, rather her condition was a blessing.  It was a blessing that God would use to show his glory.  It would bring the family closer together, and be used for God’s purpose. 

The child attended the school last year, and is now in her second year at the school.  Once, she had to go to the hospital for an operation.  Dr. Johnson told us that her parents were worried and scared, but that this girl had faith in God.  Before entering the room for the operation, she asked to have Dr. Johnson pray with her.  The operation went well, and she continues to attend the school.  Dr. Johnson said her faith in Jesus is strong, and that the family now views it as a privilege to take care of their daughter.

These are just three examples of ways in which God is working in the lives of the people in India.  Honestly, I could write more stories and share more examples that God presented to share the Gospel in India, but I feel as though I have written a lot already.

It’s Prayer Time

  1. Please pray for the pastors, deaconesses and seminarians in India who are sharing the Gospel and face persecution. Pray that God would keep them safe and bless their efforts to share his love.
  2. Pray for Stanley Joseph as he completes seminary this year and will be a pastor next year. Pray for God to prepare him and to use him to further God’s kingdom.
  3. Praise God that I will be returning to Taiwan for another year of service.
  4. Pray for an upcoming moving project that my fellow missionaries and I are working on. It is a modern retelling of the Prodigal Son.
  5. Pray for my students, that I may boldly share Christ with them in my words and actions.
  6. Pray for new missionaries to come to Taiwan next year. We are replacing several teachers and pray for God to fill those spots.

Financial Support

If you would like to support the mission work out here in Taiwan, I need to raise funds for next year.  I do not have an exact figure yet, but it will most likely be similar to last year’s which was $9,500.   If you feel called to support in this regard, please send a check to:

Missionary Support
LCMS World Mission
1333 S. Kirkwood Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63122

On the memo line for the check please write “Mark Wolfram account #50152”.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this matter, and for your prayers and encouragement.  May you all have a blessed Easter!

Mr. Mark Wolfram
Concordia Middle School
31 Chien Kuo Road, Section 2
Min Hsiung, Chia Yi County 621
Taiwan ROC