By Mark Wolfram
Reporting on God’s mission in Taiwan
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope and pray you had a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Jesus, this child who has forever changed the world and our hearts. Here in Taiwan, my Christmas season is always filled with a plethora of activities, and this year was no exception. While it is impossible to capture all of the joy, excitement, and emotion on a piece of paper, I hope this update can give you a glimpse into the opportunities God presented to share his love this Christmas season.
Christmas at Concordia Middle School!
One huge blessing of teaching at CMS is all of the opportunities to share the Gospel to the students. Below are some of Christmas activities used to help reach them.
On Thursday December 17th, the students who live at school celebrated Christmas and learned about Jesus’ birth through singing Christmas songs, watching a drama performed by the American teachers, reading the Christmas story, and taking a Christmas quiz. The quiz presented questions about the first Christmas, fun Christmas facts, and cultural questions about Christmas in America. The students with the highest scores were given candy canes. If you want to take the quiz, it is linked in the official Team Taiwan blog, located at: http://lcmsteamtaiwan.blogspot.com/
The quiz is linked within the text of blog post titled “ OSF Christmas party.”
On Thursday December 23rd, 7th grade students gathered in Luther Chapel, and 8th-11th grade students gathered in the auditorium for Christmas worship. From 8:00-9:30, students had worship which included two skits, songs, a choir piece, and a message. Rick Hong, the Dean of Concordia’s Religion Department, reflected this past week that there were several students who specifically told him how they enjoyed the worship service and felt touched by it.
The American teachers at the Junior High and High School participated in the worship service by performing a skit called the Bad News Bandits. In the skit, a group of rough and mean cowboys found a baby who ended up changes their lives. This is just like Jesus, who came and changed us from sinners to forgiven children of God. If you would like to watch it, the skit is linked on our Team Taiwan Website. It is uploaded in two parts. Click the following:
As for me, my biggest role in the drama is the voice of the baby, so all of that annoying wailing is me, ha! However I do make a few other short appearances on stage, see if you can find them.
Each year, 7th grade (also known as Junior 1) through 11th grade (also known as Senior 2) students, have a couple of intra-grade competitions. One of these is the Christmas song contest. For this competition each class needs to select a conductor, a pianist, and two songs to sing for the judges. One of the songs needs to be a Christmas song, and other needs to be a religious song. Everyone in the class participates, and they spend over a month preparing to sing.
I know I have written this in the past, but I love this activity. Listening to the Senior High Competition has become a Christmas tradition of mine and an absolutely wonderful way to spend the afternoon. It brings such joy to my heart, hearing the students sing praises to God. In addition, it is something they will always remember, and I pray God will use the words of those songs to impact their lives and help them know more about who he is.
Last year I provided some links to songs, and I’ll do the same this year. Please click on the following to hear the winning class of the Senior High Competition: Senior 2 Class E. The first song is in Chinese, the second one is in Taiwanese. Enjoy! I definitely did.
The second intra-grade level Christmas competition that the students have at CMS is the Christmas tree contest. This time, 7th-11th graders are each given a tree or shrub on the main part of campus. They then need to decorate their tree to show a Bible story or Biblical theme. Below are some pictures of the Christmas trees:
On Thursday evening, December 23rd, the students and teachers who live at CMS went around the neighborhood Christmas caroling. Taking guitars and song sheets, we stopped at homes and business in the area, proclaiming Jesus’ birth through song.
Christmas at Church.
In addition to school, Salvation Lutheran Church had several activities in which Christians here in Taiwan were able to spread the Good News.
The children and helpers of Salvation Lutheran’s weekly kids camp, spent Saturday December 18th at an orphanage in Chia-Yi city. Here the kids played games with the orphans, sang songs, gave gifts, and even performed a skit for them.
I helped to lead the children in songs, playing guitar for two Chinese songs, and a Christmas version of “This is the Day”. Praise God for this chance to witness in the community, and giving our children at church to learn about sharing Christmas with kids who are less fortunate.
Sunday Morning Worship and Love Feast
On Sunday morning, December 19th Salvation Lutheran had their annual Christmas worship service and Love Feast. The children from the Saturday school came and performed their skit for the members of the church and their parents. Most of these parents normally drop their children off on Saturdays for the kids camp, but neither the children nor the parents attend services. However, on Christmas the sanctuary was full of children and their parents, and all of them heard the message of Jesus Christ being born as a baby to be our savior from sin.
After the worship service, everyone stuck around for the Love Feast. This celebratory meal featured an enormous serving line of dishes including salads, chicken, fish, fruit, and soups. It was nice time for people to chat and have fellowship.
On Christmas Eve, over 50 teachers and students attend this activity, which took place instead of the normal Friday Night Bible Study. The carolers went to 4 neighboring apartment buildings. There, we sang songs in English and Chinese, both with guitar and acapella. In addition, Mikey (one of our Taiwanese brothers), led the people in a short game. I played guitar for the songs along with Ben Riley, Stanley (an 11th grade student at CMS), and Stephanie (a 9th grade students at CMS).
Youth Group Christmas Worship and Party
On Sunday evening, January 26th, we had a youth worship and Christmas party for students of Salvation Lutheran Youth Group. We began the evening with a gift exchange game, where each kid could take a gift from under the tree, or exchange it for a gift that had already been taken. All of the gifts were small little items purchased at Diaso, which is the Japanese version of the “Everything’s $1.00 Store.”
I planned and lead the youth worship. We had 4 hymns, confession, the creed, and a short message on the names of Jesus as found in Isaiah 9:6. After worship we all enjoyed Domino’s pizza and decorated Christmas cookies.
All in all, it was a very fun evening, focused on Christ’s love and Christian fellowship.
It’s Prayer Time!
1. Praise God for all of these Christmas activities, and pray for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of all who heard the message.
2. Pray for the teachers at CMS, both American and Taiwanese, as we rest up from Christmas, and start to transition to end of the semester grading. May God give us strength, energy, and focus.
3. Praise God that Noel Schaff was able to return safely to Taiwan. She is now taking the remainder of the semester off, to heal and rest up. However, she will be teaching with us full time again next semester. Please pray for her continued recovery.
4. Pray for James Rush, as he continues to teach Noel’s classes this semester. We are working with the school to finalize a schedule for him to stay on as a teacher next semester. Please pray for him and that process.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!