The Taiwan Times – December 2011

The Taiwan Times
By Mark Wolfram
Reporting on God’s mission in Taiwan
December 2011
5 In love a throne will be established;
in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
one from the house of David—
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.
Isaiah 16:5
Merry Christmas
I love Christmas in Taiwan. There’s really no other way of putting it. As you’ll see from this newsletter, Christmas out here is packed full of activities that make celebrating the birth of Jesus a meaningful and heart- warming experience. I pray that the pictures and links provided here will give you a small glimpse into how God has been working in the lives of the Taiwanese people over the last few weeks, and how the Christians here celebrated the birth of the king, whose throne is established love. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to spread that love and that message to as many people as possible.
Christmas Skit
Every year the American teachers create and perform a skit for the school’s Christmas worship. This year we based it on the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-29), and incorporated the popular computer game “Angry Birds.” In the story 4 pigs left home to start out on their own. 2 of the pigs built their house in the sand, while the other two built their houses on the rock. Only the house on the rock was able to withstand the attack of the Angry Birds. Of course the connection to our lives is that Jesus is that rock, and we should build our lives on him. If you want to watch our skit, please click on the link below:

CMS Songs

Every Christmas, Concordia Middle School holds a couple of competitions between the classes in each grade level. One is the Christmas Song Contest, in which students of each class work together to perform 2 songs for their grade level and a panel of judges. At least one of the songs must be a Christian Christmas song, and the other song can be a secular song. However, most classes do select to Christian songs. I am a big fan of the song competition, as I love seeing their hard work come together and hearing the students sing praises to Jesus. For me personally, it makes for a relaxing afternoon every year as I go to listen to the high school students perform their pieces. If you want to hear some songs, click on the link below. These are from a couple of 11th grade classes.
Senior 2 A: This class is the 2011 winner of the song competition

Senior 2.F: This class has quite a few of my former students and they have a lively rendition of “I Will Follow Him”, performed Sister Act style.

Christmas Trees

In addition to the song competition, each class must also work together to create a Christmas tree. Each class is assigned a tree somewhere on the grounds of the school, and must choose a Bible story and incorporate the theme of that Bible story into their Christmas tree. Common themes include Jesus’ feeding of 5,000, the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus turning water into wine, the first Christmas, and Noah’s ark. Again, these trees are a great chance for each class to work together and use their creativity to display a Bible story using recycled goods.
Eric Wei, the tech guy at our school, put together a slide show of the Christmas trees this year. If you’re interested in seeing more, click on the following link:

Both of these activities make Christmas at Concordia Middle School truly special time of year. The trees light up the campus in the evening, making it absolutely beautiful as the lights twinkle. Also, the activities are all outreach focused, helping students learn about God through Bible stories or songs. It is such a comfort to know that the school’s celebration of Christmas is ground in the helping students learn about God.

 The students in turn love these competitions and the time spent celebrating Christmas at Concordia. I was walking around on Sunday evening, enjoying the trees and praying for my students. As I was making my way through the trees, I ran into 3 former students of mine, who are now juniors in college. One of them goes to school here in Chia-Yi, but the other 2 go attend universities in other towns. I asked them why they were back, and all 3 decided to meet up and come to Concordia to look at the Christmas trees. It was a pleasant surprise to chat with them and continual testimony to the lasting impact of Christmas celebrations in the lives of students.
The highlight of the Christmas worship service, was Daniel Kuo’s baptism. Daniel first starting learning about Jesus at our Friday Night Bible Study several year’s ago. He continued to attend church events and learned more about God, and on Christmas Day, he was brought into God’s family through water and word. For his baptism, Daniel wrote a testimonial to share how God has worked in his life. I’ll attach the English translation of Daniel’s testimony to this email.
Prayer Time
1. Praise God for Emily Ringelberg, who will be coming to CELA to teach next semester. Praise God for her willingness to come serve, and pray for her transition. She’ll be arriving in Taiwan December 31st in the morning.
2. Praise God for a great Christmas and pray for all of these activities to work to bring people closer to faith in Christ.
3. Pray for preparations and my future travels. I will be going with 5 other people from Taiwan to Israel over Chinese New Year. We’ll be meeting up with my parents and a group traveling from Iowa.
4. Pray for my cousin Leah, her husband Matt, and their daughter Eve who will be coming to Taiwan for a short term mission trip during March and April. Pray for the preparations as they get set to travel.
5. Pray for decisions for next year. I am strongly considering a return to the States, but am seeking God’s guidance. A return to the US would potentially be to teach in a school or to attend graduate school. I see positives to both aspects, and ask for wisdom and discernment in making plans for next year.
May God give you a Merry Christmas season, and a New Year filled with hope and life in Christ!
Daniel Kuo’s Testimony

    Today is a very special day, not because it’s the day of my baptism, but rather because it’s the day to celebrate Jesus’ birth. I choose to get baptized today because it reminds me of Jesus’ incarnation and death to be our Savior from sin, and also to help me remember that Jesus is always with me.

It has been three years since I first encountered Christianity. In the beginning, I came to this church to learn English. Even though the lessons were based on the Bible, which I was quite unfamiliar with, I did not resist them. Rather, I was very happy to have these foreign missionaries be my companions. Although they lived in a foreign country, they treated me as their own family member.  I was very touched,  but this was not enough to influence me to want to be a Christian.

Later, I went to Australia by myself, to experience different types of living and to learn how to speak English fluently. When I first arrived in Australia, I was so afraid to face all the people, things and situations that were unfamiliar to me. I wished there were people who could help me, so I actively tried to find a church. Through Pastor Wu’s help, I found a Chinese church. Even though most of the church members came from South East Asia and Mainland China, they still willingly helped me.  This made me calm down a lot. Sometimes we had gatherings and ate dinner at some members’ homes, this helped me to save some money too. Later on, in order to improve my English, I tried to find local church to attend. Thankfully, in the process of finding a local church, I found out that many of them provided free English classes for people from other countries, and I also made many friends from different countries. At that time I started to feel that God really existed, because God wants us to love one another, and these people were doing just that. Therefore, when I faced difficulties, I started to pray to God. Although He didn’t answer all my prayers, I could feel Him working through all the situations.

The event that gave me the strongest impression was Christmas of that year. I wished to have a wonderful and memorable Christmas in Australia, so I prayed to God. After praying, I went to a church organized charity bazaar, and became a volunteer for that activity. While there, I met many new people, and to my surprise, they invited me to a private Christmas party.  I had only known them for 3 hours! That was truly my most memorable Christmas, and, I felt that God had really heard my prayer.

Through all these events, and not some great miracle, God has truly done a lot for me.  Yet, I have not done a thing for Him. This made me think that it’s time for me to believe in Him, and made me want to be baptized as a Christian, so others can witness God’s greatness. I’m really thankful to my English teachers, Ben and Amy, who taught me patiently and cared for me. Because of their instruction, I was willing to continue to diligently study the Bible in English.  I’m also thankful to Pastor Wu who taught me the Bible. He helps me understand the word of God clearly. And thanks to all the friends who are by my side, because of you, my faith became steadfast. Although I’m a Christian now, I still want to study the Bible diligently, pray, be close to God, have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, trust in the Lord, and always proclaim God’s word which says: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”(2 Corinthians 9:8). Our faith shall be steadfast, our views will broaden, and we’ll no longer rely on our own thoughts and emotions, but use God’s own word to evaluate our ability and potential to strengthen our faith. In closing, I really appreciate everyone who came to witness my baptism today. I believe from now on my life will be livelier, and more colorful. May all the glory be to the Lord most High, Amen!