Taiwan Prayer Letter 7.2 * Spring 2005 * Joel & Judy Linton, Missionaries to Taiwan * Taiwan Church Planting Partners


Dear partners for the Gospel,

This prayer letter only has two articles:

1. I write about my experience at the top of the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101, looking out at the harvest field of Taiwan

2. Judy gives you a sense of the differences of culture and life on the mission field here. We hope you enjoy them. *


-----------------------------------------

But when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’
- Matthew 6:36-37 (NKJV)

-----------------------------------------

Looking Out Over the Harvest Field

Because of the myriad of details in their labors, missionaries sometimes need to recharge their souls with the big picture of the vision that brought them to their field of ministry in the first place. I took an opportunity recently to do just that by visiting the tallest building in the world. From our apartment it takes only about fifteen minutes by bus, because, actually it is in the city where we live in Taiwan. And its name is " Taipei 101". It was designed to look a little like a jointed sugarcane stalk because one of Taiwan's foundational industries almost a hundred years ago was sugar. Other's have likened the building to a many-segmented insect larva. I myself prefer to think of it as sugarcane, and so am able to retain a fondness for it as I see it standing above everything from almost every point in the city .

Well, Taipei 101 is quite amazing. Because its elevators are the fastest in the world, they must be pressurized like an airplane and it only take forty-three seconds from the bottom to reach the 89th-floor observation deck. I wanted to visit Taipei 101 so I could look down to see the land of my labor at the beginning of my ministry, like when Moses went up to the top of Pisgah on Mount Nebo to view the promised land of Canaan at the end of his ministry. And as I looked around at the incredibly densely populated city and the mountains rising all around the Taipei City basin, I began to pray for Taipei and for Taiwan.

I noticed several things looking down.

1. There are just so many people packed into the narrow valleys and broader basins around the very high and steep central mountain ranges of this island nation. There are just so many people! Over twenty-two million live on an island about the size of Maryland, but crammed into the lowlands near the coastline. And so, so few of them are Christians, perhaps only 2 percent. And I felt: who is equal to such a task? It was a little bit overwhelming. And so I prayed for more workers for the harvest.

2. In the mass of apartment complexes and office high-rises, you can hardly see any church buildings. The churches are so, so small and weak. In Taiwan, churches with a hundred people would be considered relatively big and strong. Many Christians do not have a clear understanding of the Gospel and much of the preaching is more about morals or a general loyalty to Jesus. How could this kind of church have an impact on twenty-two million Taiwanese? How can we serve and strengthen the Taiwanese Christians?

3. As I turned my gaze from the view outside to the observation deck itself, I saw people from so many different countries. Taipei is an international city. So many people pass through it. In our first church plant, New Hope Christian Fellowship - Taipei, started in 2003, people are always coming and going, staying in Taiwan for a few years and then moving on or moving home. It’s hard to plant stable churches with such a turnover.

But also, what a wonderful opportunity! Every Friday beginning in April, I have been meeting a Christian research scientist from South India to train him to help at New Hope-Taipei. He will one day return to strengthen the church in his home country. And he and I have also been meeting a Muslim from Bangladesh with whom we have shared the Gospel. We have had a young man from Wales and another from Ireland come to faith at New Hope, though both are moving back home this fall. Currently in addition to Taiwanese, there are people from Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, etc. all being ministered to in this bilingual church. Though our focus is on reaching the Taiwanese, we are so happy to be able to reach so many from other nations. Two couples from the church here have already gone on to become missionaries themselves. Oh that God would multiply the harvest!

4. I noticed something else. Although Taipei 101 is the tallest building in the world, the mountains around the Taipei basin are taller still. They jut up at steep angles. In fact though Taiwan is an island, Taiwan’s Jade Mountain (over 3900 meters high) is the highest mountain in all of East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Siberia, Taiwan...) east of the Himalayas. And it really reminded me that despite all the swarming masses of humanity who are not yet interested in hearing the Gospel, God is still in charge. God is higher still. And He has the power to open eyes and soften hearts. I have seen Him do so and I pray that he does so even more.

And so I prayed for the people of Taiwan, and for the Lord’s laborers here. It was a good recharge for me at the top of the world.


Will you join me?

--- in prayer --- in support
--- in coming yourself?

*

- JOEL

Judy’s thoughts on our life here:


Some Interesting Differences ...

Well, as a mom of three little girls (5, 3, 1) living in Taiwan, I thought I might share some daily ‘lifestyle’ differences for those moms and children who might be reading this prayer letter back in the USA. It might be fun for you imagine what our daily lives are like here.

Our Apartment
First of all, we live in Taipei, the capitol city of the country of Taiwan. We live in a 3- bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of a 12- story building. We have no outside space to ourselves, no yard and no balcony because we enclosed our balconies to make our apartment more spacious. Therefore, we have to be creative about playing outside. We do have a community park right behind our building. But before the girls go there, we all spray ourselves with bug spray because there are lots of mosquitoes.
Recently, we discovered the rooftop of our building. On sunny days, we take our laundry up there to dry. And almost every day, the girls go up there to play. Although there are no slides or playground gyms up there, it’s still a wide open space where the kids can run around and even ride their bikes. Our older girls seek out plastic bullets that some boys must have shot from toy guns up there. Our youngest seeks out rocks and concrete chips. It’s their version of looking for seashells at the seashore. It’s nice up on the rooftop because one can often feel a breeze and there are no mosquitoes so high up. From the rooftop, we can also see Taipei 101, the tallest building in the whole world.
Sixty families live in our building. There are also over 20 businesses in our building, too: several architectural firms, lawyer’s offices, even a dentist office and others. In fact, my own father had his law practice here in this same building over 20 years ago. The apartment we live in now used to be a small record company office. We kept some of their old office furniture and use it as our dining table and chairs. What’s funny is that every weekday morning at 9:00 and every weekday afternoon at 5:00, music comes on over the building’s public speakers. I think it’s for the business employees coming in and leaving work.
Unfortunately, there is no other family with small children in our building. And our nearest neighbor down the hall are quite unfriendly. They try their best to avoid us. We think they don’t like kids and they don’t like seeing the strollers and bikes parked outside our door.
On rainy days, our kids have to resort to walking around the building. They usually make a stop on the 10th floor to see a pair of beautiful love birds kept in a cage out in the corridor. The kids also enjoy seeing and feeding our leftover bones to the building’s resident stray dog.
We do not have a car. But our building does have parking space. Aside from some outdoors parking, there’s also parking in the basement of our building. But there’s no ramp/driveway leading down to the basement. Instead, cars must first enter a small car elevator. Then the elevator lowers the cars into the basement parking lot.

Our Neighborhood
Let me describe to you a little bit about our neighborhood. We live on a major street in a downtown neighborhood. When we exit our building, right next door is a bank. And in the basement under the bank is a popular expensive Shanghai restaurant. Right across our street is a traditional Buddhist/Taoist temple. If you walk around our block on the major streets, you’ll see several more banks, more ‘sharks fin and shrimp’ (high class) restaurants (we cannot afford), a Japanese restaurant, 2 Thai restaurants, and very high-end European furniture stores. You’ll also see several convenience stores including 7-Eleven. You will also see McDonald’s, Subway, and Mos Burger, the most popular fast food restaurant in Taipei (Yes, more popular than McDonald’s). Mos uses rice as their burger buns. Well, it’s nothing like a McDonald’s hamburger. Anyway, these are all places you can go to without leaving our block.
Now if you go away from the major streets and INTO our block (behind the high-rise buildings), it’s a little bit different. Gone are the tall buildings and banks. Here you will find small alleyways with many small noodle shops and mom-and-pop restaurants, the kind of restaurants that our family can afford but don’t actually frequent. Behind our apartment building down a small alley is a smaller temple and shop which sells items for idol worship like incense sticks and ghost money. Most of the buildings within the block are lower, five to six-stories high. In half a block alone, you will find 4-5 day care centers, filled with children from 2-6 years old. Just about everything you need is within this half-block. For example, we can purchase all our fruits and vegetables from vendors off the street. There are at least 2 film developing places. There’s a pediatrician, a couple of dentists and a pharmacy. There are several barber shops and beauty salons. There’s a stationary store and there’s a video/book rental place. And there’s even a public library that has English books. It is wonderfully convenient to be able to return videos and books within a five minute’s walk (270 paces).

Our Week
Well, aside from the children’s play, play, play (and occasional fights) every day, we try to do a little homeschool and a few times a week our five-year-old practices her piano. Just last week, our two older girls started dance class. It’s a good way for them to get some exercise. Instead of piling into a van, our girls and I take a 15 minute walk to dance class, which is on the next major street. On rainy days the girls have their own small red umbrellas with which to try and keep themselves dry on our walk there. Dance class is also a good way for me to meet other moms with small children. Our three year old doesn’t understand Mandarin yet. But she does a good job of copying the movements of her Taiwanese dance teacher. However, after going twice she hasn’t wanted to go back to dance class. We’re not sure if it’s the language barrier.
On Saturday night, we host an “Intro to the Bible” Bible study in our home. Only 1-2 people, both non-Christians, have been coming, one of them being a cousin of mine. But I don’t feel discouraged. It makes me very happy to be able to teach someone who has never heard anything about what the Bible teaches. We have to start from the very beginning, explaining about the Old Testament and the New Testament. We even have to explain to them about the concept of chapters and verses. At our last Bible study, my cousin asked, “What does sacrifice mean?” Concepts many of us take for granted are completely unknown to them. Joel did a good job explaining the concept in depth.

Our Church
On Sunday mornings, there’s the usual hustle bustle of getting 3 little girls ready to go to church. Then we walk a little ways to hail a cab. We take a taxi to church and back every Sunday. It costs us about $3 each way. We have about 45 people at our church, New Hope Christian Fellowship. Perhaps only 1 person from our church drives her own car to church every Sunday. Most people from church go by scooters, by the subway, or by bus. One family goes by bicycle. One bike. The dad peddles the bike, the mom sits in the back of the bike and their one-year-old daughter sits in a baby seat in front of the dad. It’s definitely the most convenient and economical way to travel.



*
- JUDY

-----------------------------------------------------------


www.taiwanchurch.org/~linton
www.judylinton.com



We hope you enjoyed the little taste and texture of life here in Taiwan. Stay tuned for descriptions of specific ministries here in the next prayer letter.

Current prayer requests:

1. Joel’s
• hosting (putting to work) some short-term missionaries this summer
• looking for a new Taiwanese-language teacher.
• training leaders in each church plant
• beginning preparation for the future church-planting work in the countryside


2. Judy’s 95% finished with her infant-care book (how to train children to sleep through the night). She is beginning to work on an English translation of her autobiography/testimony book.

3. New Hope: In less that 3 months, five of our core members will be moving away or back to their native countries.

*

------------------------------------------------------------
We are always very happy to hear how you are doing and answer any of your questions. Please contact us.

May God bless you all richly! To God be the Glory.
In Christ, The Linton family


Support Address:

Make checks payable to
Taiwan Church Planting Partners
mark “for Linton support” on the memo line, and mail to:

Taiwan Church Planting Partners
Suite 200
2200 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
U.S.A.