Fall 2005 * Taiwan Prayer Letter of Joel & Judy Linton * TPL 7.3

Some Highlights of 2005
Please check the following website for photos related to this prayer letter. Photos7.3

Joel was ordained in November of 2004 after an extensive series of ordination exams. Two months later, our Taipei church plant, New Hope Christian Fellowship, hosted a commissioning service for his work in Taiwan. One special guest was Rev. C.M. Kao, an internationally known Taiwanese Presbyterian pastor who was imprisoned for taking a stand on human rights abuses in Taiwan. He gave a wonderful talk in Taiwanese about Taiwan's need for more laborers. Rev. Tim Conkling and Dr. Tim Yates, both PCA missionaries, joined in praying for Joel.

New Hope - Taipei as well as two other church plants (Lotus Hill Community Church in Hsi-Chi City and Chidu Hope Church in Keelung) keep Joel busy. Evangelism, teaching, preaching, training men to become elders, and leading services fill up weekends and many a week day. We thank the Lord that the Lotus Hill church has grown to about 35 regular attenders and the Taipei church now has non-profit status which will enable it to offer work visas to missionaries and foreign pastors. At our Chidu church we have a faithful Taiwanese pastoral intern, and pray that he will see much fruit from his labors there.

Judy continues to sing at various events. Her voice and music have sounded at evangelistic meetings, concerts, TV interviews and even the Taiwan National Prayer Breakfast this year. She's also been busy with writing, just recently finishing her infant care book (how to train your babies to sleep through the night, etc.) Our friend Jean Heidel has translated it beautifully into Chinese and we are about finalized on a publisher.

Because of his ordination there were many firsts for Joel, giving benedictions, leading communion services and in June 2005, Joel had the delight to perform his first baptism of a Taiwanese believer. Jeff, a Taiwanese man, came to faith at New Hope. Someone in the United States planted Gospel seeds while Jeff was in college there, but the fruit we were able to pick ten years later. So wherever you are living, please remember to reach out to the Taiwanese living in your area. You might never personally see the impact that you made for the kingdom here in Taiwan.

In July 2005, a short-term mission team from the Atlanta Chinese Christian Church came to Taipei. Joel and three team members surveyed rural areas in I-Lan County (over the mountains 1.5 hours southeast of Taipei City) for future church-planting work. They visited many places and spoke with local pastors, and two target areas in particular were identified. 1. Yuan Shan Township with 12 surrounding villages has ZERO Taiwanese-speaking churches in a population of 30,000 of mostly farmers. 2. Chao-Hsi Township, a tourist hot-spring resort area has 40,000 people but only ONE church. And this church only has around 40 people. After Joel's Taiwanese improves, the Lord willing, these two townships will be our next target area for church planting. We expect it to take quite a few years of meeting people and building trust for hearts to open to the Gospel.

Reaching Taiwanese for Christ somtimes leads us to travel to other continents. Being such successful businessmen, many Taiwanese have settled in cities all around Southeast Asia. And there are around 12,000 Taiwanese in Brisbane, Australia, but only one Taiwanese-speaking church there. Their pastor, Ben Lo, and his congregation invited us to go this October to give two nights of outreach concerts.

And so at the end of September, for the first time ever, Judy and I got to visit Australia. It is a beautiful place. The koalas really are soft, cuddly and laid-back -- we have pictures to prove it -- and many Australians tell us that they, themselves, are just like the koalas in their dispositions. But many people are very, very lost. Australia does not have as many Christians as you might have expected. And only a small portion of the Taiwanese in Brisbane are Christian. There is a place for OUTREACH.

The Taiwanese church did a really good job of advertising and inviting non-Christians. They put ads in the Chinese-language papers. Judy's concert posters were up everywhere in Brisbane. We took one picture of her poster at a Japanese restaurant. All the surrounding posters advertized invitations to various Buddhist events and activities. But Judy's was able to point toward the path to True Enlightenment through the Light of the World.

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said --- I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12

About 1300 people ATTENDED the concerts and over half were not Christians! The pastor had asked those who were Christians to stand up, and over half of the audience stayed seated. This was so encouraging because in past outreach events they had organized, usually 90 percent of the people who showed up were already believers. (Part 2 in our next prayer letter will give some more details on how it went.)

Whether reaching out to your neighbor or traveling across the world, sharing the Gospel is taking part God's plan and working toward a goal that He has beautifully revealed in the last book of the Bible:
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb ... and they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' "
Revelation 7:9-10

You'll find difficult to reach people groups in many unique places. Following is a subgroup in Taiwan whom we hope to reach.

If you are at work, would you have the TV on? Your boss probably would not be very happy about that. It's not a common sight in most places, but in Taiwan, some workers have their TV on ALL THE TIME. They are the small shop owners in the cities. They may sell shoes, stationary, flowers or even betel nut (Taiwanese chew betel nut for a nicotine fix instead of chewing tobacco). And then there are the many small mom-and-pop noodle shops. Muchy of these shop-owners' time is spent waiting, waiting for customers. They do have busy times of the day. But the rest of the time they are free to do basic tasks while watching their favorite drama or political talk show.

The shop encompasses most of their lives. They might be there twelve hours a day... and only go home to a small apartment to sleep. (We know they get home late because we hear them playing with their children in the small park behind our apartment building at 10:30 p.m. after we ourselves have already gone to bed.)

When you are always at work, you are not going to be reached with the Gospel unless the Gospel comes into your shop. But oftentimes, the shop owners are not very interested in having some stranger come in to try to talk to them about religion and hand them a Gospel tract.

Do you have any ideas about how you would reach a group like them for Christ? (Please email us... we'd love to hear your throughts.) And we'll tell you about two ideas to do just that in our next prayer letter.

As many of you know, I have switched my language studies from Mandarin to Taiwanese because it is the heart language of 60-70 percent of the population of Taiwan. (Judy already speaks both languages.) However, Taiwanese is still not used very much in schools because of the KMT-era dictatorship that had a Mandarin-only policy. So we are not sure what will happen in future generations. In the next letter, we will include an article about this challenge for the church. I have a page in taiwanchurch.org where I periodically post some of the fruits of my studies for those of you interested in the Taiwanese language.


and finally

    1. For Joel - self-discipline to persever in language studies, support raising and recruiting

    2. For our marriage- Joel: "I need to be more loving and understanding of my wife like Christ loves the Church." Judy: "I struggle with bitterness and depression. I want to fix into my heart new habits of thanksgiving and joy."

    3. For our last three years in Taiwan, our annual support income has averaged about US$ 28,000. (For the cost of living in Taiwan, ideally, we should be receiving at least $40,000 per year). We have gotten by largely due to unexpected help along the way like Judy's parents generously stepping in to help pay for our down payment on the apartment and other expenses. As you can imagine, even our target support level is low for a family with 3 children. We also do not have enough to cover all the airplane tickets. Please pray that God will help us raise more support and regular supporters.

    4. MORE LABORERS. Please pray that God will raise up more laborers who will want to brave "closed-heart" nations like Taiwan. Many have their eyes set on China and few currently feel a call to labor in Taiwan. Our work is limited only by the availability of workers. We've had to hold off on a lot of church planting projects due to lack of laborers. (If any of you reading this feel a tug on your own hearts to come, please contact us and we will be glad to give you any information, advice and help you through the process of considering mission work in Taiwan.)

Thanks to our many faithful supporters. It is your partnership that sends us to Taiwan, and even to Australia!

Stay tuned for updates on the three church plants in Taipei and other ministries. And please periodically check our website: taiwanchurch.org/~linton

We'd love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas to you all.

The Linton family,
Joel, Judy, Faith, Charis, and Ashlyn
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

Thanks again.

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