|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.
GIVING VOICE TO THE GOSPEL
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.
SURVEYING NEW HARVEST FIELDS in TAIWAN
KANGAROOS, KOALAS and KIWIS (Part 1)
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.
About 1300 people ATTENDED the concerts and over half were not
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.)
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.)
THE GOAL OF MISSIONS
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:
You'll find difficult to reach people groups in many unique places. Following is a subgroup in Taiwan whom we hope to reach.
REACHING PEOPLE WHO SPEND THEIR DAYS with TV (Part 1)
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.
WHAT LANGUAGE WILL THEY SPEAK IN TAIWAN in 50 years (Part 1)
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.)
We'd love to hear from you.
Merry Christmas to you all.
The Linton family,