Feature

The Heart of Asia

Online Exclusive: God is pursuing many Taiwanese for His glory.

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As I was walking down the bustling streets of Ximending in Taipei, Taiwan, toward my apartment, I noticed a promotional tourism sticker on the window of one of the many shops lining the street. The sticker read, “Taiwan: The Heart of Asia.”

As a recent business school graduate, I was curious why the Taiwan Tourism Bureau would choose this particular saying as its catchphrase. I wondered what made Taiwan “The Heart of Asia.”

The press release that accompanied the new marketing campaign commented, “Taiwan is a fusion of tradition with new trends. Its special characteristics and diversity present what is precisely a microcosm of Asia.” This campaign also included a catchy song called “Time for Taiwan.” The lyrics say:

Taiwan. Formosa. The Heart of Asia.
The time for you is now!
Life and love can’t wait.
Taiwan opens its heart to you.
The time for Taiwan is now!

I smiled as I listened to this tune. Unknowingly, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau echoed the very heart of the Alliance workers in Taiwan. God is moving in Taiwan, and He is pursuing many Taiwanese lives for His glory.

Spiritual Climate

Taiwan, or more formally the Republic of China, is a country with little Christian influence, identity, or hope. This small island nation of more than 23 million people is in constant political limbo, either belonging to or having independence from China. This lack of firm identity, along with economic stagnation, has taken its toll. Every two hours a person in Taiwan commits suicide.

The Heart of Asia
A woman is baptized on Easter at the Aroma church. (Photo by Alisha Harmon)

Recently, uncharacteristically violent crimes and disasters have struck Taiwan, including devastating earthquakes, murders, stabbings, explosions, and plane crashes. In March a mentally unstable man beheaded a four-year-old girl in front of her mother while they were walking to the subway. He had no relationship to the family.

The spiritual climate in Taiwan is oppressive. Taiwan has the most temples per capita in the world, and elements of Buddhism, Taoism, ancestral worship, and other Eastern religions deeply ingrain the culture. Envision Taipei often feels the spiritual oppression through constant sickness and exhaustion.

In spite of all of this opposition, the gospel is pushing back the darkness. In the past decade, the percentage of Christians in Taiwan has risen from 2 percent to almost 4 percent. The Envision site’s church plant, The Aroma, has reached attendance levels of 80 people a week just four years after opening the church. It is looking for a new location to seat more people and considering establishing a satellite site elsewhere in Taipei.

The Aroma church is full of new believers who ask great questions about Christianity and how it applies to their lives. It is exciting to see new believers come alive in Christ. The shift in their lives is monumental. Most of the current full-time Taiwanese staff members at Aroma have given up better paying jobs and their former lifestyles to serve God in the church that brought them to a life in Christ.

Strategic Location

The Envision team has had many visions about the future of Taiwan and the role it has to play in the Great Commission. When Chris and Jamie O’Dell first arrived in Taiwan, they were given a vision of a map of Asia, and on this map, the small island of Taiwan eclipsed China in size and global influence.

The Heart of Asia
A street in the Ximending neighborhood in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo by Caleb Wallace)

Another friend of Aroma told us of a vision she had that showed Taiwan linked to every nation in the Pacific Ring with heavy chains. These chains represented the spiritual connection between Taiwan and the rest of the world. When the chains of darkness, hopelessness, depression, false religions, and demonic forces are broken in Taiwan and the freedom of Christ is experienced, the effects will impact the entire world.

In the Pacific theater of World War II, some of the bloodiest battles were fought over the smallest of islands, which had incredible strategic importance to the overall war. The same can be said for Taiwan in the spiritual battle we now face. Taiwanese communities have spread out across the entire world, and new Taiwanese missionaries are rising up to go where no American can go. Taiwan literally holds the ancestral heart of China, and it is strategically located in the center of Eastern Asia.

Although members of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau probably did not choose that catch phrase thinking of its spiritual parallels, they got it absolutely right. God is moving in the Heart of Asia, and it is a privilege to witness. The time for Taiwan to experience the love of Christ is now.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will pour Himself upon Taiwan and that its people will throw off the burdens of sin and hopelessness to accept Christ’s love and life.

Taiwan. Formosa. The Heart of Asia.
The time for you is now!
Life and love can’t wait.
Taiwan opens its heart to you.
The time for Taiwan is now!

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