May 4, 2012
Alliance international workers are making progress among a people group in the least-reached area of Taiwan, where less than half of 1 percent of the population follow Jesus. Regular gatherings for worship and teaching have begun in a rented facility in Yuan Chang Township, a rural community in south-central Taiwan.
The first believer in the group, Amy, named the fellowship Chi En (Amazing Grace) Church. “We met Amy during the first few months after moving into this community,” says Alliance worker Penny Iverson.
Amy, her husband, and son attended a parent-child English class taught by Penny and her husband, Tim. When the class ended, Christmas was approaching, so the Iversons invited the students to their home for a Christmas party. “That’s when Amy learned that we were Christians,” says Penny. About six months passed before they saw her again. “Then one evening, she stopped by our house. Almost the first words out of her mouth were, ‘What is a Christian, and how do I become one?’ This is very unusual in Taiwan.”
Goat and Sheep
“It is difficult for Taiwanese people to turn to Christ. They are not really persecuted, but because they value family harmony, they fear opposition from family members.” But soon after her second visit with the Iversons, Amy decided to follow Jesus.
“Amy’s growth in Christ has been steady and solid, and she’s been a real blessing to us,” Penny adds. “Her family did not oppose her decision, but her husband, Goat, became angry when Amy brought their son to church. We are praying for Goat to become a sheep in God’s pasture.”
Praying Down Strongholds
“Overall, [our ministry] is slow-going compared to many places in the world, but we are praying for the day when there will be a real breakthrough,” Penny says. The Taiwanese worship many gods. Because ancestor worship is a family practice, it is probably one of the biggest hurdles for seekers to overcome.
Chi En Church is located in the poorest county in Taiwan, where alcoholism, gambling, and abuse are prevalent. “We have countless friends here [for whom we are praying]. We get excited for each little step they take toward God,” says Penny, who describes many of the church’s contacts as “works in progress.”
“Because of the small congregation and its low socioeconomic status, supporting a pastor isn’t easy,” Penny observes. “But an even bigger challenge is finding a Taiwanese pastor who senses God’s call to come to this ‘forgotten part’ of Taiwan to minister.”
Yet God is moving. At Christmas and at Easter, the Iversons tell Bible stories in their English classes, sharing the origins of these holidays. Last Christmas Eve, more than 60 interested people crowded into the Chi En Church facility, designed to hold about 20.
“Some were even looking in from the street,” says Penny, “and several in attendance indicated a desire to know more about Jesus.”
The Chi En Church stands as a beacon of hope in Yuan Chang Township. As Alliance workers shine the light of Jesus into this spiritually dark region of Taiwan, it is clear that God has not forgotten its people.
What You Can Do
- Pray for the Iversons and their teammates, Chinh and Mary Dang—that seeds sown will bear lasting fruit for the Kingdom.
- Pray for Alliance workers around the world.
- Learn about the Great Commission Fund.
- Make a donation to the GCF and partner with Alliance workers in bringing the good news to people, such as those in Yuan Chang Township, who have yet to embrace the hope that only Jesus offers.