What a privilege recently to be invited to speak at the OMF workers’ conference in Taiwan and then go on to China. OMF has some 70 workers in Taiwan and it was great to meet up again with various old friends and ex-All Nations graduates. Some are doing significant work among university and High School students, while others are working among disadvantaged people – prostitutes, shop and factory workers and the poor. Taiwan generally is immensely prosperous and modern with burgeoning cities. The church had a few years where it became static without growth, but in the last few years has started growing again quite significantly.
China of course is immense and anything we say about one part may be untrue elsewhere. We had the joy of returning to Linfen where Elizabeth was born. When we visited there nearly twenty years ago, it was a relatively small rural town. Now its population has reached 770,000. The official open church too has multiplied with a new building which holds some 1200 people and has several Services every Sunday to cater for the crowds. We also went to a few other cities, including Lanzhou where Elizabeth’s father was the superintendent of the mission hospital and where her mother died and is buried. Lanzhou is now a huge city of three million people and is building a new city near its airport – and that will begin with two million people! They also have a new church (pictures attached) with some six thousand adults every weekend and about 65 satellite churches around the city with 100-500 each on a Sunday. At their last baptism service, they welcomed some 500 new Christians. It was an enormous privilege to be most warmly welcomed in each place, entertained to delicious Chinese meals and given opportunities to share some biblical teaching. The Chinese churches are searching for a less western view of the Bible, theology, worship and church life. My more Jewish approach fits the Chinese cultural background and they were hungry for such Bible teaching.