Posts in Asia
John McCall - January 2019 Update

Dear friends,

Several months ago, a friend who is one of the program secretaries at the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan national office asked me if I would be willing to visit his daughter's elementary school before Christmas to share the Christmas story with the students there. Even though only four percent of Taiwanese are Christian, it is a very tolerant culture here toward all religions. So, I was not surprised that the school was willing to have me come.

This pastor and his wife, who is also a pastor, have four children, which is double the norm for families in Taiwan. Their eldest is a first grader at this school and the youngest is just a year old.

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Pakistan Update

In September I was privileged to travel to Pakistan with Rev. Richard Paddon, a retired pastor and member of my presbytery. Our host was the Rev. Dr. Majid Abel, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and pastor of the Naukala Church whose guest quarters we occupied.

I remember, years ago, watching with amazement a 16mm film that told the story of how Dr. Norval Christy, a Presbyterian medical missionary at the historic Taxila Christian Hospital, pioneered a new surgical procedure for removing cataracts. Imagine being a missionary, or a pastor, or simply a follower of Jesus in a country of 212 million people where 2% are Christian.

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John McCall - September 2018 Update

Dear friends,

I got off the train after a four-hour ride along the Pacific Ocean and was met by a pastor from the Bunun Presbytery, an aboriginal presbytery on Taiwan’s east coast. I was on my way to lead the fourth pastors’ retreat in three weeks. We arranged these retreats a year ago, and it has been my joy, since returning to Taiwan, to meet so many of my former students and other pastors who are serving churches throughout Taiwan.

The Bunun tribal pastor (Bunun means “person” and is the name of one of the sixteen tribes among Taiwan’s indigenous people) greeted me and drove to a nearby restaurant where we met four other pastors for lunch. We then left the small town of Yu Li and went up steep mountain roads to the farming hut of one of the church elders.

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John McCall - Update

Dear friends,

I am seeing a lot of the United States in the first half of 2018. I am traveling to fifteen states and twenty-seven churches to share the good news of what the Holy Spirit is doing in Taiwan. It has been wonderful to see many of you, and I regret that I have been unable to visit all of you. Last spring in one of my mission letters, I said that I would be coming to the U.S. on interpretation assignment this year, and my schedule filled up quickly.

I have seen some discouragement in the U.S. and in the church, but I have also seen that people are hungry for good news. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other churches have a rare opportunity in a world of opioid addiction, global tensions, and overall fear of the future to share the abundant life that Christ offers to each person on this globe. It has been a joy to see folks here connect with Christians in Asia as they hear how God is changing lives and changing communities.

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Continuing Education for Chinese Church Leaders - April 2018 Update

Walking with Chinese Pastors
“The average pastor in our province has a congregation of 6,500 members.” With those words Rev. Keyun Zhang, chairman of the Provincial Committee of TSPM and president of the Theological Seminary, explained why the development of Chinese pastors is so important for the ongoing health of the growing congregations in the Jiangsu Province.

During the week that he spent in the United States last fall, Rev. Zhang led a delegation of eight high ranking leaders in visits sponsored by The Outreach Foundation to University Place Presbyterian Church (Tacoma, WA) and First Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, NC). He used the opportunity to share how even with such significantly high pastor to member ratios, the church in China is committed to improving the quality of its spiritual life and its ministries in their communities. “We have nine times as many congregations in the Jiangsu Province as we had in 1950,” he stated. “We have gone from 540 to 4,639 churches.”

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John McCall - January 2018 Update

Dear friends, 

I began the first day of 2018 in Nanjing, China. Once again this year I am teaching a two-week intensive course at Jiangsu Seminary here. This weekend I preached on both Saturday and Sunday at two rural churches north of Nanjing.

Since I have been teaching here for a number of years, many of my former students are now serving churches throughout this big province. This year I was fortunate to visit a district where some of my former students are serving. They were delighted to be together on Saturday and Sunday. One couple drove two and a-half hours from their church to be with us. It was joyful reunion to hear their stories of both deep joy and the challenges they are facing. We worshiped together, we prayed together, we laughed and cried together. I was moved by their stories of seeking to be Christ's salt and light in the dramatic change of today's China.

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Developing South-South Mission Partnerships - January 2018 Update

One of the frequent features of Christianity in Africa, Asia and Latin America is enthusiasm for mission and evangelism. Through our “Developing South-South Mission Partnerships” project, The Outreach Foundation seeks to come alongside efforts that our partners are undertaking to bridge cultural differences with the purpose of sharing the Gospel in areas where there is less access to it.

Last July I visited with a Brazilian family dedicated to demonstrating the love of Christ in word and deed in a North African country. Having arrived in the country 16 years ago after 13 years of fruitful ministry in Jordan and Morocco, their mastery of the language and culture is exceptional. They are currently working in coordination with the small Christian community there to follow up with the growing number of people that have expressed an interest in learning more about the Christian message. They are also mentoring other missionaries arriving from Brazil, Guatemala and other countries.

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John McCall - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

I recently took the bullet train for a short half-hour ride from Taipei to a new city near the Taiwan Science Park. This area is Taiwan's Silicon Valley. Most of Taiwan's cutting-edge, high tech industry is located in this area. What used to be all rice fields is now many upscale, high-rise condominiums. While Taiwan's birthrate is dropping, this area has the highest birthrate in all of Taiwan. Many of the young engineers and software folks who work and live in this area are having children.

Thirteen years ago, the Presbyterian Church decided to start a new church development in this neighborhood. The founding pastor is a man who is full of joy and shares life with his church members. When I had dinner with the pastor and several of the members, one of the member's six-year-old son loved to sit with the pastor. This church is full of first-generation Christians who have come to know Christ's love through this congregation.

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Resources for Lay Leaders in China - September 2017 Update

The backbone of the rapidly growing Church in China is its lay leaders. They want continual training in how to bring the millions of new believers into mature Christian faith. Your gifts will enhance their efforts by supplying discipleship training materials and other publications for lay leaders. This year, we have collaborated in the distribution of close to 4,000 sets of materials and many other digital books. The following stories convey the impact that the work of our partners is having with 42 schools and training centers located in 29 of China’s 34 administrative units. 

Qian
Qian serves in an established church located in an urban area of China. The expectations that the senior pastor has for her are high as she was trained in one of the nation’s top seminaries. Qian was tasked with providing a leadership role in the church and building up the next generation. She feels that the leadership and discipleship resource materials will be key as she works to instruct servant-leaders. Please keep Qian in your prayers that God may lead her to face those immense pastoral challenges.

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John McCall - August 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Occasionally in life, we are able to experience a slice of heaven here on earth. I recently saw God’s Kingdom in technicolor.

For the seventh time, we took a group of 28 Taiwanese male and female university students, seminary students, and young pastors to a Christian community called Taize in the rolling hills of rural France. Many of you know Taize from singing Taize prayer songs. But Taize is so much more than a style of singing.

Last week, there were 2,300 young people from all over the world who came to Taize by bus, by train, and by bicycle. As we waited to join the orientation on that first Sunday, we met a large group of Indonesian youth who had traveled farther than us to get to Taize. Our group sang a song to them in Mandarin that says, “In Jesus Christ we are one family.” The Indonesians then borrowed a guitar from one of our students and sang the same song in Indonesian. During the week, we enjoyed learning some Indonesian from our new friends and also heard from them something of what it is to be Christian in that largely Muslim land.

That first night, I also met a very tall young man from Lithuania who plays on the national basketball team for his country. He told me that he loves music. I mentioned to him that we have a young Taiwanese man whose voice sounds like an angel.

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Compassion Ministries - August 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Traveling in the name of the Kinsler Foundation, I brought Rev. Ed Kang, Rev. Dayoung Kimn, Elder Kenneth Park and his wife, Rev. Julie Park, to North Korea in May. The purpose of this visit was to introduce Rev. Dayoung Kimn, who will be working with me in the future. Rev. Kang and the Parks traveled to visit the handicapped work and to meet relatives. 

NEW TRANSPORTATION
Arrangements were made during my March visit for the purchase of a 15-passenger-van. The vehicle had enough room for the group and our luggage as we traveled to the Haebangsan Hotel. On the way, our guide gave details of our travel schedule including information about family reunions and a visit to the Wonsan Deaf School. 

Pyongyang’s streets and buildings looked cleaner and more orderly than previously. We saw green trees and flowers. There were more cars and taxis and it seemed as though there might even be traffic jams now! The group had a three-day visit scheduled to see the Chosen Jangae Hweibokwon (school for physically and mentally disabled young children), the Korea Federation for the Protection of the Disabled (KFPD) Cultural Center, the Dongdaewon Disabled Persons Fitness Center building, and the KFPD sponsored nationwide table tennis competition for the disabled at Kim Il Sung University.

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Pakistan Update - July 2017

In May Rob Weingartner, Executive Director, and Harris Cummings, a member at Western Hills Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, traveled to visit with partners in Pakistan. We left encouraged by their faithful service in Christ’s name in a very challenging and complex context.

At the Pakistan Christian Recording Ministries and Pakistan Bible Correspondence School in Faisalabad, we were warmly greeted by PCRM director Zahoor-Ul-Haq, PBCS executive secretary Rufan Rawar William, and their staffs. 

Each of these ministries’ main focus is on reaching the majority Muslim population, but as they do their work they are also strengthening the faith and discipleship of many who are Christians. Pakistan is the third largest Muslim country in the world after Indonesia and Bangladesh. Its total population is about 180 million of whom 96% are Muslims, 2% are Christians and 2% are other minority groups.

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John McCall - February 2017 Update

Dear friends,

This past weekend was a four-day holiday in Taiwan to commemorate the February 28th memorial when thousands of people were slaughtered by incoming forces from China in 1947. Many of the Taiwanese leaders were taken away at night and jailed or killed. For years this was a taboo subject, but as democracy flourished here it became a part of the history of this land.

Last year we took a group of pastors to Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina (see September 2016 update). We planned to have a retreat here in Taiwan for these pastors six months after our return, to check in with each other and to see how this experience shaped them and is still shaping them. We had pastors from every corner of Taiwan join in this experience, so Sunday afternoon they drove down from the high mountains, or took a several hour train ride from south, east, north, and west.  

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Church in Korea: Repaying a Missionary Debt

Monday, October 3 two young pastors and I left for South Korea to begin the 2016 Emerging Leaders Vision Trip. Arriving in the evening one day later, we joined up with eighteen people who had been invited by the Rev. James Kwon, Moderator of the Northwest Coast Presbytery of the PC(USA). The Rev. Kwon had wanted to give people of the presbytery an opportunity to see the Church of Korea which is a fruit of the sacrificial labor of missionaries, many of whom were Presbyterian. Because the aims of our trips were so close, our two groups became one for a ten-day experience of the rich faith and mission outreach of the Church in Korea. 

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John McCall (PCUSA) - September 2016 Update

It can be depressing to hear the daily news from around the world. So much division among people groups, among political parties and their supporters, even among church folks. So, I have been convicted by the Apostle Paul’s challenge to the church at Corinth and to us, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).  

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Compassion Ministries - August 2016 Update

Sue Kinsler and two pastors, Canadian Korean Rev. Song-Keun Kook and Korean American Rev. Choon Lim, visited North Korea on a GreenTree International (GTI) trip in May. What was the purpose of the visit? Not only was it important to confer about the Disabled North Korean Athletes’ Team plans to attend the Brazil Paralympics in late August, but each pastor had ideas about new ways to help North Korea’s disabled people. 

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John McCall (PCUSA) - July 2016 Update

Dear friends,

I had been asked to be the speaker at a conference for aboriginal youth. Earlier in the week they said on the news that a tropical storm had formed in the Pacific southeast of Taiwan. They weren't predicting that it would amount to anything, so I didn't give it too much thought. But the day before I was to leave for the east coast, they were predicting that it might seriously intensify and was headed to Taiwan. After weathering through so many typhoons over the years, I know that typhoons have a mind of their own and things can change dramatically. I called the pastor in charge of the conference to ask her what she thought (I was secretly hoping they would reschedule the conference.). She replied "We're going ahead. Just pray!"

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John McCall (PCUSA) - March 2016 Update

Dear friends, 

It's a beautiful Sunday evening here with cool breezes. This is Taipei's weather at its best. This week has been extremely rich with a variety of experiences:

Monday was a national holiday commemorating the February 28, 1947 incident when an anti-government uprising was violently suppressed by the KMT-led Republic of China government. Thousands of civilians were killed, perhaps as many as 30,000. 

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