Posts tagged Taiwan
John McCall - April 2019 Update

Dear friends,

I recently went to the Second Crematorium south of Taipei to participate in the funeral of a wonderful friend and mentor. I met Dr. Samuel Jang, an elder at the East Gate Presbyterian Church in Taipei, twenty-three years ago when we worked together leading an English Bible Study for that congregation. I was studying Mandarin at the time, so it was a gift to me to be able to lead a Bible Study in English.

Dr. Jang was a man who had a contagious joy. He became a Christian in China when he was very young. He went through a lot when China and Japan were at war and then managed to come to Taiwan where he continued his medical studies. He became a dentist. He married a Taiwanese and they had four children who all continue to walk in Christ's way. Dr. Jang always shared his faith with his patients.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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John McCall (PCUSA) - January 2016 Update

Dear friends,

It has been a tremendous week in China. I taught the first week of a course on Spiritual Theology at Jiangsu Seminary with about 90 students. This year's class is quite different from last year's class, since half of the students are regular seminary students and half are at the seminary from a rural area of the northern part of Jiangsu province. The first four days they sat on opposite sides of the large classroom. On one side were the mostly younger seminary students in brighter, more fashionable clothes, several using their cell phones for their Bibles. The rural evangelists, dressed mostly in black or brown coats with faces lined with stories from rural life, sat on the other side.

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John McCall (PCUSA) - September 2015 Update

Dear Friends,

One morning I walked out of the seminary to the road heading down the mountain to the bus stop. As with so many people who take public transport around the world, you never know exactly when a bus will come, so you have to plan extra time. It was already hot and humid, so when I got on the bus, the air conditioning felt good. I took the fifteen minute bus ride to the subway station, where I caught the subway to Taipei main train station.

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John McCall (PCUSA) – May 2015 Update

Dear Friends,

Sunday afternoon, May 17, 2015, I had the privilege of offering words of blessing to one of my former students who was being installed as the senior pastor of one of the larger Taipei churches. It was an interesting service because it included a celebration of the retiring pastor and the installation of the new pastor. The retiring pastor and the new pastor have served together for the past five months as a kind of bridge time.

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John McCall (PCUSA) - October 2014 Update

Dear Friends,

I've been back in Asia for a couple of months, and it's been wonderful to reconnect with friends here and also catch my stride as I serve with the church in this vast continent. Earlier in September I flew to Malaysia, about a five-hour flight, to teach with a long-time Taiwanese friend and colleague. Most Christians in Malaysia are ethnic Chinese, so we can teach in Mandarin. Malaysia is a wonderful culturally-rich country with different people groups: Malay (who are almost all Muslim), ethnic Chinese, ethnic Indian, and the aboriginal Malaysians. 

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John McCall (PCUSA) - November 2013 Update

Dear Friends,

I left the seminary where I live high above the city of Taipei and waited for a bus to take me to the subway station. I was leaving for two days of preaching in an aboriginal presbytery. I took a train to a city in the center of the island where an aboriginal friend/pastor/artist and his wife and son picked me up. I got to know this couple twelve years ago. When I met Pastor Lai and his wife, he told me a dream he had had a few months before.

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