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Good News in a Bad News World

A Letter from John McCall, serving in Taiwan

May 2018


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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 US and in the church, but I have also seen that people are hungry for good news. The Presbyterian Church (USA) 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.

In addition to visiting many traditional Presbyterian churches, I have been visiting a number of Taiwanese/American churches. I also was the speaker at the National Taiwanese Presbyterian Council Meeting in Atlanta. This group is made up of Taiwanese/American pastors and church elders from churches throughout the US. When I preach in these churches, I preach in Mandarin.

The Taiwanese immigrant community, like many immigrant communities in the US, has its own culture. Many of these immigrants first came to the US decades ago to study and then found jobs here. They have raised their children here and now some of those children have their own children. Their homes look like other American homes from the outside, but as you enter and take off your shoes at the door, you smell the wonderful fragrance of Taiwanese food being prepared. Since I love Taiwanese food, it is a joy to smell and taste these delicious flavors.

I will also be speaking at three Taiwanese/American church retreats. One in July will be held at a college campus in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with a number of churches from the Northeast. I will speak at the Taiwanese part of the retreat, and they will also have an English part. We will meet together a couple of times, and I will use Mandarin and English.

I have known one of these Taiwanese/American pastors for many years. He graduated from Taiwan Theological Seminary a year or two before I began teaching there. He and his wife have two sons. The youngest is a high school senior and will be attending college this fall. This pastor sends out a daily devotional to his church members, and when we were in Atlanta, he shared with me that his son had written a response to one of these devotions to share with the other church members. I was extremely impressed by what he wrote and would like to share a portion of his words with you:

I feel that today’s biblical text relates to me.
Instead of living for God, I am often living
for myself. I pray that I will learn to put
God before all things so that I can become
more like Jesus … For everything I do and
accomplish, I give the glory to God,
because God is the One who gives us
strength every day … I pray that I will gain
the confidence to tell nonbelievers about
God. After all, my relationship with God is
not something to be ashamed of, but rather
something worthy of sharing with others …
I desire to pray and read the Bible more so
that I can grow closer to God and live for
God.

I was moved by this young man’s faith, and told his father that it was inspiring to see his desire to grow into the likeness of Christ. When I returned to North Carolina, I shared this young man’s words with a friend as we were walking around a lake. A woman who was walking behind us stopped and said that she heard me mention faith, and asked if she could listen as I read the words of this young man to my friend. I replied, “Of course.” This stranger listened intently, and after I was done reading, thanked me for the encouragement. She then told us that she had just returned from the doctor, and her doctor had given her a very sobering diagnosis. He basically said to her, “There is no hope.”

But when she heard the words of this Taiwanese/American young man, she was buoyed by his faith. She said to us, “There is hope. There is always hope in Christ.”

There is hope in a world of challenges. We need each other, of different cultures and politics and experiences. That meeting beside that North Carolina lake reminded me of that.

I am grateful to you for your interest and concern for what God is doing around this varied world. I am grateful to Christ for the hope in the darkness. I am grateful that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

Gratefully,

John McCall


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