A letter from John McCall serving in Taiwan
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Recently a mission team from the United States visited Taiwan, and I took them to an aboriginal village called Bi Ho in the mountains on Taiwan’s east coast. They led a Vacation Bible School for the village children on Saturday morning in which they led parachute games and also helped the children decorate book bags for school. The aboriginal children are always so open and joined in on the activities with gusto.
The pastor of the Bi Ho Presbyterian Church, Lawa, and her husband, No-mah, are both former students of mine, and I baptized their son three years ago. On Saturday afternoon No-mah and a number of the village youth took us to a river that cascades down the mountain. There are a number of waterfalls and, with the help of these aboriginal young people, we climbed up the river and the many falls. It is a river strewn with big boulders that can be slick. It is a strenuous, but exhilarating, experience.
It was so inspiring to see how these youth worked so beautifully together to get these American guests up the falls. The U.S. team members were of different shapes and weight, and the youth quickly switched places at each waterfall to get each person up the steep and slippery rocks. If one of the Americans said, “No, I’ll wait this one out,” the youth would shout their tribal word of encouragement above the sound of the pounding water.
They offered their knees and shoulders to make a human ladder upon which we climbed. They never complained and always flashed smiles of encouragement as we grabbed for handholds or footholds on the slick rocks. As soon as we were up one fall, one of the youth would scamper up to the next fall to scout out the best route for us. As the other youth were waiting for us, they would wrestle with each other in the water, enjoying God’s beautiful creation as much as we were.
In this world of so many sad divisions, it was amazing to witness the teamwork and the servant hearts of these young Christians. They helped us at each waterfall with a smile, and we knew that we could not get up the steep river without them. Their model of enthusiastic cooperation is exactly what governments, corporations, schools, and churches so desperately need today. We went out for a day in Taiwan’s beautiful wilderness and got a lesson from these youth of how to work together and have such fun while doing it.
Their energy was contagious. Their faith was evident as they were Christ to each of us.
Saturday evening, after the river climb, I preached at a youth service at their church, where all of them were present. I talked about a life that responds to God’s abundant love. And I used them as my example. I told them that earlier that day we had seen through their love, God’s abundant love. It was Christ’s transparent love shining through them.
Sunday morning was the church’s thanksgiving service. The youth stood up in front of the church to sing a beautiful song of praise as one of the anthems. As I thought about the grace they showed us the day before, my heart was full of thanksgiving for Pastor Lawa and her husband, No-mah, and the parents in that congregation who have nurtured these Christ-like youth.
I leaned over to Pastor Lawa and told her that these faithful youth are the fruit of her labor in the Bi Ho congregation. It is not always easy for her to be a pastor in a patriarchal tribe. Her husband, No-mah, just graduated from seminary. They assumed that he would join Lawa as co-pastor of the Bi-Ho Church, but that was not to be. So No-mah has just begun serving as pastor of a much higher mountain church that is a five-hour drive away from Bi Ho Village through winding mountain roads. He will be able to be with his wife and three children for only about two days each week.
Please pray for Lawa and No-mah and so many other pastors of this beautiful land who are serving faithfully in cities and villages like Bi Ho. Pray that God will protect them on dangerous mountain roads and will give them daily vision and energy to nurture youth like the ones who led us up the river. Thank you for your faithful gifts which allow me to nurture pastors like Lawa and No-mah, who then go and nurture so many others as Christ’s disciples.
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 253
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