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Pentecost

A Letter from Jonathan and Emily Seitz, serving in Taiwan

May 2020

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“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Dear Friends,

Part of the introductory seminary courses I offer includes student reports. Seminarians share about the experiences that attracted them to their calls and the dreams they have for their ministry. I’m always amazed by the snapshots they give of Christian life in Taiwan:

• A 2nd career student shares about her 25 years working as a counselor in a Presbyterian middle school
• An Atayal (minority student) talks about his work with camps and summer youth mission
• A first-generation Christian talks about revivals led by a famous Chinese Indonesian pastor who has influenced him
• A student interested in tent-making style ministries shares about a Christian coffee shop near a university that she admires
• An older student talks about his friend, who has done mission work in Southeast Asia for ten years but often struggles to relate to local partners
• A student who had worked in two hospitals (one Christian, one government) shares how it was part of her call to ministry, developed her interest in chaplaincy and worked with the church’s senior population
• Several students share about “community ministry,” a mode of volunteer outreach in Taiwan that often includes safe spaces where students can do homework, senior universities, community choirs, and other efforts.

Part of what impresses me about this witness is the way it testifies to the individual’s call and their relationship to the community. “Mission” is famously hard to define, but many people can clearly identify a word or a sign by which God has given their life direction. They feel the Spirit’s presence through this call.

In my own seminary days, I came to know, in passing, the famous retired Korea missionary, Samuel Hugh Moffett, then in his nineties. Professor Moffett would still exercise in the school gym (very slowly and wearing a white shirt and tie), and he was well-known on campus, often greeting those he encountered. He would sometimes greet students with the words “Power to you!” I don’t know when or how he adopted this saying, but it resonated with me, with its overtones of Jesus’ words at the beginning of Acts to “receive power” from the Spirit.

These days, a virus has spread to the ends of the earth, and it can feel like there’s a constant hum of anxiety. People feel powerless—we no longer have control over so many areas of our life. Can we also trust that the Spirit is with us in these times? The Holy Spirit is often said to be the forgotten, ignored or neglected member of the Trinity, but right now, perhaps we’ll feel the Spirit’s presence more strongly.

We remain grateful for PC(USA) World Mission’s continuing presence around the world. In a recent interview, our interim director, Sara Lisherness, talked about the tough decision many mission co-workers faced on whether to return to the U.S. in this interim period or whether to remain in our host country. In Taiwan, we have been especially grateful in these times for the ways the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan has cared for friends who recharge us and encourage us and pray for us. The picture for this newsletter is with our family friend, Dr. Yakhwee Tan, who teaches at our sister seminary in Tainan we visited back in February. We’re grateful for the ways that the Spirit connects us and sustains us.

Holy Spirit, at Pentecost, we are grateful to be part of your witness in the world. We thank you for your people in every place, especially for those who have supported and encouraged us through ups and downs. Distances seem especially far, but still, the Spirit draws us close. May we all continue to witness to your power and presence in the world today. Amen.

God’s Blessings, Jonathan


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