A monthly update from World Mission, a ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency
The Mission Matters column addresses the impact of Presbyterian mission in the world and the issues that affect mission co-workers, the people we walk alongside and assist in service to God, and our partners around the globe.
December 2018 — Good news of great joy for shepherds and cab drivers
Rev. John McCall, Mission Co-worker in Taiwan
Presbyterian World Mission
I was in a cab headed to the high-speed rail station, on my way to preach at a Taiwanese wedding. While the groom is a Christian, he had told me that his parents were not. The vocabulary we use in Taiwan, when preaching to Christians, can often be language that non-Christians don’t understand. As soon I got into the cab, I saw that the cab driver, Mr. Jwang, had a small statue of Buddha on his dashboard. So, I thought to myself, it might be good if Mr. Jwang could listen to my sermon and tell me which parts he did not understand. That way I would be sure that the groom’s family was able to understand.
So, I explained to Mr. Jwang and asked if he would he be willing to listen to my sermon and tell me if there were parts he did not understand. Over the years the Taiwanese people have helped me in many ways, and most of the time they are very obliging. Mr. Jwang replied, “Sure.” Driving all day could get boring, I thought, so perhaps hearing an American use Mandarin to preach a sermon might actually be interesting.
In the half-hour cab ride, I shared my wedding sermon with Mr. Jwang, and he patiently listened. He stopped me when I said something that he didn’t understand. When we got to the train station, I thanked him for his willingness to help. And he replied in polite Taiwanese fashion, “Your sermon really moved me!”
As we said goodbye, I wondered if my wedding sermon had indeed touched Mr. Jwang’s heart or if he was just being polite. Then my attention turned to other cab drivers waiting for fares, playing mahjong, a kind of Taiwanese checkers, while they wait. It occurred to me that on that first Christmas, the angels came to unlikely folks tending their sheep. Shepherds were people without status, with a lot of time on their hands. If Christ was born in Taiwan this year, the angels might just appear in front of the high-speed rail station to these waiting cab drivers. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors.”
Originally the groom’s father didn’t want to attend his son’s wedding in a Christian church. But because he loves his son, he finally was willing to attend. I noticed that when his son said words of thanks and blessing to his parents as part of the wedding service, that his father got very emotional.
This Christmas I give thanks for the privilege of living in this land of Taiwan. Each day I am blessed by folks like Mr. Jwang and the groom’s father. And I know that the good news that came on that Christmas morning, in the form of Jesus, is also meant for the people like them. Good news of great joy to all people. May that good news fill your days and your lives as Jesus moves into our neighborhoods.