Use it for your glory God. This is just the beginning.
Revelation 21:5 Then the one who sits on the throne said, “And now I make all things new!”
An Unofficial Missionary
Following Jesus to Taiwan
Addendum About Taiwan
Introduction Why I'm Not Qualified
Chapter 1 The Great Commission
Chapter 2 My Journey
Chapter 3 Incarnation
Chapter 4 Remembering Your Roots
Chapter 5 Identity
Chapter 6 Let It Burn
Chapter 7 Culture
Chapter 8 Power
Chapter 9 This Changes Everything
Chapter 10 Mustard Seed
Chapter 11 One Church
Chapter 12 Tongues, Sabbath, and Prophecy
Epilogue Taiwan’s Challenges
Addendum: About Taiwan
Taiwan is a crowded semi-tropical island country you can drive across in about four hours. There are several dozen different aboriginal tribes that occupied the island before Chinese people settled here. Therefore, there is a mix of aboriginal and various Chinese dialects and languages. If you ride the MRT, you will hear four different languages translated for you: Chinese, Taiwanese, Hakka, and English. Taiwan used to be a land of hunters and gatherers, then moved into farmlands, and now is a mix of rural and urban centers with huge skyscrapers, the pinnacle being Taipei 101.
The island was called Formosa, or beautiful island, by the Spanish because of the amazing sights and rarities. The island is famous for its lush green mountains and various lakes and hot springs. There is a large diversity in wild life as well as plenty of cockroaches. The food is uniquely Taiwanese with lots of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and western influence. The people are just as diverse, coming from all sectors of society with all different kinds of beliefs and traditions. Mostly, people worship their ancestors, honoring and paying respect to them.
For the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are many challenges and lots of hope. I wrote this book as a handbook for Taiwan missions in order to add to the dialogue of missionaries who have been here much longer than I have. I'm new here, but want to share what I learned so far as I await more and more glorious treasures from our heavenly Father. Amen.
Introduction: Why I'm Not Qualified
I'm not qualified to be a missionary. I don't have the credentials. That's what I mean. I know because I've looked into them. I tried to join various mission groups and they all have a set of specific requirements for going abroad through their organization. You have to have a Bible degree, a certain amount of years in the organization, and lots of supporters. That means you need lots of money because it costs a lot to support a missionary, especially a western one.
All of these requirements are helpful, but I didn't believe them necessary. I didn't have the money and I couldn't afford the time to wait another six to ten years in order to prepare myself for the field. I had a message in my mouth and I was ready to transmit it abroad. I heard all the warnings. I knew I needed a support system, a good foundation of truth, finances, and a team to go with. I wanted all of those too, but they weren't there.
I'm unqualified because I don't have a support system back home keeping tabs on me. I'm unqualified because I don't have a strong Christian upbringing where I learned the Bible front and back. I'm unqualified because I spent every dollar I had just to get here. I'm unqualified because I work alone. Because of this, I've fallen many times. I've been severely depressed, lost, and unsure about anything that's real or false. I haven't started a church or Bible study or baptized anyone. And yet, I'm here and I was sent. Imagine that.
During the time recorded in the book of Acts, sending missionaries looked very different. There were no Bible schools or mission organizations or degrees or individual supporters. People were chosen by God and sent out by the church for continual advancement and ministry of the Word of God. Peter was one of those missionaries – an apostle, sent by Jesus Himself to feed and care for the sheep (John 21:15-17). Jesus was his Bible school and God was his qualifier.
Therefore, the church supported him wherever he went. We're not sure exactly how this happened or how much he received, but he clearly had a place to stay wherever he went and broke bread with the church (Acts 10:5-6; Acts 10:48; Acts 11:3). The missionary Paul is particularly unique because he didn't even accept financial support at times so that he wouldn't be a hindrance to the people he was serving, choosing instead to support himself (1 Corinthians 9:11-12).
Things seemed a lot simpler at that time, but let's not jump to conclusions. Of course it was a lot more complex than we read in the scriptures. We simply don't have enough details about how missionaries were sent, but we can learn from these examples nonetheless. I believe the church recognized strong leaders in their midst and willingly supported them. I believe these leaders were qualified by signs and wonders they performed among the people. And I believe that some were unqualified by today's terms and still sent to produce a great amount of fruit. Apollos was an example of this (Acts 18:24-19:3).
In Acts 18, it says Apollos was instructed in the way of the Lord and taught accurately, though he only knew about the baptism of John. When Paul passed through the region Apollos had ministered in, he asked the people if they received the Holy Spirit. They said they hadn't even heard there was a Holy Spirit. They were only baptized into John's baptism. This shows how important it is to have a full understanding of spiritual things, but doesn't dismiss the work Apollos had done there. He taught accurately and boldly proclaimed the truth of the way of the Lord.
We can't do this alone. We need the church around us to deliver the fullness of the Gospel to the people around us. I just don't believe it's necessary for that church to live in your home country. If you are sent, then go. If God has chosen you to speak, then become that voice. Even if you don't have the fullness of the message or the support or the degree, you can go and speak the way of the Lord accurately and boldly.
Organizations make it hard to progress and advance. The church should make it easy. Send out the called. Support them. Pray for them. And instruct them into the fullness of the Gospel message. If you don't have that support, just go. Perhaps those supporters are living abroad in the place you've been sent to. Perhaps you need to take a step of faith and do something that will cost you. Just go, with whatever you've been given. Become an unofficial missionary.
Chapter 1: The Great Commission
I'm an unofficial missionary because I was moved by the Holy Spirit and Jesus' call to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). In the Gospel of John, this commissioning is recorded. John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive people's sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
This is really amazing and also a little confusing. What I mean is you can't just understand it with the first reading. You have to think about it, consider it, and weigh it with the whole of scripture. First, Jesus was sent. Of course he was sent into the world, but I think there is a more specific meaning here. I believe Jesus was referring to when He was sent on His mission. The Bible says He began His ministry at about thirty years of age (Luke 3:23). He was baptized by John in the Jordan and then was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).
It appears to give a very direct reason why Jesus went into the wilderness. It says he went to be tempted. It seems it was a test, like Abraham who was asked to offer up his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2). This is in contrast to the Lord’s prayer. Mathew 6:13 ‘Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.’ We don’t ask for testing, but often we find we’re already in it. There’s a difference between Jesus’ temptation and ours. Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted while we are not. For whatever reason we find ourselves in testing, though, the principle remains the same. James 4:7 Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you.
You may or may not see temptation as the start of Jesus’ ministry, but it was a necessary precursor to the Gospel being preached. This is how Jesus was sent. He was baptized, sent to be tempted, and then started preaching the Good News.
Jesus was sent (John 3:34). His qualification came from the Father (Luke 3:21-22). He was ordained and filled by the Spirit (John 1:33; Luke 4:1). He rejected every lie from the tempter with the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11). He knew the scriptures very well. Like Jesus, Apollos was also well-versed in the scriptures.
This is essential. Without the truth to stand on, we will crumble under sand when the first storm hits (Matthew 7:24-27). Even if we know scripture well, we may take some devastating hits. Don't give up, though. John 16:33 “The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I [Jesus] have defeated the world!”
John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.”
As Jesus was sent by the Father, the disciples were sent by Jesus (John 20:21). Our Lord was crucified to forgive and remove our sins and he raised to lifeon the third day (Ephesians 1:7, 1 Corinthians 15:4). During the forty days after he resurrected, he gave His disciples the great commision (Acts 1:3, Matthew 28:19-20). There was a period of ten days between Jesus' ascension into heaven and the receiving of the Holy Spirit (Leviticus 23:15-16). Jesus ascended forty days after Passover and Pentecost is fifty days after Passover if you want to do the math.
Then there was a period of waiting. Luke 24:49 “And I [Jesus] myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait in the city until the power from above comes down upon you.”
Acts 1:4 And when they [the disciples] came together, he [Jesus] gave them this order: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised.”
During this time, Luke's Gospel says they were continually in the temple praising and blessing God (Luke 24:52-53). When the Spirit came on Pentecost, the disciples were baptized with power and authority (Acts 1:8). It was so visible that there was immediate pushback from the people surrounding them, but Peter counteracted it with scripture (Acts 2:13-36).
This pattern is repeated throughout Acts. They understand their identity because they were baptized with the Spirit, which is the stamp of ownership proclaiming you belong to God (Ephesians 1:13-14), then they live it out and encounter persecution at the hands of men, and finally they boldly proclaim the truth of God, which brings more persecution and more opportunity to share the Gospel. This is the foundation for missions; being sent to proclaim the Good News.
Keys of the Kingdom
So we do what Jesus did. We preach the Gospel, telling all to repent and believe the Good News that they are forgiven in Christ (Acts 3:19). Then it says whom we forgive, they will be forgiven, and the sins we retain, will be retained (John 21:23). Matthew records the same principle when the keys of the kingdom of heaven will be given to the disciples (Matthew 16:19). I believe it's in the great commission that they are given and the transference occurs with Jesus' breath.
It's all about the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the word of God and His breath is the Holy Spirit (John 1:1-2; John 20:22). God is one and in Him there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17). When we receive the Holy Spirit, we can forgive sins. It's a prophetic declaration over others that their sins are forgiven in Jesus and they too can receive the Holy Spirit and further spread the Gospel into the world.
On the contrary, we can retain the sins of others, too. This is another work of the Holy Spirit. Not everyone will respond and we cannot give them false prophesies. We have to teach them the commands of our Lord and expect they will respond. To tell them they are forgiven or perfectly fine forgoes the power to retain sins and inform them of their current state. We all need to repent and change. When we believe that we are perfect or good, even though we sin, we are in a dangerous situation (1 John 1:8). Retaining these sins allows the person to see themselves for who they are, and respond to the Gospel message. The hope is for each person to be forgiven and become a bearer of the Gospel message to the world.
This is the great commission. We must tell people that the Word of God is stronger than the enemy and they can repent and trust in God and His son Jesus Christ to be saved. Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross paid for our sins and his resurrection from death gave us new life (Romans 6:5-11). We are new creations, seated at the right hand of God and filled with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit is the breath within us, giving us authority to preach the message and make disciples of all nations.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach his message [the Gospel]: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near!”
Chapter 2: My Journey
I was so moved when I became a believer that I wanted to share this truth with others. I felt lots of people have no idea about this reality and are really hurting and lost, but I didn't exactly find the world was like this. The first time I felt called to Taiwan was in 2007 researching various countries with a very small Christian population. Taiwan stuck out to me and since they speak Chinese, I decided to start my language learning early. I took two and a half years of Chinese along with my major of Anthropology. I also served in an international student ministry. Life was easy. I loved to make friends with students and share the Bible with them.
My original plan to go to Taiwan was temporarily lost when my life was changed the summer prior on my unexpected trip to China. It was amazing and I was sure it was a great fit for me. I prayed that I would be able to affect one person there, and I did just that. I met a boy named Mike and got to answer Bible questions and encourage him and his family. I was sure I would go back after I graduated. I even told them so. But it never happened.
When I graduated from university, life got real. On graduation day, I suffered from some sort of illness which prevented me from going abroad. This sudden illness kept me home and I did missions there instead. I met great missionaries named Anna and Pastor William. They took me under their wings and we evangelized around the university area together. It was an interesting time and I got to practically practice what a missionary does. After about six months, I felt better and was praying about my next step. Go abroad or study for my master's degree. I flipped a coin and I went for the master's degree. And then I was off to Tampa, Florida.
I learned a lot, but only finished one year before feeling it wasn't right. I was involved with a student organization there and decided to pursue that full time serving international students again. It was hard to start something new there, but people came. I didn't have a full knowledge of the Holy Spirit, though, much like Apollos, and I feel it hindered the continual growth of the students. I really love the city because the people I met and church I became a part of there are so different. I grew a lot, but there was still a sticky pride clinging to me. I met some Taiwanese students there as well and it rekindled my desire to go to Taiwan.
I said I would go abroad in five or six years. Turns out, it only took a few months. I quickly found a teaching job and that was it. I was ready to go abroad. Landing in Taiwan was exciting, but also a little uneasy. I wasn't sure what was about to happen and it didn't feel extremely different than other places I visited prior. Slowly, I became more and more excited and I learned a lot about children and teaching. In fact, it was these kids that helped get me through one of the hardest times in my life by giving me a totally new perspective on life. The first three months in Taiwan were the honeymoon stage. The next six after that were a nightmare.
Everything is different abroad, but Taiwan is especially strange compared with the States. There's not a lot of widespread crime or violence here and people seem to actually respect each other. All this benevolence was happening without the Gospel penetrating into every corner of society. It drove me mad because I was expecting to serve and train and teach in hard areas, but things were just a breeze. I got intensely depressed and didn't know what to do. It didn't help that I made friends with all Taiwanese people and nothing from my surroundings was familiar anymore. It was the Holy Spirit who lifted me up and put me back on the right path again.
There was a conference I went to and the speaker was praying for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I knew something was different from just walking in the room. The first night, I was just shocked. People were crying out, screaming, praying, and falling all around me. I was supposed to volunteer to help out, but I didn't know what I was supposed to do.
It was on the second night that the speaker prayed for me and I just let things happen how they would happen. I was sitting on the floor and just praying when the pastor came up and laid hands on me and prayed. As soon as she left, the Holy Spirit came upon me and I was instantly speaking in tongues. It was amazing! I was utterly free (more about this in Chapter 12).
The depression knocked out the spiritual and physical pride within me and the Holy Spirit put a new hope in its place. I was confused still, but I was walking again. I slowly met more people and made more connections and I'm still growing and learning. There's so much that needs to be done. People need to be told the truth of Jesus and people need to be discipled. Children need to be brought up in Christian values and revivals need to break-out. We need more missionaries. Send more into the field, Lord. We need more.
Chapter 3: Incarnation
I went to the eye doctor because my eyes felt sore and tired all the time and he prescribed me artificial tears. I thought this was fascinating because much of my time in Taiwan can be remembered in tears. It was during the lowest parts of my depression that I was crying almost daily. It was the only way I had to cope with the stress. I couldn't turn to anything else and so I just cried. I cried a lot. I felt like I was just crying the pride out of me I was so broken and fearful. It's not how you expect your new life in a new country to start.
When the doctor prescribed me those artificial tears, I knew something wasn't right with them. They weren't the right consistency. They weren't salty, and they didn't alleviate my heartaches. I knew I was getting a poor substitute for the real thing because I became all too familiar with tears. Each one that fell from my eyes brought unity with the people I was surrounded with. I learned the language, the customs, the slang, the habits, and the nuances of the people around me. I learned the real thing. There's no substitution for incarnating within the actual people group you're called to. And it will change you more than you realize.
You have dreams of trying to change the people you're called to by breathing the Holy Spirit on them. You hope to see them forgiven and made new. What you won't expect, is how much incarnation changes you. Every familiar cultural manifestation of the Gospel you’re used to gets lost and you find yourself searching for that same truth again in a different context. It's rediscovering the truth of the Gospel that brings you in tune with the right medium to voice the truth about the way of the Lord. In Taiwan, it looks different than anywhere else in the world. That's the beauty of creation. There's always more to explore.
The language is the first and hardest part to learn. Having only Taiwanese friends and some background in the language enabled me to excel and become conversational within a year. It also amplified the negative effects of culture shock because you have no contact with familiarity. For the first few months, everything is new and nothing is understood. You feel you will never pick up the language and you'll never understand others. But you keep learning words and phrases and mimic others until you realize how much you've progressed. It's possible, even in a year's time, to be conversational in a language so different than your own. Suddenly, you can talk to the people around you and then you learn even more.
It's natural to pick up their gestures and habits and to be asked curious questions. People want to know why you chose to go to their country and how you learned the language. If you want to be honest, you must tell them your testimony and the truth of the Gospel. You see how people react. Read their faces and body language. Remember their answers and objections. Learn. Incarnate. Then you will be familiar with how to talk with people and how to share the Gospel without being lost in translation. It's through incarnating that you receive the tools to minister among a different culture.
Even as you challenge them to see things from your way, they will do the same to you. You will be forced to understand them and you will discover a new way to think about life. Taiwanese society is in harmony and that harmony must be kept at all times. There's a role to fulfill for each member, which changes over time. Elderly are honored and children are brought up to be successful and continue the legacy of the family. It all works together as an intricate system. As you find yourself more and more familiar with their culture, you have to be sure of the way of the Lord. You must keep yourself rooted and firm into the truth of the Word of God.
The key to finding this balance is staying grounded in the church. Everything has to go back to your community. You are not alone and should not incarnate alone. Your community will constantly remind you about the way of the Lord and bring your mind and heart back into focus. You will find that balance by not living a double life, but instead by merging every aspect of your life into one. You must praise the Lord when something good happens when you're around Christians or non-Christians. You have to pray for your friends whether they believe or not. You need to tell testimonies and Bible stories and let them influence and transform your surroundings. This is what it means to incarnate. This is what it means to be sent. This is what it means to be like Jesus. Now go, obey the great commission, but don't forget who you are in the process.
Chapter 4: Remembering Your Roots
Remembering your roots is about remembering your training. I remember hearing a story about a man who had limited access to scripture. Some people would pass out portions of scriptures and this man would meditate on the few verses he had. He felt he didn't need the whole of scripture all at once because he had yet to apply the few verses he received. More training is good, but we can't get to the place where we say we've heard it before and don't think we need to grow more in that area.
The truth is once we say we are strong or healthy in that area, we create blind spots in our mind to the ways we haven't overcome in those areas or we don't believe we can grow further than where we already are. Later, when failure or sin comes, we can remember previous training and realize we didn't fully apply it, or at least in the moments we really needed to apply it, we didn't. The Word of God is living and active, and when others train us, teach us, or preach, they should be embodying that Word for us so we can receive, be transformed, and be charged up for mission (Hebrews 4:12).
For me, remembering my roots is divided in two parts. One is remembering where I came from and honoring my own culture. Successfully crossing over to a new culture takes a rewiring in the deepest part of your being. Many people settle for simply living in a new culture and never believe they could actually like what the local people like or act like they do. When you can successfully make that transition (it takes a deep sacrifice and it's psychologically devastating), it's important that you also remember your roots.
You are not meant to be fully a part of that culture. You also have your own people and your burden for them doesn't leave you. You can fit into both places without judging either as crazy or foolish. The way to find that certainty in yourself is to remember we are strangers here and our real culture is a heavenly one where the strong are weak and the weak are strong (1 Peter 2:11; 2 Corinthians 12:10). It's important that our main identity is found in our heavenly culture and from there we can fit ourselves into subcultures for the sake of enjoying all of God's creation and ministering to the lost in those areas (more about this in Chapter 7).
Strength in Weakness
The second part of remembering my roots is continuing to pray, fast and repent for break-through in the areas I know I'm weak. A lot of times, the only way we will know we are weak in an area is when we have head to head competition with someone better than ourselves. If you play basketball against elementary students who never learned how to shoot a basketball, you may come to believe you're pretty good at basketball.
I get this at the park near my house. I often bring a soccer ball down there and start juggling on my own. Since soccer isn't that popular here, kids think I play for a World Cup team and are amazed at what I can do. I feel my ego grow and really start to believe I'm better than I actually am. In reality, if I play with a group of professional soccer players, I wouldn't even be able to touch the ball. I'm not that great, but I won't realize it until I face those professionals head to head.
This is what happens when we come face to face with God. We realize how unholy we are when we are in the presence of pure holiness. We see clearly our sins and know our need for a savior and repent. Another way we become aware of our sins is when those more mature than us point it out to us. When this happens, it's up to us how much we believe of what they say, and how much we respond to it and believe we can really be changed.
This is called conviction. It's the first step in repentance, but sometimes it's also our last step when we don't have the faith to push past our own weaknesses and allow God to transform us. There were several of these people in my life before and they all had pretty similar advice for me, but I downplayed it each time. I felt they were right, but that it wasn't critical to see freedom in that area. Later, that problem built itself up inside of me during weakness and it became the reason for my fall, hindering me from living fully in the truth of the Gospel.
We are called to disciple all nations with the truth of the Gospel. To do this, we must incarnate among the people we're called, but we also have to remember our roots and be grounded in a heavenly culture. The key component to all of this is our identity in Christ. What does scripture say about us? Who are we? Who am I?
Chapter 5: Identity
People in Taiwan often asked me this question. Are you a missionary? Well, I'm a Christian who went to a foreign country to live, but am I a missionary?
My answer was always the same. I'm a teacher. Christians are all missionaries, right? I'm an English teacher. I didn't want people to label me as a missionary because then there's an expectation that I'm living a missionary lifestyle. The problem is I felt so far from a missionary lifestyle it seemed hypocritical to declare my primary identity as missionary.
It seemed easier to be a good teacher and I thought I was making great progress. I could look back and see how much I'd grown. There was a big change and I matured a lot. Although I felt defeated as a missionary, I was somewhat content helping my students learn and grow. It's an important role and can not be discounted in any way.
But then I learned a startling truth. I'm not a great teacher. I have weak areas and I often failed to clearly communicate my meaning and lessons. This realization came from a long and stressful conversation with a co-worker, but from it I could take a fresh look at my life and time here. I knew I needed to change. I needed to repent. And that changed everything.
That week, I learned a lot. I learned about the need to speak in heavenly tongues and communicate with our Father. I also learned about the power of God and our authority as children of God (John 1:12). We were meant to have intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, to commune with Him and walk in freedom and power (1 John 2:14).
There has been a lot of sickness in my life that I felt I need to just struggle with or see if the doctor can cure me. I never really truly believed that the healings and miracles in the scriptures could happen, even today. I watched testimony after testimony and then looked back at my own experiences concerning the power of God's Spirit and I had one conclusion. My natural mind should never control my worldview and thought processes.
There is a war going on all around us (Ephesians 6:12). I said this many times before, but after I engaged in the war, it became real on a new level. I had to tell my carnal mind to step down and let my spiritual mind interpret and speak power into my life (Romans 8:5-8). I needed break-through and healing in my own life. And I long to see break-through and healing all around me to the glory of God.
It's all about faith. I lacked faith. All I needed was a mustard seed and I didn't have it. Jesus told his followers to go out and heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse lepers, and raise the dead (Matthew 10:8). He said it's better that He leaves because He will send the Holy Spirit and we will do even greater things than Him (John 16:7). Christianity assumes a supernatural world where God has authority and yet there is an enemy that prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).
The Good News is who we are and what we have. We have been given the keys of the kingdom, the authority over every evil spirit, and a heavenly position with angels all around us (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 10:1; Philippians 3:20; Psalms 34:7). When the enemy fought back, I cowered with fear. I said I believed, but my mind was held captive. When trouble came, I was crushed. I could only stand when the body of Christ covered me. On my own, I fell.
Faith and Action
But that week, I repented and changed my life, I knew nothing was going to be the same. I don't have to wait for a great outpouring of the Spirit to speak in heavenly tongues and commune with the Father (Acts 19:6). I can move my spirit in line with His and fellowship at all times. I don't have to cower when people don't receive healing or encouragement. I press on because I believe that God can and will do far greater than I can even imagine.
My faith grew as I exercised it and pushed aside my carnal mind. My carnal mind led to sickness and depression. My spiritual mind led to restoration and joy. I declare it now. I am covered by the blood of Jesus and nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). I stand on my position and authority over every form of evil and sickness, commanding them to leave and always asking for the Holy Spirit to fill me, over and over again.
This is who we are in Christ. We are forgiven, justified, purified, chosen and adopted, raised up, made new, anointed and He set his seal over us forever and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:1-2; Colossians 1:13-14; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 1:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:6, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Romans 8:38-39) We are free in Christ (Galatians 5:1). This is our identity when we proclaim the truth of the Gospel among the people's we are called to. Anything that doesn't submit to this truth must go. Let it burn.
Chapter 6: Let It Burn
1 Corinthians 3:10 Using the gift that God gave me [Paul], I did the work of an expert builder and laid the foundation, and someone else is building on it. But each of you must be careful how you build. 11 For God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid. 12 Some will use gold or silver or precious stones in building on the foundation; others will use wood or grass or straw. 13 And the quality of each person's work will be seen when the Day of Christ exposes it. For on that Day fire will reveal everyone's work; the fire will test it and show its real quality. 14 If what was built on the foundation survives the fire, the builder will receive a reward. 15 But if your work is burnt up, then you will lose it; but you yourself will be saved, as if you had escaped through the fire.
Tested With Fire
Transitioning into a new culture brings hardship. Hardship feels like fire. Fire burns, and after going through a season of flames, I can say two things. One, it hurts. It hurts a lot. It's painful and you feel you'll never get out. Two, I'm so glad all the wood, hay and straw burned away. It's truly amazing and I can see it so clearly in my own life. I have been changed.
Sometimes we have confidence, but do we have faith? Sometimes we know the right answer, but do we believe it? Sometimes we make the right judgment, but did we help relieve the situation? I used to be a lot more confident about what I believed and what actions are right and wrong. Those haven't changed over time, but my attitude toward them and belief in them have. I went through fire.
Cultural shock, tragedies, and frustrations left me paralyzed with fear and anxiety. I knew it was enslaving me and it wasn't right, but I felt helpless to change the situation. I was by myself and even inviting others in didn't bring relief. I was tested with fire and the quality of my work was lacking. Built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ was too much hay and straw. And all of it came down to belief.
God Loves You
A simple statement. God loves you (Romans 5:8). Have you heard it before? Do you believe it? Let's test and see. Are you worried or anxious about your life? I realized my own unbelief, especially about this statement, and knew so much hay and straw was put there because of this sin. I don't believe, but I desperately desire for it. Laying in my bed one night, I caught a glimpse of what it would mean if I really believed God loved me.
It's amazing. What if God really loved you and had your entire life in His hands? What if everything was established and set before you by Him and all you had to do was walk in the goodness and faithfulness He already prepared for you (Ephesians 2:10)? How would it change your mindset if you believed God had everything established for your good (Romans 8:28)? For me, all anxiety, worry, and fear had to leave instantly. God loves you (1 John 4:9-11).
Walk in this tension, but don't give in to false assumptions based on your circumstances. Yes, you may feel pain, sorrow, or temptation, but no, that doesn't mean you need this suffering or it's God's will. Jesus paid the price to take it from you (Matthew 8:17; James 5:14-15). Don't accept it back! Maybe you haven't been delivered yet, but don't give up hope. Live in the tension while continuing to believe God's goodness. By His stripes, you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24). It's already done!
Emerging from those flames and seeing all the ashes from the hay and straw around me didn't mean all my pain was gone. It meant I was more mature, hopeful, and believing in more good things to come. It meant I grew in character and wisdom and was better able to serve others and remain positive. It meant I was able to see the best in others and refused to give up on relationships with them. It meant I was more effective and could see more break-through in my own life and in those around me.
Finally, I knew I had to build with precious metals. Our foundation is Jesus Christ and we must build with the fruit of the Spirit. Listen to others. Test everything you hear (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Don't make excuses for the scripture because it seems too challenging or too good to believe. Believe it based on God's authority and only build with materials from scripture. Build upon God with God and nothing else. When fire comes, let it burn because everything we build with will survive when we build with God's materials.
We need to be purified because we need to find peace with God, with each other, and within our own hearts (Colossians 3:15; Hebrews 12:14; Philippians 4:7; Romans 12:18; Psalm 85:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Romans 15:13). John 16:33 “I [Jesus] have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”
This is our ultimate goal as missionaries. We come like Jesus, bringing peace, reconciling everything back to God, and ushering in everlasting shalom. This is the kingdom of heaven. This is the Gospel.
Chapter 7: Culture
I had a choice after I became a Christian. I knew I was called to go abroad, but there were two choices in front of me. One was to study Chinese and anthropology and the other was to study in a Bible school. I chose to study anthropology because it will help understand different cultures. I felt I could study the scripture on my own, at church, and by listening to free materials all over the internet. However, learning about crossing cultures and then going there are two different things.
There are so many theories about culture, but none of them can truly explain the phenomenon. Culture is the pinnacle of the human expression. It's how we act, think, and function. Without understanding a foreign culture, you may feel they are irrational, crazy, and absurd. Even after understanding them, you may still feel you disagree with their philosophy or mindset.
Actually, it takes becoming that culture to really understand them. It's when you yourself start making the same absurd choices that they make that you can truly say you understand them. This is possible, but the culture you came from will still travel with you. That's why there's always a cultural bias. The secret for missionaries is to understand the third culture in the equation, which is what Jesus referred to by giving us a third way (Matthew 5).
The kingdom of heaven has a culture where people turn the other cheek, show reverence and honor for each other, and lift God above everything else (Matthew 5:38-48). Your culture and the culture you are trying to reach will have pieces of this heavenly culture, but they are not that heavenly culture. That's why we are referred to as strangers in the scriptures (John 17:16; 1 Peter 2:11). The place and culture we belong are not of this world.
Let's use an example. Driving. When people come to Taiwan, they feel it's dangerous on the roads because there are a lot of scooters weaving in and out of traffic along with the cars. People cut each other off, drive onto roads with oncoming traffic, and run red lights. From a western perspective, it seems like these people don't know how to be civil.
Let's compare this to driving in US. There, people follow rules for the most part. There are not many scooters, if any at all. People stop at red lights, look before turning, and it's a big deal if someone cuts you off. There are rules in place to govern traffic. Actually, more than rules. They are laws. It's the law. But you have to understand your cultural beliefs instruct how you view statements like, “it's the law”.
As far as I understand it, in Taiwan, police officers don't stop people to try and write tickets. They don't try to catch you in speed traps and they can be negotiated with, not in a corrupt way, but as a way to maintain relationships with each other. In the west, police officers will hold the law as the highest authority and deciding factor. In Taiwan, they hold the situation, relationship, and circumstances as the highest authority and deciding factor. It's different.
Consider the concept of cutting someone off. The assumption is that the person already on that road has the right of way because they were there first and the law says they have the right of way. But, what if we gave priority over those trying to turn onto the road. What if we let these people come onto traffic, giving room for them, so that they don't have to wait a long time to get where they want to go? Now you're starting to get a little perspective into the Taiwanese mind.
However, I will write a disclaimer in saying there are many people here who go abroad or learn about different cultures and find they like other cultures more than their own. Sometimes I have Taiwanese people tell me I'm more Taiwanese than them because I have naturally adapted to life here while they appreciate western culture more than their own. We can never place people in a culture and stereotype them. Even within a culture, there are so many subcultures. It's complex and beautiful.
With all the complexity, it seems impossible to really understand the people around you, but there is Good News. Jesus came to bring the kingdom of heaven near to us (Mark 1:15). He came to bring a new culture that enters into our existing cultures. We don't have to fully become another culture or completely give up our own. We are called to first and foremost become the heavenly culture of the kingdom and teach others the same, and we do this by becoming the scriptures, by being like Jesus.
One final word. When we cross cultures with the power of the Gospel, we do not go to people we think will receive it or we think are like us. We go to everyone. We go to the beetle nut chewing, Taiwanese speaking, hardened construction workers because honestly, I've met a few and they are just as interested in spiritual things as anyone else. We can speak to anyone because the culture of the kingdom speaks to everyone when it comes in power and love. This is our way to reach every tribe and tongue in Jesus' name. The key is power in love.
Chapter 8: Power
Where are we so far? We are missionaries sent to fulfill the great commission. We have new identities as children of God. We have been given authority over every evil. We have been purified with fire and we have incarnated into a foreign culture with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Let's get practical now. What does it mean to be a missionary? It is a person sent on mission. What is the mission? Seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). There are two parts. Seeking and saving. They are both integral to the identity and calling of a missionary.
Seeking reminds me of that childhood game, hide and seek. There are people out there we can't see right now. Maybe they're hiding. Maybe they're searching for something. But they are lost. They are hurt. But that doesn't mean they are open or willing to change. They may not be looking for you. They may think they're perfectly okay. And in Taiwan, they may just say everything is good even though there are evil as well as good spirits.
To seek, you have to approach and go to different places. You have to take risks and start conversations. You have to learn new languages and ways to speak. You have to learn social skills and share with relevancy. But even all that is not enough. Even if you can master the best approach and speak directly to their heart, they may not respond well. To seek doesn't mean to save. Saving comes with power. That's what Jesus gave us. Power and authority (Luke 10:19).
Power and authority come from God and are given to us when we are baptized with fire and born again (Romans 13:1; Matthew 3:11). Holy Spirit comes with power (Acts 1:8). It takes power to change dead bones into living stones (1 Peter 2:5). It takes power to heal and mend years of negative emotions, sins, and oppression. It takes power to change our identity in the heavenly realms. Holy Spirit comes with power.
When our identity changes, we are given a new authority. We are no longer in someone's family tree, but we are God's children (John 1:12). Before, we felt powerless and small compared to the rest of the world, but not we sit with Christ in heaven and have charge over the Earth (Ephesians 2:6; 1 Peter 3:22). We are given the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). The kingdom is within us. That means everything not submitting to the authority of Christ must flee at our command. This is power and authority.
The problem is there are too many obstacles, too many problems, and too much doubt. The essential component of a missionary, therefore, is faith. We have to believe. For me, this was a huge hindrance in my ministry in Taiwan. Two areas I felt weak in were faith and Sabbath. And actually, they are related. I didn't Sabbath because I didn't have a strong communion with the Father. I didn't have a strong communion with the Father because I didn't have enough faith. I didn't have enough faith because I didn't believe and persevere (more about this in Chapter 12).
I approached people on the street and people I knew, shared my story, testified to God's goodness, and prayed for them, but there was no positive or negative response. It was all so neutral. People heard it before and it didn't occur to them that this was the most important thing in their life. I put up fliers advertising for free English Bible studies and invited people to look at scripture with me. When I didn't immediately see break-through, I shrunk back. But, the scriptures say we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and are saved (Hebrews 10:39).
One reason I didn't see break-through was because I didn't know my authority over evil spirits, sickness and disease (Mark 16:17-18). With our authority as princes and princesses, we come in the name of the King of kings and no evil can come against us (John 1:12-13; Psalms 91:10). We stand firm and resist the devil (1 Corinthians 16:13; James 4:7). We speak directly to those powers and authorities below us and they must obey our words (Ephesians 6:12; Ephesians 1:21-23). Seeing break-through and healing requires faith and perseverance.
Don't Give Up
When I thought about giving up and going back I knew it was because I couldn't imagine seeing the break-through I had hoped for. Everything is so much harder once you're doing what you were called to and you really have to press in, but you don't have the will to. I knew that winning Taiwan for the kingdom of light meant persevering to the end (Galatians 6:9). It meant never giving up.
But that was before I wanted to give up. And then it got even harder. More sickness came, more oppression, more challenges, and more doubt. And of course, no fruit. I felt an absence of power in my life and didn't believe my prayer could really alter the spiritual realm around people. After I got desperate enough and really realized my depravity, I started watching more and more testimonies of God's goodness and I started to believe that could happen with me, too.
Back to the Foundation
When I looked at the healings in the book of Acts again, I noticed they exercised the same authority over ever sickness and evil spirits.
Acts 3:6 But Peter said to him, “I have no money at all, but I give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I order you to get up and walk!”
Acts 9:34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ makes you well. Get up and make your bed.” At once Aeneas got up.
Acts 14:9-10 Paul saw that he believed and could be healed, so he looked straight at him10 and said in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” The man jumped up and started walking around.
We believe that the apostles were somehow extra special, but we forget their past. They also doubted, disbelieved, and got it wrong (Mark 16:14; Luke 9:54; Matthew 16:23). What made them special was they were chosen and given authority by Jesus (Luke 6:13; Matthew 10:1). When we are born again, we receive all the fullness of children of God (John 1:12). If you look at it like a child, it's pretty simple (Matthew 18:3). We have authority to heal, cleanse, cast out demons and raise the dead just as the apostles did! It's amazing!
As I learned all of this, my carnal mind immediately tried to interject, saying it's not scientific and it's too hard to believe. When you look around, you can tell not all do works of healing and miracles (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). It’s experientially true. But that doesn’t mean you cannot do them, especially when you’re sent out into new territory. Remember, don’t complicate it. It should be so simple that a child can understand it (Matthew 18:3). Believe and it will be given to you (Mark 11:24).
We may feel unsure and filled with doubt still, but the real truth is if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can tell this mountain to be removed from one spot and placed somewhere else (Matthew 17:20). It’s the simple truth we must come back to, the one that even a child can understand (Matthew 18:3). We must let our spiritual minds take over and wait. Like the apostles waiting for Pentecost, we wait for power on high (Luke 24:49). There was a renewing in my mind and spirit and I was ready to go back into the field again. This changed everything for me.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 For we brought the Good News to you, not with words only, but also with power and the Holy Spirit, and with complete conviction of its truth.
Chapter 9: This Changes Everything
I always use to view my Christian walk as seeking God with all I have and saying yes no matter the circumstances. It seemed noble to suffer and keep going on, encouraging others to do the same. Peter tells us that Christ Jesus suffered in his body and we are to follow in his footsteps (1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 4:1).
The context of Jesus' suffering, though, is persecution at the hands of men, and Peter is addressing those servants who suffer for doing good (1 Peter 2:18-20). We will be persecuted for walking in the light, but by whom (Matthew 10:22; 2 Timothy 3:12)? Jesus never allowed Satan to persecute Him. He used the Word of God and His authority as the Son of God to cast away all temptation and demonic influence in and around Him (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:23-27).
Jesus only submitted to persecution from men at his execution in order to bring us salvation (Hebrews 10:12). He did it to save us and heal us and this should be how we endure suffering, only by the hands of men who are ignorant in their flesh, so that we may save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). Paul had a long list of suffering.
2 Corinthians 11:24 Five times I [Paul] was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; 25 three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. 26 In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. 27 There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. 28 And not to mention other things, every day I am under the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 When someone is weak, then I feel weak too; when someone is led into sin, I am filled with distress. 30 If I must boast, I will boast about things that show how weak I am.
If you look at the list, he never mentions being sick or diseased or oppressed by Satan. He only mentions suffering as the result of men and the difficult circumstances because of those men. Though we suffer as Christ did, we never give into the enemy because we should never be in bondage. Our war is against rulers, authorities, powers of this world's darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
Jesus exercised complete authority over the spiritual and natural realms and then gave us that authority (Matthew 28:18; Luke 10:19). That changed everything for the disciples. Before, they could only watch and beg Jesus to help them. After, they were treading over serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:17). And it's the same with us when Jesus breathes His Holy Spirit into us today (John 20:22).
We no longer have to endure physical and spiritual oppression (unless it's persecution from men), but we can walk in freedom and authority in the name of Jesus Christ (John 8:36). We are not born again to be powerless and ineffective, but to walk in power and cast out every sickness and disease, natural and supernatural (2 Peter 1:8; Mark 16:17-18). We walk in the faith of Jesus Christ to tear down every stronghold of the enemy.
2 Corinthians 10:3 It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. 4 The weapons we use in our fight are not the world's weapons but God's powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; 5 we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.
It Is Possible
The problem is we don't always understand our authority or our power is limited because of our lack of faith, creating weakness where there should be strength.
Matthew 17:14 When they [Jesus and the disciples] returned to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son! He is an epileptic and has such terrible attacks that he often falls in the fire or into water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” 17 Jesus answered, “How unbelieving and wrong you people are! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy here to me!” 18 Jesus gave a command to the demon, and it went out of the boy, and at that very moment he was healed. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked him, “Why couldn't we drive the demon out?” 20 “It was because you do not have enough faith,” answered Jesus. “I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything! 21 But only prayer and fasting can drive this kind out; nothing else can.”
Jesus gave a clear reason for the disciples' lack of power. He said it was because of the littleness of their faith. Jesus called that generation unbelieving and perverted for not having the power to cure that boy. I found this true in my own life, too. When I used to read the scriptures, I believed they were true, but not enough to think that the same things could actually happen today. If we see a boy in that condition, we should be the first to run up to him and set him free, but often we cower away and feel it's impossible to defeat. We can learn from Jesus here.
Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was cured. Jesus believed, but the disciples tried to do the same, didn't they? What was different between the two? Jesus answers the question and says this kind comes out only by prayer and fasting. What was the prayer? It was Jesus rebuking the demon. It wasn't asking God to heal the boy, as if God didn't want to. The prayer was a command. Jesus fasted and understood His authority. After this, there wasn't any struggle. The boy was cured from that very hour.
Prayer and Fasting
Prayer and fasting are connected (Acts 13:3; Acts 14:23; 1 Corinthians 7:5). We fast to defeat temptation and the enemy (Mathew 4:1-4). We fast to serve God (Luke 2:37). We fast in ministry (Acts 13:2). We fast because of sorrow (Mathew 9:15). We fast for a reward (Matthew 6:18). Fasting strengthens our faith, protects us from giving in to temptation, and establishes our authority over every form of evil. Why? Because fasting is about communing with God, being connected to the scriptures, and knowing deeply the love of the Father and our position as children of the King of Kings.
We don't run from suffering or avoid it. Persecution will come and even Paul faced much hardship for following Jesus, but when the snake bit him in Malta, he stood on his authority (Acts 28:3). He wasn't harmed by the poison of the snake, showing all those around him the power of God (Acts 28:5-6). When he heard that the chief's father was sick with fever and dysentery, he healed him and all the other sick people on the island (Acts 28:8-9).
In the midst of Paul's persecution, being shipwrecked and imprisoned, he boldly shared the Gospel, healed the sick, and nullified the effect of the serpent. This is our calling, but we must believe, fast and pray with authority. We don't ask sickness and disease to leave, we command it. If we look back at Mathew 17, we are encouraged at the level of faith we need. All it takes is the faith of a mustard seed and we can move mountains.
Chapter 10: A Mustard Seed
Size is not an indication of success or failure. One mustard seed can grow into a tree bigger than all others (Matthew 13:32). One mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). One mustard seed can become the Church of Jesus Christ. If you're starting something new, you may start small, but you never start weak. The kingdom of God starts with power, goes in power, and manifests itself in power (1 Corinthians 4:20).
Small but not Weak
Mark 6:7 [Jesus] called the twelve disciples together and sent them out two by two. He gave them authority over the evil spirits 8 and ordered them, “Don't take anything with you on the trip except a walking stick—no bread, no beggar's bag, no money in your pockets. 9 Wear sandals, but don't carry an extra shirt.” 10 He also told them, “Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that place. 11 If you come to a town where people do not welcome you or will not listen to you, leave it and shake the dust off your feet. That will be a warning to them!” 12 So they went out and preached that people should turn away from their sins. 13 They drove out many demons, and rubbed olive oil on many sick people and healed them.
In Luke 10, Jesus again sends out His disciples and they come back surprised that even the demons obey them in Jesus' name (Luke 10:17). People received healing and deliverance because Jesus gave them authority to heal and deliver (Luke 10:19). When they went out, it wasn't them asking Jesus to heal or deliver, it was them doing all the healing and delivering because they had authority to do so.
I always thought it would make a lot more sense if God showed up in signs and wonders when starting a new ministry or reaching out to a new friend, but when I prayed for this, nothing happened. I didn't understand that I was given authority to do this myself and by praying in a safe way, I was actually cowering before sickness and disease instead of stepping over it.
The more I watched testimonies of God's power, the more I realized that these people were praying very differently than I was. If my friend was sick, I might say something like, “God, I pray for my friend. Will you heal them of this sickness and bring comfort, in Jesus' name.” When I watched other testimonies, they prayed more like this, “I command this sickness to leave this body right now, in Jesus' name.”
Their prayer was bold and risky while mine was safe. Their prayer was in faith, believing in total healing right in that moment. And most importantly, their prayer was effective, seeing results over and over while I believed it wasn't really possible. Because of this, I erroneously believed mustard seed growth was like an invisible hand moving among a population until it grows into a significant change.
When Jesus sent out his disciples, that wasn't the kind of mustard seed illustration that followed. For the disciples, it was more like mountains moving and instant results. I believe we have to reconsider what it means to have mustard seed growth. If a single mustard seed of faith can move mountains, we should expect our first impacts to be just that. We should expect mountains to move and then dream of what it will mean for that mustard seed to grow into a tree larger than all other trees where even birds come to nest in its branches (Matthew 13:32).
The first time I really decided to exercise this power was incredible. One of my students came to me and said his foot was hurt because it got caught somewhere while his mom was driving her scooter. He looked downcast and sad, and I immediately thought I should pray for him, but I didn't want to just ask God to take the pain away. I wanted to deliver him from it myself in Jesus' name.
So I prayed. I told that pain to leave and for total restoration and then I asked him how he felt. I could tell he was confused, so I asked if he felt better or the same. He looked at me with his scrunched up face full of pain and sorrow and said, “the same”. So I put my hand back on his foot again and I prayed again. I told all of that pain to leave in Jesus' name and prayed for total healing and then I asked him again how he felt.
Amazingly, he said he felt better. I was excited, but I wanted to make sure. I asked him if it hurt anymore. He said it hurt, but now it only hurt around where his toes were. So I put my hand around where his toes were, thanked the Father for what He just did, and then commanded the rest of that pain to leave in Jesus' name. Finally, he said his foot was good and even later when I asked him, it was okay. Praise God!
This story amazes me because this little boy was only in kindergarten and yet God loves him so much that he healed him right there. That just blows me away. This is faith like a mustard seed. This is how the kingdom of God should grow, in signs and wonders – in power! We don't measure success based on what we do or the number of people we touch. We are children of God and our success is all from Him. We exercise our authority and watch as the kingdom manifests in power to the glory of God.
Start With One
As a perfectionist, I want to reach every person and see one-hundred percent effectiveness and change, but even Jesus did not force people to repent or change. Matthew 11:21 “How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible for you too, Bethsaida! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have long ago put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their sins!”
Miracles did not cause everyone to repent. Some remained unchanged. Not everyone wants prayer and not everyone is willing to receive healing in Jesus’ name or receive the truth of the Gospel. As a missionary, we always start small. We always remember it is not us who can grow faith in others, it is only God (1 Corinthians 3:6).
We listen to the Spirit and we remain faithful to His words because His words are always faithful and true (Revelation 21:5; 22:6). We love others because Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:19). Even if it’s just that one person, we rejoice with heaven over the one (Luke 15:7). At the same time, we have to acknowledge what seeds do. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Seeds grow! Although the smallest of seeds, it transforms into something new, a tree, and it grows so large that the birds find shelter in its branches (Matthew 13:32).
We have to remember both of these truths as we walk forward on mission. The kingdom of God starts as a mustard seed. It starts small. And then it grows into something you would never imagine. It grows very large! This is an encouragement and a challenge to me. The challenge is the kingdom of God should be growing into something we wouldn’t expect. The encouragement is we don’t have to take the world at once. We start with the one and we watch as the word of God spreads through hearts and networks.
Matthew 13:33 Jesus told them still another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.”
The result of mustard seed growth or yeast spreading in dough is the Church or the gathering of the saints on mission in the world under the banner of Jesus Christ.
Chapter 11: One Church
What is the church? The Underground Network in Tampa, Florida defines church as mission, community, and worship. These three components all have to be present for a church to be a church. The mission of God is to save those who are poor, spiritually and physically. Community is when we love each other like Jesus loves us. Worship is loving God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength.
What does it look like? That may be a little different in every culture. In Tampa, there are micro-churches that meet in people's homes to look at Jesus together, worship and eat together. Each micro-church has their own specific mission, whether it be reaching out to homeless people, addicts, or people with disabilities. In Taiwan, churches look more traditional, but they have a clear mission to evangelize the lost by inviting them to special dinners where they introduce them to the church, community and faith.
I came to Taiwan by myself. I had no idea what it would mean to be a missionary here or how to do anything mission related. I tried different things, but soon realized I needed a community to reach out to people. I can't do it alone. The first thing I realized in trying to pave my own way as a missionary is I can't pave my own way as a missionary. I have to first learn. I have to first wait. I have to first submit.
It is through the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers that the body of Christ is built up and equipped for service (Ephesians 4:11-12). We are all called to reach out, proclaim truth, evangelize, care for others, and teach, but these gifts enable and empower us to do so. This is the importance of being connected to the body of Christ. It is in the gathering that we are equipped for the work we are called to do. I’ll say it again: We cannot do this alone.
Whenever you fall, find your community. Whenever you see break-through, find your community. Bring them with you when you need help and when you find new revelation. Carry them forward with you and lean upon them. Take their burdens upon you and learn from them. The church has to be one just as the Father and Son are one (John 17:20-21).
I want to write this short book first as an encouragement to myself. I've been on this journey a little while already, but I still feel in many ways that I'm still just starting. I tried to reach Taiwan in many ways, but felt ineffective and disheartened. There is a lot of preconceived notions about Christianity and foreign missionaries here, as I'm sure there are in other places. Instead of being defeated by it, I need to learn to adjust and adapt.
Foreign missionaries here are stereotyped as Mormons who can speak Chinese and only care about converting you. If I'm not a missionary, I'm stereotyped as an English teacher, which can also come with a negative perception. You can't avoid all misconceptions, but you will get a chance to educate and correct people if they are willing to dialogue with you. I experimented with different approaches and found some that really surprised me. One of them is praying for the sick and deliverance. Here is another:
“What a crazy couple of days. Praise God! On my way home, I felt led to walk around and pray for people. Immediately, a foreigner came up to me to give me a tract. I was very skeptical and said I don't want it. He insisted though, so I told him I'm Christian. He said I should definitely take it then. I found out he is Christian, too, and he's been passing out tracts for many years. I was interested in tracts before, but not enough to go out and try it. We talked for a while, but that didn't stop him from passing out tracts to people at the same time. Some people lingered around, so I got to share the Gospel with people while he passed out tracts. It was really new, but also inspiring.
Finally, he told me he would be back the next day and I returned home. That night I went to bed and felt quite sick. The next day was Sunday, but I thought I wouldn't be able to go. I spoke healing over myself and went to bed. I decided to go to church, but I wouldn't go out to meet him again. After our gathering, though, I just felt I should go, despite not feeling one-hundred percent. At first, he wasn't there, so I walked around, started conversations with people, and prayed for them. Later, I met a musician that writes and sings his own Gospel songs. It was really inspiring.
And then my new friend showed up as I was about to leave. We passed out tracts together and the first person I gave one to started a long conversation that was very encouraging. We kept working side by side passing out tracts and eventually I felt I should leave, but my friend was talking in-depth to a family, so I waited. After they finished, I got a chance to pray for them. The wife had pain in her hand, back, and head that all left in Jesus' name!”
Heart of the Matter
Reflecting on the last two days, I've realized I have discovered two great tools to open up conversation and share the Gospel with others. One is healing, which shows people a sign and softens their heart. The other is tracts, which open up people's minds and also helps starts conversations and opportunities to share the Gospel. They are used together, too. Tracts are great to give people who don't have time to talk, and if they can stay and talk, then praying for healing is a great confirmation to the truth of the Gospel.
Tools are not the heart of the matter. It's about the great commission and introducing people to the living God. It's hard work and tiring, but it has eternal significance. What can be more important than to labor for the Lord! It's an honor to be uncomfortable for Him and amazing to experience the Comforter heal all wounds. Amen.
This approach made it clear to my intentions and also allowed people to digest my message in their own time and space through writing. When people warm up to you, it opens opportunities to pray for them in power and faith. Invite your community to go out with you and then invite the people you pray for to meet your community. Connect people together and most importantly, connect them to God. These first encounters open the door for future relationships, which open the door for teaching, training, discipling, and new members of the community to go and do likewise (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 10:37).
This is a mustard seed approach that relies on the church to spread the Gospel across cultures, introducing them to a heavenly culture from above and showing they too have the same power with the Holy Spirit to trample on scorpions and handle snakes without being hurt (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:19). It's person by person, coming with power, that multiplies exponentially.
Let me also reiterate that these approaches don’t guarantee one-hundred percent success because we cannot force people to receive, accept or believe. When rejection comes (it will come), we have to shake the dust from our feet and keep searching for that person of peace (Matthew 10:11-14, Luke 10:5-11). Don’t let other people hinder you from fulfilling your calling. Stand strong in the faith and be courageous (1 Corinthians 16:13).
The church is one (Ephesians 4:4-6). We are all working together to accomplish God's will on the earth. We don't criticize others, but we praise God when we hear testimonies and see more growth. The church is a body and we are all parts (1 Corinthians 12:12). We don't compare ourselves to each other, but listen to God's voice and step out in faith to fulfill the mission he has already established for us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Matthew 28:18 Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20 and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is our mission. We are called to go and incarnate in every nation. We must be changed through repentance and faith and receive power from on high. We are not alone. The church is our family and God is our Father. With a community of witnesses, the world will believe in our message only when we are one. John 17:22 I [Jesus] gave them the same glory you [The Father] gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one: 23 I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me.
Chapter 12: Tongues, Sabbath, and Prophecy
I didn't know it could be like this, that I would pray and the Living God would make His presence at home with me. I want to share this testimony with you. I really used to struggle with Sabbath and just resting in God's presence. I knew it was essential for me, but didn't feel anything and was just so bored. Praying was monotonous and it seemed pointless.
Before I finish the testimony, let me tell you my experiences with speaking in angelic tongues. I learned about speaking in angelic tongues from reading scripture, but I witnessed it firsthand when I became friends with two missionaries, Anna and Pastor William. They spoke in tongues every time they prayed and I really wanted to receive the same gift. They prayed for me a lot, but nothing ever happened. I felt like it was coming, but it never fully manifested itself. I wasn't fully baptized in the Spirit, yet (Acts 1:5).
It wasn't until I moved to Taiwan that I was baptized in the Spirit. It was at a conference and the missionary there had already prayed for me. After that, I was just sitting there on the floor praying on my own because there was nothing else to do at that time. Everyone else was having their own encounters with the Holy Spirit.
Then the pastor came, laid hands on me and prayed for me. It wasn't anything special and then she moved on. As soon as she walked away, the Holy Spirit came upon me and I was speaking in tongues, letting all worry and fear and doubt leave me. I was loud, but it didn't matter. There were plenty of other people just as filled with the Spirit and when He moves upon you, you don't care what other people think anymore.
I received the gift of tongues, but I didn't know how to use it. The first time, it was involuntary and I thought it would come again at the right time. For the next couple years, it did come a couple times, but it was very rare. It wasn't until a few of us got together and started discussing the topic together that I was left with a challenge. My friend Robert challenged me to speak in tongues every day and said I have the gift already, I just have to exercise it. I wasn't so sure, but I was ready to grow spiritually and gave it a try.
I started speaking in tongues on my own and even though it was me controlling it, I knew there was a spiritual connection with my Father. That week I just practiced and it was amazing. I thought back to Anna and Pastor William. One time when they were praying for me to receive tongues and they told me to just move my mouth. I thought that was so fake, but actually it was a step of faith. They knew that it is for every believer and they really wanted me to be baptized in the Spirit and receive this wonderful gift from heaven above.
Mark 16:17 "Believers will be given the power to perform miracles: they will drive out demons in my name; they will speak in strange tongues; 18 if they pick up snakes or drink any poison, they will not be harmed; they will place their hands on sick people, and these will get well.”
1 Corinthians 14:1 It is love, then, that you should strive for. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts, especially the gift of proclaiming God's message [prophecy]. 2 Those who speak in strange tongues do not speak to others but to God, because no one understands them. They are speaking secret truths by the power of the Spirit. 3 But those who proclaim God's message [prophesy] speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort. 4 Those who speak in strange tongues help only themselves, but those who proclaim God's message [prophesy] help the whole church.
Benefits of Tongues
These verses used to be too crazy to believe they were possible today. But when they started happening to me, my whole life changed. It was a simple belief at first, and then I was fully convinced. When I read these verses now, they come alive in new ways. Speaking in tongues is a sign that follows those who believe (Mark 16:17). It is communication with God and it edifies us personally (1 Corinthians 14:4). For me, it was essential for spending time alone with God in my secret place and just relaxing in His presence (Matthew 6:6). Sabbath changed completely after this. Now I can rest in God's presence, speak in angelic tongues, sing to the Lord, and then speak with understanding. It's awesome! It changed my entire prayer life.
Even more, it is essential for missions. We must have an intimate relationship with our Father because God is life and He is love (John 1:3-4; 1 John 4:8). Without Him we have no connection to every good thing, for every good thing comes from above (James 1:17). Speaking in tongues is prayer. It's relationship with the Father. It edifies our spirit and gives us rest. Even more, it gives us endurance to persevere and really enjoy the presence of God. You don't have to work hard to feel God's presence. It is a gift through the Holy Spirit and we can use tongues to strengthen that connection.
A more personal relationship with the Holy Spirit also brings more revelation about who Jesus is and more of the prophetic (John 16:12-15). 1 Corinthians 14:4 Those who speak in strange tongues help only themselves, but those who proclaim God's message [prophesy] help the whole church.
Our personal relationship with the Father in connection with the Holy Spirit not only edifies ourselves, but also edifies the church through prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:4). We should desire the greater gift of prophecy to build up the church and keep unity in the body, but prophecy is also a sign for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:1-6; 23-25).
1 Corinthians 14:23 If, then, the whole church meets together and everyone starts speaking in strange tongues—and if some ordinary people or unbelievers come in, won't they say that you are all crazy? 24 But if everyone is proclaiming God's message [prophesying] when some unbelievers or ordinary people come in, they will be convinced of their sin by what they hear. They will be judged by all they hear, 25 their secret thoughts will be brought into the open, and they will bow down and worship God, confessing, “Truly God is here among you!”
I have seen prophecy work just like this. There was a couple that I prayed for and both received different types of healing, which opened their hearts to hear about the Gospel. It also deepened our relationships, but I soon found that they needed more teaching before they would be able to be born again and live freely in the truth of God. John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The next time we were together, I received a prophetic word suddenly and just started sharing it. I told her I can see this box that she's inside of representing something dark from her past. I shared that the box was opened, but she remained inside, too afraid and weak to jump out. Her husband immediately said she has to jump out, but I said she doesn't have to. I told her the truth about the box. Actually, the box isn't real and she doesn't have to jump out or be strong. She only has to believe the truth and trust in God. I said, “You don't have to be strong. God is your strength.”
After I shared this, she was really amazed and started crying. She told me how true it is in her life and I saw she was being delivered even in that moment. It presented another opportunity for her to believe that Jesus does come to give living water and he is the way, the truth and the life (John 4:14, John 14:6). I didn't plan to receive a word for her. It just came, and I am hungry for more because it confirms the truth that we preach in the same way that healings or miracles do.
These supernatural gifts are essential for ministry and the daily life of the believer. The Holy Spirit comes in power, glorifies Jesus, profits the church, and reveals sin to the unbeliever (1 Timothy 1:7, John 16:14, 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 14:25). Spiritual gifts originate in the Holy Spirit and bring us unity with our Father and with each other. 1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. 5 There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. 6 There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service. 7 The Spirit's presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.
Epilogue: Taiwan’s Challenges
We have the authority to heal the sick, baptize, cast out demons, and tear down every spiritual stronghold of the enemy (Matthew 10:8, Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5). This is the truth, clearly written in scripture, and now it’s time to live it out. Jesus’ words are true in Taiwan just like anywhere else in the world. The testimonies of people receiving healing and salvation increase, but so does the rejection. The more we practice what Jesus said to do, the more we will come across the challenges of our specific contexts. Taiwan has its own unique challenges.
A large part of the Taiwanese culture is built upon saving face, making your dreams come true, and obtaining success, which mostly means earning money. There is a pride in many for how young they look, how they take care of themselves, and how incredible they are in various skills. Families usually stick together through generations and parents care for children as younger generations care for older generations. Money, skills, jobs, houses, and personal items all build into giving you face, which is the most important quality in society.
Taiwan is also very superstitious and religious. Many believe in fate, various gods and idols, and blessing through rituals and fortune tellers. People with these beliefs connect every spirituality with power, but sometimes that power works for them and sometimes it works against them. If they go to the temple and pray for financial blessing, they believe they will earn more money. At the same time, if they go to the fortune teller and discover their name was chosen wrongly and will bring a curse on them, they will immediately take the advice of the fortune teller and change their name. When they hear about different religions that want to pray or bless them, it may come across as an unknown power, one that could bring good things or bad things.
Declaring the kingdom come in Taiwan often falls on deaf ears when presented to busy people trying to earn more money, Buddhists who are afraid a curse will fall on them, or people who are simply irritated at being bothered by another religious fanatic wanting them to convert. These are real barriers in Taiwan. If you want to pray for those of Christian backgrounds or with a more Western mindset, you will see openness, but there is often rejection from Buddhist, business, and atheist backgrounds. The problem is that most of the success will be from people who already know the truth of the Gospel while those who haven’t heard don’t even give it a chance.
The truth of the power of the Gospel is still just as true and yet there is a blockage when people close down before you can start a conversation. One boy I approached refused to even say a word to me and instead ignored me like I didn’t even exist. How do we reach people like that? I want to obey God’s commands just like you do, so I really had to reconsider my missionary role. Tracts, healing and prophecy are great tools, but when there is a predisposition to reject and ignore, then we have to consider our strategy. That’s not to say don’t pass out tracts or don’t heal or don’t prophesy. I will continue doing all of these, but I will focus my energy into where God is bringing fruit in my life, which will change over time.
For me, after sharing with my friend, Yujin, and being challenged, it became clear to me the most fruit I have been seeing was from teaching a university class on major characters from scripture. It was built into the curriculum to share Jesus’ story, even if many students came just to learn English. After realizing this, I decided I will invite one of the students to eat dinner with me since he was not consistent in coming. I learned it was not because he wasn’t interested that he wasn’t consistent, but he had various time conflicts during the class time. I was expectant to meet with him, but I didn’t think it would really change my perspective about missions and my role in God’s kingdom in Taiwan. This is what I shared with my friend after meeting with my student:
“I met with my student today. He actually went to our church a few times before, and said he argued a lot with his friend over philosophical issues. We just hung out and ate together and then walked around campus and I started sharing the story of Jesus with him. I shared about the cross and he said he never heard the story before. I was shocked. Then he asked if we can walk around the whole campus so I can share more stories about Jesus.
So I started from the Old Testament prophecies and shared about Jesus' birth and miracles, sinners vs religious people, the passion of the Christ, His burial and resurrection and then the Holy Spirit coming on Pentecost and the birth of Christianity. I shared about what we have to do to be saved and the purpose of Christians on the Earth. He was so interested and said he never heard this before. Then I invited him to the Sunday night gathering at your place and he wants to come. I'm so blown away and so thankful. Praise God!”
All Things Come Together
I can see how God is interweaving all of my stories and experiences together to see the kingdom come and even for me to be totally filled with God’s grace and blessing. My Chinese language, work among international students in American universities, writing novels and publishing all came together in this one night. I used Chinese and English to communicate clearly the story of Jesus in a way he can understand and my storytelling abilities made it become real and alive for him. It is all God. It’s amazing!
I believe there is something every missionary must learn here. Where is God working in your life? What gifts do you have? What experiences have you been through? What people or group are on your heart? Experiment. Do. Try. Evaluate. Go back to the truth of scripture and then start again. I’m still experimenting as I follow Jesus and stay true to His commands. Pray and share with your community. Remember, we are not in this alone. We are one part of the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12 Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. 13 In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink. 14 For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts.
And most importantly, Jesus is with us. Matthew 28:20 And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
My mission to reach Taiwan: Focus on relationships, telling the story of Jesus in an understandable and life-giving way and then inviting people into the community to see the fullness of the body of Christ. Secondly, use tracts as a tool to reach those who you may never have an authentic relationship with. Thirdly, heal the sick and prophesy, showing the kingdom of God is not of words only, but also with power.
Disclaimer: I’m still not there yet. Even every time I see break-through, whether through healing, prophecy, tracts, or sharing the Gospel relationally, there comes immediate spiritual resistance. People won’t always understand you, agree with you, or like you, and yet we love them regardless. We have to discern how we share our message within every context and who we invest in (Matthew 7:6). We pray for light to penetrate into each person’s heart, hoping they will also come to believe and be saved. We ask the Father for the kingdom to come before we see the fullness of His glory (Matthew 6:10).
When I started writing this book, I felt unofficial because of my unconventional way in coming here and also because of my lack of effectiveness in Taiwan. I had no support system, wasn’t clearly part of a missional community, and fell into a lot of sin and dead ends reaching out to local people. Through the adventure of writing this and through lots of hardships, I can say Jesus has turned everything upside down. I feel a clear sense of purpose and mission, a community that gathers around me to support me and encourage me, and I can see fruit blooming!
A while ago, someone asked me how I think Taiwan will be reached with the Gospel. My answer then is the same as it is now. It’s simply this: Don’t give up. That’s it. Even when we see no fruit or fall into sin or darkness floods over us, Jesus is interceding for us, lifting and filling us up to go back into the fields again (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). Galatians 6:9 So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.
I hope this short book encourages you and equips you for greater works of service.
Take a minute right now and pray for Taiwan.
Brother in Christ,