Mission in Taiwan: Checkpoint Winter 2021
Posted on: 28th May 2021
CMS missionaries Sam and Shan-Shan Chrisp are in the refreshing context of a country where COVID did not spread as expected. Sam writes that even in Taiwan they have still been discussing questions of why God allows the suffering that COVID has caused.
In the early days of the COVID outbreak, scientists predicted Taiwan would be the second worst hit country in the world. Since Taiwan is a small island next door to China with lots of business and tourism connections, the virus appeared very quickly on our shores. Every day people nervously checked their phones for the government’s regular updates on COVID case statistics, to see if there was further spread.
But, thanks to swift action by the Taiwan government, the virus was contained quickly, and the predicted outbreak did not transpire. Strict quarantine for new arrivals into the country is now standard, with mobile phone location tracking, expensive fines, and police enforcement. As a result, the country has never needed to enter lockdown, and life has mostly gone on as normal. Mask wearing and temperature checking has been part of everyday life for over a year now.
Taiwanese people are creative as well as cooperative. Mobile apps were built to help people find the nearest shop with masks in stock to buy. And at one point the National Health Minister used his daily press briefing to demonstrate how to use a rice cooker to sterilise a mask for re-use!1
Most Christians in Taiwan have tried to be above reproach in following government guidelines and respecting the hard work
needed to keep the country safe. Some churches ceased meeting for a time, out of caution. But most have now returned to meeting in person with appropriate measures in place.
For us, serving here in Taiwan, we’re thankful that we’ve been able to continue meeting with people and attending church. We’ve also had opportunities for conversations with our non-Christian friends. Some questions we’ve been asked or thought about are:
“Why is this happening?”
“Why did Italy suffer so much? Aren’t they supposed to be a Christian country?”
“What does it mean to say God is sovereign in the face of this?”
Greatest need, to know Jesus
In response, we’ve tried to explain how God made this world good, but it’s been broken by sin (Romans 8:20), and so the suffering and struggles we face are part of living in a world that is in rebellion against God. And we share about God’s great plan to fix this world completely—to renew all things through his suffering servant who will deal with sin (Isaiah 11 & 65).
Well, in theory anyway. For me, thinking about how to respond is one thing, and managing to communicate is another. For questions like these, I often think of what I want to say in English, start speaking in Chinese, but then I realise halfway through there’s a key concept I don’t how to translate into Chinese yet! It’s a humbling experience, and pushes us to listen more, and pray more, as we keep growing in language and culture.
So please keep praying for Taiwan, and for us as we serve here. No matter how well Taiwanese people protect themselves from COVID, they still need to know and follow Jesus!
Thank God that Taiwan has been largely spared from the pandemic and pray that Taiwanese people will indeed know and follow Jesus.