Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Tool of Hospitality; The Areopagus of Television; The Call of Continual Learning for Pastors

We have a few updates and prayer requests.

Visitors and More Visitors

This Sunday we are scheduled to have many students come to our house. Some are Chinese and Korean international students at the local university here in Alabama. We've also invited some young men, American college students, who are potential future pastors. This year, I have been mentoring one American and one Nepalese, and both of these men have been involved in the outreach and discipleship of the students whom we are hosting this Sunday afternoon.

Please pray for our time and opportunities to share the Gospel or mentor those who are already Christians.

The following month, we will be hosting visitors from Taiwan. Please also pray for our conversations, that we would make the most of every opportunity.

We have hosted quite a few people this past year, some from Taiwan, and God has already given us the opportunity to get into
several very good, deep spiritual conversations about the Gospel and God's plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. God uses hospitality, and He commands in the New Testament that as Christians we make it a practice in our homes.

My daughters get a picture with a Taiwanese graduate student at the famous well in Sheffield, Alabama where Helen Keller learned her first word, "water."

Christianity Communicated on Taiwan Television:
Although much of the younger generation in Taiwan spend hours upon hours on online computer gaming, the middle age and older generation have their televisions on, often all day. We've been considering how best to get the Gospel message into Taiwanese homes through television. As surely as Paul went directly to the middle of the ideas market place in Athens, we want to get our message smack in the middle of Taiwan's ideas marketplace -- the television. There are several video projects in process that could be used to reach especially the retirees who spend much of their time at home. Among them are converting the Children's Ministries International curriculum into an animated format where the lessons could be put onto DVD's or broadcast on the air.

This video is from a popular Buddhist television station in Taiwan called "Great Love" Television. Surprisingly this particular program is about a doctor who served at a Christian hospital in ChangHua.

Currently there are not many quality Christian programs on Taiwanese TV. New Eyes TV has produced a situation Taiwanese-language comedy coupled with a English language teaching that may reach the older generation. In Mandarin, there is a similar kind of program called "Let's Talk English." Other than these two English-language related outreaches, there is one television station almost exclusively devoted to Christian programming: Good TV. It is found very near on the dial to a Buddhist religious station with an extremely popular drama. One would hope that viewers would stumble upon GoodTV as they change channels to get to the Buddhist drama.

English Around the Block - New Eyes TV program uses Taiwanese to teach English to reach Taiwanese-speaking older generation and countryside population

Let's Talk English - ORTV

Good TV Taiwanese language program

Unfortunately GoodTV does not always practice much discernment on what is aired. Almost anything professing Christianity can be found. There are great interviews and good testimonies, good outreach programs like Let's Talk English. But there are also a plethora of health/wealth prosperity false gospel teaching including that of Benny Hinn. Such teaching appeals to the ears of traditional Taiwanese religion which often is mercenary in seeking a tit-for-tat exchange of favors with the god or goddess being worshipped.

There is one good recent development we have heard. The sermons of Rev. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City will be aired. The wife of one of the elders of New Hope, the church we started in Taipei, has been hired to translate the subtitles for Tim Keller's preaching. That's good because she is an excellent translator and would take care to accurately convey the meaning of what is said.

Please pray that there will be an increase of good, Gospel-message, programming on Taiwan's television. Pray that God will use it to open hearts, especially of the elderly who have little contact with Christians as they tend to stay in their homes much of the time.

Please pray for wisdom and skill as we think through and develop good teaching through video.

Please pray that Taiwan's pastors will be positively influenced by seeing good American preachers so that their teaching will be increasingly Christ-centered, Gospel driven, and expository.

Further theological studies
I've also been using my time before we return to Taiwan to do further theological studies. I am taking two classes this fall towards a doctorate of ministry in pastoral leadership at Birmingham Theological Seminary in Alabama. It has been really great getting to know the other pastors in my classes as well as the professors.

with Dr. Eyrich and two of my classmates in biblical counseling. One is a pastor from Tuscaloosa, the other from Huntsville

Dr. Howard Eyrich, one of Briarwood Presbyterian Church's pastors, is teaching both my classes this semester. It is great that I will be able to continue some of my coursework online from Taiwan. Beyond all the coursework and the writing that comes along with it, I intend to do my thesis focused on the special issues and needs of rural and small town churches and rural church planting. I chose this topic because it is often overlooked by church planting conferences and training, yet I plan to target rural areas in Taiwan that have few or no churches. Inspired by Tim Keller's success at planting Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, so many church planters have focussed on city-center urban church planting. However there is also as great a need for rural church planting, and so I hope my thesis will contribute to encouraging others to take up this labor.

Thanks for your continued support and prayers.

In Christ,

Joel (for the Lintons in Taiwan)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pray for Taiwan's children and their parents

Please pray for Taiwan's mothers. There is a reason Taiwan has such a low birthrate -- abortion. To consider how many moms must have taken part in killing their babies is just heart-wrenching. Surely they are facing many deep down heart hurts from this act.

* Here is a link to Ray of Hope, a Christian crisis pregnancy center.
* Here is an article about how Taiwan's teachers are afraid for the future because there are increasingly fewer students each generation.
* Here is an article about how Taiwan's population balance is continuing to shift to a greater number of old people.

Judy has written two books that we hope will influence parents to be willing to have more children. The first one was on infant care; the second on child training.


Following is the article from the Asia Sentinel.

Taiwan's Astonishing Abortion Rate
Written by Jens Kastner
MONDAY, 25 JULY 2011

These made it through

The island’s terminations appear to vastly outnumber live births

For every pregnancy leading to a Taiwanese woman giving birth, a remarkable three are estimated by a Taiwan pediatrician to have been aborted, a figure that others believe isn’t too far from reality.

When on July 17 the veteran National Taiwan University College of Medicine professor and pediatrician Lue Hung-chi told a forum that 300,000 to 500,000 abortions are carried out in Taiwan each year, he was seeking to send alarm bells ringing. If his estimate is true, it has to be one of the highest per-capita abortion rates in the world.

Statistics show that the country has one of the lowest total fertility rates in Asia, apparently driven at least partly by the ready availability of the abortion drug RU-486. The government announced earlier this year that the average number of children a Taiwanese woman would have in her lifetime was the lowest in the island’s history, at 0.91 per woman.

In fact Taiwan’s total fertility rate appears to be the lowest rate any country has recorded anywhere, according to the Population Reference Bureau, although 2010 was an abnormal year, since families were putting off having children because babies born in the Year of the Tiger are thought to be quick-tempered and willful. For whatever reason, the low birthrate was recently declared a national security issue by President Ma Ying-Jeou.

With only 166,000 babies born on the island in 2010, Lue said, the government should act urgently to tighten the island liberal abortion law, which stipulates that a woman can undergo an induced abortion “if the pregnancy adversely affects the psychological or physical health of the woman or her family life.”

Measures should be implemented to encourage people to have children, counseling should be provided and an environment created that facilitates adoption, Lue told Asia Sentinel.

“Children's health care in Taiwan is terribly underfunded. The national health system is not in favor of pediatrics,” Leu said, which he blamed as part of the reason for the low birth rate. “In over 30 percent of Taiwan's towns no pediatrician can be found.”

Lue made it clear that his estimate is just that.

“In Taiwan, there is no solid data available,” he said. “Of course, the figures I mentioned include pregnancies that are ended with the abortion drug RU-486.”

The most recent official data on abortion numbers is over a decade old. In 1999, 42,282 legal abortions were performed compared to 283,661 births. In the absence of authoritative statistics, what's left is anecdotal evidence and assumptions of those who work or do research in the field.

Some believe the figures are lower. Lee Mao-sheng, a professor at Chung Shan Medical University's College of Medicine, believes the figure could be 80,000-100,000 with the number possibly being as high as 150,000 if illegal abortions were counted.

Chao Kun-yu, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Health Promotion, said that including RU486, roughly 240,000 abortions are carried out legally per year. Pan Hun-shan, a physician with the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Shin Kong Wu Ho-su Memorial Hospital, believes the 300,000 to 500,000 figure to be realistic, saying that one to two mothers out of every ten who visited his hospital were there seeking abortions. Pan suspects that the percentage is significantly higher in private clinics.

Taiwan's demographers agree that it's obvious that the birth-abortion ratio is dangerously skewed.

“Demographers in Taiwan can only do their best by conjecture,” Yang Wen-Shan, a professor at Academia Sinica's Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, told said in an interview. “The health authority may have some estimated number of aborted fetuses, but it is never reported in the public domain.”

Every year, Yang aid, “there are around 13,000 births given by teenagers. If 90 percent of the total number of teenage girls who become pregnant would not want to give birth before they enter into marriages, we estimate that there are around 130,000 aborted fetuses by teenagers alone.”

Social demographers commonly conclude that there are around 200,000 abortions in Taiwan annually, and suggested that the 500,000 figure mentioned by pediatrician Lue came about through the estimate that each of the RU486 pills sold is counted as an abortion.

Yang agreed, however, that the high abortion rate for a good part is to blame on the lack of an adequate adoption system.

“Many of my colleagues argue that if the government would change the child adoption system in Taiwan, every year we can save enough babies to make up the deficits of the lowest-low fertility situation,” he said.

“The abortion rates are higher for unmarried women,” he continued.”According to the statistics, approximately 90 percent of them will make a decision to abort the fetus. Also women with higher parity [the number of times a woman has given birth] have higher rate of abortion, women whose husbands have higher socioeconomic status, as well as those of older age that had already given birth to a baby boy.”

Gender-selective abortions -- aborting girls before their would-be mothers had their first boy – has also led to an alarming gender imbalance. The practice, found in much of Asia, is mainly due to the belief that males will carry on the family name. By regional comparison, only South Korea and China account for male-to-female infant ratios roughly as unnatural as that of Taiwan.

In 2010, in Taiwan 1.09 males were born for every one female, while in South Korea and China the figure was 1.07 and 1.133, respectively. Taiwanese health authorities estimate that last year alone more than 3,000 female fetuses were selectively aborted on the island but prosecutors have a hard time fighting the practice because doctors often have blood samples screened by outside laboratories, meaning there is no evidence.

Unlike in the West, abortion has never been a polarizing issue in Taiwan. Neither NGOs nor public advocacy groups vociferously discourage abortion, and even the churches are remarkably quiet. Abortion was legalized in 1985 and has been generally accepted, mainly because of the stigma associated with unwed motherhood. In recent years, however, the prohibiting cost of education is overwhelmingly cited as reasons for couples not wanting children. Some 75 percent of Taiwan's children visit cram schools where tuition fees for one child alone can easily account for 25 percent of a worker's monthly income.

“Taiwan's abortion rate is high mainly because the economic growth rate is low,” said Tim Wang, deputy director of the ruling Kuomintang’s (KMT) Youth Department. “As government debts account for NT$5 trillion [US$173 billion], we can say once the child is born, it owes the country NT$200,000. Under these circumstances, young couples don't want to raise children.”

In the past, to the Taiwanese, as for societies elsewhere, it was the more children, the better. This was because filial support formed the by far most important financial pillar of retirement. But also this rationale to bear offspring has all but ceased to exist.

“Few people regard children as a means of support after retirement. Most Taiwanese who want to have children do so because they love kids,” said Joseph Tien, an assistant professor at Tamkang University's Department of Insurance. Investment-linked insurance has replaced the traditional filial support as the main means to prepare for retirement, he added.

In the eyes of pediatrician Lue, Taiwan's suspected shockingly high abortion rate has to be taken on top-down by Taiwan's policymakers.

“We cannot demand young pregnant women to think of the nation; it's the government that must think of the nation,” Lue said.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Several BBC featurette stories on Taiwanese people with video:

* Street vender
* Tsou Austronesian tea grower
* Big city entrepreneur
* Foreign brides -- immigrants from China and Southeast Asia often move to Taiwan to marry Taiwanese men
* Hoklo Taiwanese -- democracy activist and civil engineering professor

New Report from Thomas and Jennifer McIntyre

Church planting in Zhongpu (中埔) from OMF Taiwan on Vimeo.

This video clip tells about Thomas and Jennifer McIntyre. [http://vimeo.com/31487451] Thomas was my first missionary intern back in 2006 when he was attending Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Since then, Thomas finished seminary, got married, and was ordained. They moved to Taiwan, learned Taiwanese, had a baby, and finally have begun a church-planting work in a rural area of central Taiwan.

Here is an articles from the archives about when Thomas was a missionary intern.

surveying a region of the countryside

For general information on missionary internships, please take a look at:

If you look at the following map, ChungPu Township is labeled as number 201. The statistics are current through 2006, but do not include any changes in the last five years. Chungpu is shown as falling in the range of having 1 church per twenty thousand - thirty thousand people.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lord God, increase our love we pray.

Christians in local churches all over the world experience a similar root problem that causes them to be relatively ineffective and unproductive in their lives this side of Heaven. That problem is stated clearly in a recent article by Rev. Tim Barton, "God is never going to change in His love but our love for Him is always in danger of fading."

Please pray for the Christians in Taiwan. Pray that their love grown cold will be kindled anew. Pray likewise and especially for the pastors and missionaries laboring in Taiwan, that they will lead by the example of their own hearts.

Following is a slightly edited version Tim Barton's article. (Emphasis added.)

On our Love for God

When Jesus summed up the entire Old Testament law in two short phrases, it was truly an astonishing thing. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as you love yourself. On these hang all the law and the prophets.”

God has loved His people with an ever-lasting love. If you have put your trust in Christ, you are His. That means you have voluntarily placed yourself into His hands to love you and care for you forever and have declared that He is your God and Savior.

But always in the minds of believers is “How do I show my love for God?” It is a wonderful desire to have. How do we demonstrate love for God? Because if our love for God is not exhibited openly, freely and without restraint...if we hold back...our love will wither like a fading flower.

I believe this is why the Old Testament book of Malachi was written. The love of God’s people was fading. And it is the greatest challenge for the Modern Church. God is never going to change in His love but our love for Him is always in danger of fading.

I encourage you to read and re-read Malachi. It only takes a few minutes, as it is only four chapters or three pages long. I don’t know of any prophecy that is more relevant for the Church today.

By the time this little prophecy was written, the Jews had already been carried away into exile and returned to Jerusalem. Israel, as their forefathers had known it, was long gone. But they were back in Jerusalem, trying in their limited ways to carry on the religious traditions of the past. They really weren’t practicing any of the idolatry of their ancestors. They were orthodox in their beliefs. But they did not love God with all their heart. They consistently held back in their expressions of worship and love for God, and consequently they did not love their fellow man very well either.

That’s what I mean when I say it is a book for today’s church. Even in churches with the most Biblical theology, there seems to be an epidemic of holding back. Over and over people who profess faith in Christ refuse to simply open their hearts and love God with all of it.

You need to learn what opening your heart to God looks like in a normal Christian life and I hope to show you why we should love Him with all of our heart.

If you want a sneak preview, it is this: you should love God because He loved you first and gave his Son as the atoning sacrifice for your sins (1 John 4:10-11).

By Tim Barton

Tim Barton is the founding pastor of Jordan Presbyterian Church in West Jordan, Utah