|Republic of China|
Area 36,000 sq.km. A mountainous island 160km east of mainland China together with the Penghu archipelago and the islands of Matsu and Quemoy close to the mainland.
Two million refugees from mainland China arrived 1945-1950.
Capital Taipei 7,350,000. Other major city:
Kaohsiung 2,150,000. Urbanites 75%.
Han Chinese 97.3%. Speaking 3 major languages.
Taiwanese (Hoklo, Minnan) 66.7%. Settled in Taiwan for 300 years.
Hakka 10%. Settled in Taiwan for 200 years.
Mandarin 20.6%. Refugees from mainland China 1945-50. Almost entirely urban.
Malayo-Polynesian mountain peoples 1.7%.Ten groups totalling 384,000, largest: Amis(2) 154,000; Paiwan 67,000; Tayal 54,000; Bunun 43,000; Sediq (Taroko) 33,000; Pyuma 10,000; Rukai 9,000; Yami 3,400.
Other 1%. Thai 100,000; Filipino 80,000; Westerners 25,000; Malay 11,000; Japanese 10,000.
Literacy 94%. Official language and language of education: Mandarin. Hoklo and Hakka are widely spoken. All languages 22. Languages with Scriptures 5Bi 6NT 3w.i.p.
Rapid industrialization and economic growth to become one of the world's most dynamic export-oriented economies of the world. Public debt none. Income/person $13,900 (44% of USA).
Under Japanese rule 1895-1945, then reverting to China. After the fall of mainland China to the Communists in 1949, Taiwan became the refuge of the Nationalist Chinese government, which claimed to represent all China. This led to international diplomatic isolation and internal political polarization between the mainlanders and many of the indigenous Taiwanese on the issue of continuing as part of greater China or as an independent nation. Taiwan was, in effect, a mainlander-dominated one-party republic until the 1987 elections. It is now a multi-party democracy. The possibility of Taiwan becoming a separate state has heightened Mainland Chinese military and diplomatic pressures on the Islanders. Taiwan remains an unresolved diplomatic 'hot potato'.
Secular state with freedom of religion. The great majority of the population follow the unique Chinese blend of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Buddhism has grown markedly in influence and numbers.
1 The elections in 2000 resulted in a Taiwanese majority government that openly spoke of possible independence. The great hostility of Mainland China to any change in the present ambiguous international status of the government could lead to war. Pray for wisdom and restraint for all Taiwanese, Chinese and international leaders involved.
3 Taiwan remains the only major Han Chinese population in the world where the spiritual breakthrough has yet to come. During the 1990s the influence of Buddhism grew markedly with a large increase in adherents (800,000 in 1983 to 4.9m in 1995). Many of their outreach techniques have been adapted from Christians. Ancestor worship is one of the major barriers to faith in Christ. Added to this is the materialism stimulated by the rapid rise of living standards. Pray that every obstacle to the reception of the gospel may be broken down.
4 The September 1999 earthquake left 2,400 dead, 43,000 homes destroyed and many people distressed and fearful. Pray that this and the uncertainty about the future may create a greater openness for the gospel and significant church growth. Chinese Christian Relief Association did much to coordinate and spearhead aid teams for the subsequent three years of rehabilitation. Pray for lasting spiritual results both among Christians and those they seek to help.
5 The Presbyterians pioneered ministry since 1865, but only saw significant breakthroughs among the Taiwanese in the 1930s and among the mountain people after 1940. Many other missions moved to Taiwan after the fall of the mainland to Communism, and among the 2 million mainland refugees there was a time of harvest. Between 1960 and 1990 there was stagnation. Catholics and some Protestant denominations even declined as a percentage of the national population. Only in the 1990s has some growth resumed. The major challenges to be faced by the Church are:
a) Spiritual power to stand against gambling, entrenched ancestor worship, rising materialism and aggressive opposition from non-Christian religions. Many Christians are still in bondage to, or in fear of, these things.
d) The great disparity in ethnic distribution of Christians. The mountain peoples are largely Christian, but only 23% actively so. Nominalism is a problem. Those of mainlander descent are nearly 5% Christian, but the Taiwanese majority only 1% and the Hakka 0.3%. The Church needs to tackle the social and cultural barriers that hinder the progress of the gospel. The Church is perceived to be intellectual (37% of members are graduates) and not relevant to the majority.
6 The Year 2000 Gospel Movement (Y2GM) was formed in 1987. The vision was to: ensure church planting was initiated in every social group; renew existing churches; see 10,000 churches planted, 2 million new Christians, and 200 cross-cultural missionaries sent out, by 2000. Much was achieved, but though growth and outreach expanded, these goals were only partially realized. For the new millennium, the trans-denominational body is changing its name to the Chinese Church Evangelistic Association. Pray for unity, commitment and enthusiasm to see these goals accomplished.
7 There are over 650 mountain churches throughout the tribal areas and some in cities. Most are Presbyterian, though an increasing number are of other denominations or sectarian groups such as True Jesus and Mormons. The breakdown of tribal and family life has been hastened by alcoholism, the drift to the cities, the pervasive influence of TV, increased levels of education of young people, and inability of parents to control and raise their children in a changing society. God gave revival to the Tayal in 1973 and Amis in 1983. Pray for revival that will combat nominalism, spiritual decline and inadequate Bible teaching in these churches. Bible translation work is not yet complete in two languages there is a definite need, and in two others a possible need, but work is in progress only in the Yami language on Orchid Island.
8 The lack of pastors is serious, but slowly improving. Many rural congregations in Taiwan are without pastors, the critical issue being low levels of giving in churches. There are over 33 seminaries and Bible schools, some with international acclaim, such as the China Evangelical Seminary as well as a number of TEE programmes. Pray for staff and students, and for relevant, spiritual training to be provided. There is need for good Bible teachers and effective evangelists who know their cultures and how to relate Scriptures to the root issues that hinder advance and growth.
9 The witness among students is important. The one million students in 141 universities and colleges are marginally more responsive. Many churches have well-used student centres. Campus Evangelical Fellowship (IFES) has an outreach to students with 40 full-time staff workers ministering also in secondary schools. CCCI also has a large campus ministry. It is now permitted to form Christian groups in some middle and high schools. Pray that this golden opportunity may be taken up and for vital, growing groups with the integration of young believers into churches.
10 Mission vision languished as Taiwan's diplomatic isolation increased. There has been increased interest in the 1990s. Student missions conferences have created much interest (CEF-IFES). The Y2GM, together with WBT and OMF have facilitated short-term mission tours. Cross-cultural training programmes have slowly increased and the number of candidates is rising, though many churches are more willing to give finances rather than their members for missions. Pray that this renewed vision might flourish.
11 Expatriate missionary numbers have declined, but there remain many areas of input needed evangelism, church planting, Bible teaching, teaching English, etc. Some of the largest agencies are: OMF (63 workers), YWAM (56), TEAM (41), CCCC (39), CBI (38), OMS (33), Navigators (27), SEND (25), CMA (24), Finnish Lutheran Mission (24), LCMS (20), AoG (19).>
a) The Taiwanese working class are linguistically (Hoklo/Hokkien) and culturally separated from the majority of evangelical churches which use Mandarin. They comprise 60% of the population and there are few churches or workers specifically reaching out to them.
b) The Hakka communities in the north-east and south-east. There is now a national group concerned for outreach: 'The World Hakka Evangelical Association'. Several missions have opened a ministry among them (SEND, WEC, YWAM, Presbyterians and others). There are now about 70 Hakka-speaking churches.
a) Christian literature. Much is now being published of both local and foreign origin. Pray for efforts by CEF(IFES) and others to sell Christian literature through the secular book market. EHC is in its fifth nation-wide distribution of evangelistic literature.
b) Christian radio was pioneered by the Pocket Testament League in 1951. Now much is done by the Lutherans, Baptists, TEAM, etc. There are also international broadcasters both FEBC and TWR with many hours in Mandarin, and TWR 3.5 hrs/wk in Hakka.
c) Christian film and video. Most of the population have video recorders. Increasing numbers of agencies are producing good video material. The JESUS film has been widely used on television and film. Pray for life-changing impact.
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