Mike Bell from Internet Monk has this blog “Where do I belong?” which is the first of a series on the subject of “Community”. This blog focused on how we can find a church community that is a good fit theologically. Through answering the questionnaires recommended in Mike’s blog, I found that: (more…)
In this article “We don’t believe in the term ‘superhead’ – the disadvantaged don’t need rescuing”, Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis charity and academy chain, wrote:
Oasis does not believe in a culture of “them” and “us”, “hero” and “rescue”. This shallow rhetoric, which sadly still creeps into the language of some educationalists is, for all its good intentions, rooted in the same soil as “poverty porn”. It leaves people feeling disenfranchised and has the power to stigmatise whole communities.
At Oasis, we often say that we never come to do things “for” people, which patronises them. Or “to” people, which disempowers them, but always “with” people – only this will empower them. We are not the hero who rides in over the hill to turn things around.
This remind me of how we serve the community — “with” people. (more…)
Since I am a layperson, I was reluctant to discuss the sermons preached from the pastors openly; particularly those involved in politics and doctrines. Now, I was retired for five years and approaching seventies, the inner voice told me that I can talk openly in a way not to offend people. So, here I am. (more…)
We chose Gospel of Mark as the weekly reading for the Out-Reach Small Group. Why? Here are five reasons:
- The writer of “Mark” who first put the words, works and last week of Jesus’ life into a coherent whole.
- It is the earliest of the four Gospels and is the closest to Jesus’s time.
- It is the rawest of the gospels. It is the most unpolished, with a lot of rough edges.
- It is the most focused of the gospels.
- Mark is the shortest gospel.
The focus is to portrait Jesus as the “suffering Messiah”, and the “servant savior”.
Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believe and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” Mark 16: 15-16.
It is the duty of our Christians to go out, reach many non-believers and let them know the good news so that they can be transformed and saved from the sins of this world. With this in mind, Ruth asked me to co-host an “Out-Reach Small Group” in Sunday night from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm. She also asked three Church sisters to join so that they can learn how to host a small group in the future. (more…)
The world is experiencing unprecedented suffering and wounds. As followers of Christ, we are called to respond. People caring for people is not a new concept and the Bible is replete with illustrations of caring acts that are similar to what is known today as counseling. In today’s world this work is also known as pastoral care, spiritual direction, psychotherapy, coaching, mentoring, social work, crisis intervention, trauma treatment and more. Some focus on ministering to the needs of Christians. Others are using their God-given gifts to reach out to all those in need of care and counsel. (more…)
The children in Guogou Church’s nearby communities were admitted to the Church’s after-school tutoring program by a selection process because of the limited resources. The selection criteria include (1) single parent, (2) foreign spouse, (3) family heads by grand-parents and (4) low-income. Some of the children had bad behaviors and/or deviate value systems. The families of the admitted children may have other needs and problems that were unknown by the people outside. As the community church, we feel a burden to get to know these families better so that we can help them to overcome their problems.
“Ever Green” small group in Guoguo Church consists of the elderly villagers from the local community. The group had grown to over 20 members and meet weekly to engage various activities, including art crafts, drama, painting, flower arranging, baking and outdoors, etc. Most of them are not baptized and this group is an out-reach effort of the Church.
On Wednesday (5/15) morning, the group visited a fishing pond in Augo Wet-Land Forest Park, north of Donshih Township. The 16 elders, Ruth, her son Carl, the tour guide and myself traveled with four cars. I drove the Camry with the men. The weather is warm and breezing with some clouds. (more…)
The remarkable accomplishment of a great humanist, José Antonio Abreu, who dedicated his life to set up the ‘Sistema’ in 1975, an extraordinary music and social project which has been running in Venezuela in an attempt to transform the lives of the nations poorest children. (more…)
[Written by Fanny Liao]
Shortly after I arrived at Guogou, the Principal and three teachers from I-Zhu middle school visited me at the Center. They invited me to join the School’s “Science Laboratory Program” that was funded recently. Particularly, they wanted me to design a 10 weeks laboratory classes/experiments for the 7th graders.
In a follow-up visit to the School laboratory, I found they only had limited resources — out of date instruments, equipment and glassware sets. Added to these is the limited budget. I searched the web sites and found that 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry and the designed laboratory program fits the School’s low budget. After discussing with the teachers and the Principal, we designed and implemented a 10 weeks classes/experiments. The students were in high spirits and learned a lot. Since this program is a trial and only selected students were attended. I hope the School can expand this program to all students. (more…)
Yesterday morning (8/27) was sort of cloudy and mild temperature. The movement of typhoon “tembin” 天秤 is still uncertain. I decided to try a bike ride to Budai. On the way to Budai, I took some photos of the landmark sites, government buildings and the temples. On the way back, I did not stop to take photos in order to estimate the time of the biking. It was a short ride of about 30 minutes with a moderate speed. There were not many people or vehicles on the road and the ride was pleasant.(more…)
By God’s grace and blessing, the violin class was started at Guogou Church. We purchased six violins (four ¾ size and two ½ size) from Classic (經典樂器), a music shop and studio at Putze (朴子), Chiayi (嘉義). I am deeply appreciated the financial contributions from Amy and Dr. Carl Chen, Dorothy and Ed Hsia, and Mr. & Mrs. Chen (陳銀河先生和夫人) that helped this missionary work. Special thanks to Dorothy, our spiritual teacher for her praying and blessing on our mission. I am also grateful to Elder Tsai (蔡明憲長老) at SongShan Presbyterian Church (松山長老教會), who donated two violins. The last but not the least, Ruth Young and Steven Hsu from Ruth Care and Development Association (路得關懷協會) provided the classroom, the students and my teaching assistant, Ms. Fanny Liao. (more…)
Violins are delicate instruments that need good maintenance and repairs from skillful luthiers. In my childhood, my father bought a violin that was stored in a warehouse for decades. The body was separated due to the high humidity and it was without strings, bridge and the pegs. (more…)
Amazing Grace Choir just completed the afternoon performance at Tai-Dong Wu-Lin jail and were waiting for the bus to come to pick up for dinner. We were scattered around, enjoyed the surrounding scenery and tried to relax. (more…)
These YouTube video clips were recorded during the “A Peaceful Night of July” out reach (平安七月夜佈道會) on August 13, 2011 at the town center of Guogou Village, Chiayi, Taiwan. This event was a joint effort by the Evangelical Team of Seattle Formosan Christian Church (SFCC) and the Guogou Church. (more…)
Last year, I visited Guogou church for one month in June. There were festivals to celebrate the local deities. One day, I watched eight buses loaded with tourists drove by and curious about what happened. The villagers told me these tourists were from other towns, some were from far away to join the celebration. Later, I saw parades in different days on different streets. They told me each parade was for the deity in that surrounding area. I took some pictures without knowing what are those deities
Teaching and learning occupied a large fraction of my retirement life: after-school tutoring, church bible schooling, church counseling, small group studying, chamber music rehearsing and choir practicing, etc. My children had graduated from the universities and are working now. Thinking back on my parenting, it could be better. Reading “Time” magazine on January 31, 2011 issue, with the cover page – “The Truth about Tiger Moms”, my already archived childhood memories were brought back fresh, almost. (more…)
[2 ] Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. [3 ] In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. [5 ] One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. [6 ] When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (more…)
Saddleback Church has an excellent church counseling program and offered training for the members who wants to be church counselors. My wife, Betty and I attended the 30-week long counseling class and received the certificates in 2008. We have not pursued afterwards to actually practice counseling because of time requirement and uncertain of our abilities.
My NTU classmate, Dr. Tu encouraged me to involve in the counseling programs whenever I visit Taiwan and got me connected with Sulian Chen, the secretary general of an association actively operating a jail ministry (中華民國矯正機關收容人關懷協會). Though jail ministry is not my original intent in counseling, I was attracted by the enthusiasm, the professionalism and the Christian love radiated from Sulian. Consequently, I worked with Sulian in jail ministry for three weeks, two whole days per week mainly in Yunlin jail. (more…)
I traveled to Taiwan on May 19 to visit my mother and to take care of personal matters. Along with it, I visited Guogou Center again. During Ruth and Steven’s tour of Southern California in March, they visited the families of our Saddleback P.E.A.C.E. team members. At that time, we planned another Gougou visit in May/June 2010. (more…)
Routines were back on Tuesday (2/2), most of which were after-school tutoring. Pastor Shulin and I went to Budai Fishing Market to buy goods for gifts. Along the way, we shared on the visions of Gospel in the countryside. (more…)
In the morning of January 29 (Friday), members from Budai Presbyterian church joined us in the weekly Bible study. We studied the Gospel of Luke, Chapters 7 and 8. In the studies, the sisters shared many stories of the villagers who suffered “depressions.” We felt a strong need of taking care of these people and also to bring in helps from the outsides.
On Tuesday (1/26), Ruth and I visited Tai-Si Christian Church and observed their tutoring program. Tai-Si is in 雲林 County, about half an hour’s drive from Guogou. We drove along highway 61 which is the high speed route near the west coast. These areas are among the poorest region in Taiwan. Along the road, we saw wind turbines for generating electricity (not in operation yet). Then, there are so many fish farms besides vegetable fields. (more…)
I had an ear-infection. In the morning of January 23 (Saturday), Ruth took me to Chang-Gung (長庚) Hospital for treatment on the way to pick up Ms. Liao (Yichia) at HSR station. I was very impressed with the buildings/facilities of the hospital. The doctor and nurse were very kindly and professional. (more…)
I spent time to prepare lectures and teaching materials on Tuesday (1/19). In the morning, I walked around the neighborhood farmland. There are many kinds of vegetables and crops. Birds rested on the trees, plants and fields. Groundwater was pumped to irrigate the field. (more…)
To follow up the previous Saddleback mission trip to Gougou, I requested another visit at the center to learn more about the missionary works here. I arrived at the center in the afternoon of January 15 and received a warm welcome from Ruth and her coworkers. At 4:00 pm, Ruth arranged a meeting for me with Mr. Liu, the Principal and Ms. Lin the Counselor of Guogou High School. They invited me to present a lecture on chemistry related topic on January 22 and another lecture on my life story on January 26. (more…)
Mature Camp (From November 10 to November 15, 2009)
This Saturday morning, Pastor Chen continued discussion on the Spiritual aspects of Village Gospel Mission. He pointed out that the villagers have different concept on “decision” prayer in accepting Jesus. Their concept is that he will do it this time but he may change later. Therefore, the conversion process is not a one time event. This behavior may be deeply rooted in the ways of traditional temple worship. (more…)