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Where do I belong?

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…)

How Do We Serve the Community?

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…)

What “Gospel” are we preaching?

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…)

Why Gospel of Mark?

We chose Gospel of Mark as the weekly reading for the Out-Reach Small Group. Why? Here are five reasons:

  1. The writer of “Mark” who first put the words, works and last week of Jesus’ life into a coherent whole.
  2. It is the earliest of the four Gospels and is the closest to Jesus’s time.
  3. It is the rawest of the gospels. It is the most unpolished, with a lot of rough edges.
  4. It is the most focused of the gospels.
  5. Mark is the shortest gospel.

The focus is to portrait Jesus as the “suffering Messiah”, and the “servant savior”.

Out-Reach Small Group

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…)

COUNSELING AS MISSION 宣教中的諮詢

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…)

Community Care and Support

Background

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.

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May 5th Concert: Tunghai University Christian Church Orchestra and Choir

Tunghai University Christian Church (東海大學路思義教堂) Orchestra and Choir held a concert at Guogou Elementary School Auditorium on May 5, from 4:00 pm to 5:20 pm. This is their first countryside outreach event and the purpose is to celebrate Mother’s day with the community.  (more…)

Experiencing Fish Farming

“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…)

Violin Class for Disadvantaged Children

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…)

將一顆藝術的種子埋在鄉村

[Written by Fanny Liao]

台灣路得關懷發展協會(簡稱路得協會)為關懷嘉義偏遠海區,於98年設立後,致力於照顧弱勢家庭學生之課業,協會長期辦理課後照顧班,對象從小學、國中、高中皆為服務對象,很多參加課輔孩子因家境清寒,沒有營養均衡的晚餐可吃,為了照顧這些清寒孩子的需要,協會免費準備豐盛的晚餐讓孩子享受到家庭的溫暖。為了讓偏鄉孩子在漫長暑假有多元的學習機會,協會長期辦理雙語營、夏令營,並邀請來自全台各地甚至遠從美國的年輕人,讓這些孩子享受活潑多元有趣的暑假生活。為提升社區居民學習風氣且提供社區孩童、成人有閱讀學習的空間,協會辦理婦女讀書會、長春成長班、婦女海韻合唱團,讓社區民眾有機會學到不同的才藝。

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Guogou “Lucky Cake” 過溝”福餅”

過溝福餅緣由

過溝莊位於美麗的嘉南平原最西邊,含布袋鎮的三個里,一百多年前是台灣數一數二的大莊,出了不少文人雅士,居民對過溝輝煌的歷史頗為自豪。由於社會的變遷,鄉村年輕人紛紛到都市求學就業,目前留在鄉村的居民以年長者與孩童居多。過溝臨近的村莊有東石鄉的栗子崙、塭仔、網寮、白水湖、掌潭,居民以養殖、務農、剝蚵為業。附近的鰲鼓濕地生態資源豐富,是全國最佳賞鳥景點。 (more…)

Class Outline

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…)

Bike Ride to Budai

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.

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Violin Class at Guogou Church

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…)

Care of Violins

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…)

Father and Son

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…)

“A Peaceful Night of July”

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…)

Taiwan Folk Religion

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

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Preparing Our Children for the Future

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…)

“Do you want to be healed?”

[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…)

Taiwan Jail Ministry

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…)

Gougou Center Visit May/June 2010

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…)

Guogou Center Visit – February 2 through February 5, 2010

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…)

Guogou Center Visit – January 29 through January 31, 2010

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.

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Guogou Center Visit – January 26 through January 28, 2010

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…)

Guogou Center Visit – January 23 through January 25, 2010

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…)

Gougou Center Visit — January 19 through January 22

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…)

Guogou Center Visit — January 15 through January 17

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…)

Village Gospel Mission — 11/14/09 to 11/15/09

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…)