“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8
Taiwan, as a country, turns 101 years old today! I’ve known her personally for just 3 of those 101 years, but living here has brought real joy to my life! Today as I reflected, I considered how my evolving relationship with Taiwan is similar to the way many people come to know Jesus.
THE EARLY DAYS—there was a time in my life when EVERYTHING I knew about Taiwan was silly & wrong! My few childhood recollections of this little island are comprised almost entirely of jokes about how “everything” was “Made in Taiwan.” (Ironically, a few years ago, I bought a souvenir here, only to take it back to the states and discover it was “Made in the U.S.A.”) I remember once my Memaw (grandmother) and I tried to find Taiwan in her old atlas (book of maps), but we couldn’t even find it—until we flipped to the “F” section for “forget about it!” and stumbled upon “Formosa.” What little I knew of Taiwan, for most of my life, was based largely on second hand bias & idle talk.
Likewise, often when I talk with people about Jesus, I soon discover they have formed many perceptions based largely on misrepresentations of the Christian faith. A large part of my sharing the “good news” of Jesus is simply opening up the Bible with friends and saying, “No actually…this is who Jesus is, and this is what he said, and this is how we live, and this is how we love…”
WE MET THROUGH A FRIEND—I was first introduced to the “True Taiwan” through my Taiwanese friend (and college roommate) Eric (aka “Chi”). Eric became my very close brother, and I naturally wanted to know the place he came from, the world that had shaped him. I could have read a lot of facts about Taiwan in a book, but coming to know Taiwan through Eric helped Taiwan come alive to me! We often talked of his life in Taiwan, and when family care packages came in the mail, he’d dare me to eat dried fish, squid, pork jerky, and seaweed. I tried using chopsticks a few times, and we even had a life size poster of Yao Ming hanging in our bathroom! (Try peeing with him looking over your shoulder!) As my friendship with Eric grew, my love for Taiwan grew, and he quickly corrected my silly misperceptions! Of course, a few of us did conspire to make Eric a shirt that said, “Made in Taiwan” and he was nice enough to wear it once or twice.
This is often how people come to know Jesus—they meet through a friend who is already living life “in Jesus.” This friendship is often the safe context where questions can be asked, life can be shared, and perceptions can be challenged. Some of my friends still call me “preacher boy” on occasion, but hopefully they are seeing (imperfectly) the “Real Jesus” in me.
SEE FOR MYSELF—I’ll never forget the day. It was in August 2006. I was sitting in my living room (in Texas), the phone rang, and Eric said, “Do you want to come to Taiwan for two weeks?” An hour later I had booked a flight! Finally, at age 25, I was on my way to explore Taiwan for myself—to taste and see the hidden riches of this ancient island reborn. I would not be disappointed. In fact, I told God later, that if he ever wanted me to, I’d live here!
God invites us to “taste and see” for ourselves that He is good. The Bible says Christ is the eternal “Ancient of Days” and that in him are hidden the secret riches of “wisdom and knowledge” which can lead us to a faith that becomes our “rebirth.”
HOME SWEET HOME—you may call it chance, or fate, or coincidence—I simply trust it was the providence of God. One day, in 2009, I typed into the internet search engine, “Church looking for pastor” and this little church (www.calvarytaipei.org ) in Taiwan showed up on the map, needing a pastor. I sent in my resume, which I’m sure read loudly, “Desperate pastor looking for church,” and I’ve been here now, for over three years! Taiwan is my home sweet home—“my refuge”—the place I live, work, play, and share the good news. It’s the little piece of God’s green earth where I worship Him on a “moment-to-moment” basis. I love driving my scooter through lush green mountains, gazing out into endless blue oceans, resting on tropical beaches, eating insanely delicious foods, and spending time with dearly loved friends and family.
This little island sanctuary truly brings me much joy! Happy Birthday TW and Thank You Jesus…I’ve really got it “made—in Taiwan!”