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Spreading Christ in a Buddhist Nation: Her Smile Says It All

03-27-2017
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Little Girl Heart Taiwan Church

The island of Taiwan is a popular tourist destination for Americans.

The small island nation near the Yangtze River has a unique culture and people. Emperors' treasures and tradition beckon tourists from all over the world to Taiwan.

Buddhism and Daoism are its major religions. Many believe those gods can provide them with inner peace and guaranteed success at work and home. 

Ting Van Hofwegen is a Taiwanese Christian. She told CBN News, "Most of the people don't know what they are looking for. When we go to temple, we just follow the tradition or the custom to get 'luck' and want to be blessed by the gods there."

Temples in Taiwan are full of magical charms, ornate designs, and traditional symbols. 

Churches are hard to find in the Northeast region of the island, and Christianity is nearly nonexistent. 

Of Taiwan's 23 million people, only six percent are Christians. More than 28 percent follow Buddhism. Less than three percent claim no religion at all.

Tourist Visit Turns into Full-Time Ministry

American couple Richard Roberts and his wife Jessie visited Taiwan for the first time in 2004. When they realized most of the population had never heard of Jesus, they decided to move to Taiwan to share the gospel. 

"They don't have a lot of information on Christ and how Christ is the savior, and can be there salvation," Roberts said. 

After some research, they made a big decision: they would plant churches for Jesus in Taiwan.

Roberts also decided they would share the gospel in homes, schools, libraries everywhere they could think of  just to let people see Jesus in them.

Roberts familiarized himself with the local people, telling them about Jesus. He and a team of American Christians traveled from one place to another to recruit more helpers.

Currently, they have nine missionaries working with them. They hope to have more missionaries join them. 

"They could teach English, they could play games. The goal eventually is to bring them to a church that we planted, through friendships," he said. 

Showing Taiwanese that Jesus Does Not Belong Only to "The West"

Richards' daughter, Sarah Yang, is excited to serve Jesus in Taiwan. 

 "I get to wake up every day and participate in the things that God has been doing in our lives. They were not boring stuff. I'm very happy that God gave me peace about that in my heart. We were to do what He's calling us to do. That made me really excited!" Yang said. 

Gradually, younger Taiwanese are experiencing church. For many of them, Jesus only belongs to "the West." 

Some Americans have left their homes and assist in the mission. 

"This is not South Georgia; I said, 'Okay, God, I am being called to the Asian people. I love it here. I love the culture and love the people," said Lisa Buice, the children's ministry coordinator. 

Following the Dream to Minister in Taiwan

Lisa and her team often play games and share food with the kids. The children always have a great time. 

Over time, the church began to develop bigger goals. They started to recruit students from U.S. colleges and universities. American students were inspired by the Robertses, and believe the Lord put them in this ministry for special purposes.

"God gave me a dream to come to Taiwan. I need to go to Taiwan. And it's kind of silly not to follow God, right?" said Scott Lusher who serves as an English teacher. 

The staff believes this is an opportune time for the Taiwanese people to hear about Christ. 

"The gospel is really important here because people are lost. They might do kind acts because they think that will get them into heaven. But without Jesus and proclaiming that He is their savior, that won't do them any good. It's hurtful to see people, how they believe they will go to heaven, and in the end, they might not," said Violet Spain.

Roberts and the team press on, believing prayer and hard work will change lives of millions in Taiwan.

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