The majority of Taiwan’s population of 23 million are adherents of a combination of polytheistic ancient Chinese religion, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. According to this set of beliefs there is a God for almost every aspect of life. Roughly five per cent of the population of Taiwan are Christians. There are six Lutheran churches, in the country, with roughly 12,000 members.
There are no restrictions on proclamation work in Taiwan and the state values the diaconal work of the Taiwan Lutheran Church (FELM’s partner organisation in Taiwan).
The Taiwan Lutheran Church is financially independent, however, FELM supports individual projects and provides human resources. FELM workers are involved in youth work, proclamation work and work among immigrants.
The foundations of the Church’s work are church services, home visits, Sunday schools, women’s and young people’s groups and English language groups. In the larger churches there are also cell groups, which are an effective form of outreach.
The Chinese Lutheran Seminary in Hsinchu trains workers and laypersons for the six Lutheran churches in Taiwan. The training of laypersons is particularly important, at present, as the Lutheran churches are suffering a worker shortage. The work of the 40 year old seminary is supported by FELM.
The Taiwan Lutheran Church’s radio centre in Chaochou City broadcasts Christian radio programmes to the southern areas of the the island in the Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese and Haka languages. Radio workers also do community work and visit schools and prisons.
FELM workers are also active in spiritual work as part of the activities of the Chinese Christian Medical Mission in Taiwan. This work focuses on helping immigrants.
Drug use is a serious problem in Taiwan. One reason for this is the competitive nature of Taiwanese society, which values money and success. Those that fall behind in the race for success are left in a precarious situation. There are also large amounts of money to be made in the drugs trade, which is a temptation for some. The Church’s first drug rehabilitation centre, the Five Winds Boarding House was established in 1992.
There are now two centres that work with drug and alcohol addicts. Many of those who have successfully completed the rehabilitation process work at the centres as small group leaders. Christian drug rehabilitation work has been recognised and valued by the Taiwanese government, who have also provided financial support to the two centres. The alarming growth in the numbers of disaffected youth in Taiwan has presented the Church with a new challenge. There are three shelters that work with the country’s disaffected young people.
Senegalese families are typically large and paying for the education of children can be challenging. FELM sponsorship funds support the education of those who would not otherwise be able to attend school. Support is provided from primary school through to university.