Tag Archives: St. John’s University SJU Taiwan

Easter Joy! ❤️🐣🌼

Easter Greetings to you all, if a little late! Christ is risen, alleluia!

Out today, lily down at the beach below St. John’s University!

Lent has felt extra-long this year, particularly because of the tragic war in Ukraine – now on its 54th day, but also the pandemic – with lockdowns in China and Hong Kong. Purple is always the colour associated with Lent, symbolizing repentance, royalty, shedding of blood. This is our local purple wisteria, always in flower at the beginning of April…

Here at Advent Church, we celebrated Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey as people lined the streets waving palm branches, shouting Hosanna, welcoming him as king. It was last Sunday, April 10 ….

We had a procession waving palm branches going from Advent Church around St. John’s University (SJU) main entrance…

During Holy Week, SJU students had their mid-term exams, so we rearranged some of our usual Holy Week activities. On Maundy Thursday we remembered Jesus celebrating Passover and sharing the Last Supper with his disciples, also washing their feet ~ so we had foot-washing, Holy Communion and then the stripping of the altar, ready for Good Friday ….

On Good Friday, we remembered Jesus’ crucifixion with midday prayers around the cross …

On Easter Eve, I was at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei for the Easter Vigil, when we lit the Easter fire and celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a traditional and very meaningful time for baptisms, with the symbolism of new life, new creation. I was invited by my good friend, Sheerah to witness the baptism of baby Eva and her husband, Yu-Wei’s confirmation. Big brother Ethan kept us all entertained! There was one other child baptized and nine confirmed. Congratulations to them all ~ and thanks be to God!

Baptisms and Confirmations at St. John’s Cathedral, Easter Vigil

On Easter Day at the cathedral, after the English service, we had a rare treat of hot cross buns, kindly baked by one of the congregation, so delicious!

Meanwhile, here at Advent Church, our 3 Easter baptisms were held during the service on Easter Day. One was Mei-Chin, who came to study here from Malaysia some 8 years ago, among the first group of Malaysian students at SJU. She also took part in one of our short-term mission trips to Myanmar some years ago. Finally, she has made the great decision to be baptized, ah we are all so pleased! New life in Christ ~ thanks be to God!

Our Easter celebrations take place in the midst of a big rise in Covid cases in Taiwan. Today, Monday April 18, we have 1,390 new domestic COVID-19 cases, a new record high. Every day for the last 4 days we have seen a new ‘record high’ ~ but so far, the growth has not been exponential, it’s going up by about 100-200 a day. Today’s figures: New Taipei City (that’s us!): 500, Taipei City: 270, Taoyuan: 187, Keelung: 115, Yilan County: 68. That’s all the north of Taiwan. Taiwan also reported 90 new imported cases today, 63 of them travelers who tested positive on arrival in Taiwan. The number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths remains at 854.

From New Bloom: “Taiwan is experiencing its second major COVID-19 outbreak. The first outbreak began last year in May, after more than a year in which Taiwan was largely COVID-free. However, Taiwan is currently transitioning away from the COVID-zero approach it maintained for most of the pandemic to date. This is partly to reconnect with the international world, for the sake of the economy, but also is carried out noting how efforts to maintain COVID-zero approaches indefinitely in China and Hong Kong have led to explosive spikes in COVID-19 cases recently.”

“It was never an issue of maintaining COVID-zero forever, but what proves concerning for Taiwan is that first dose vaccination peaked just past 80%, with elderly individuals remaining hesitant to get vaccinated. In March, only 75.5% of individuals above 75 had one dose of vaccination, 69.9% had two doses, and 50.1% had received booster shots….. The Tsai administration has spoken of a “new Taiwan model” to transition back to normalcy. The CECC has also sought to emphasize that its goals are no longer “COVID-zero” but “zero COVID” for serious cases, with priority on avoiding overburdening Taiwan’s hospital system. As such, home quarantine rules have loosened to allow for home quarantine for light and mild cases under 65.”

Most of our church events for Holy Week and Easter went on as planned, though with fewer people due to this sudden surge, but future events are less certain. The good news is that despite 25% of over-75’s being unvaccinated (and many confined to their homes for that very reason), very few people in the active population aged between 12-75 are unvaccinated. With cases increasing relatively slowly, the government is encouraging everyone to continue on as normal, with facemasks and distancing. Many people are quite relaxed about the situation – but schools are not. They are very worried about rising infections leading to more cancelled classes and postponed activities, and are making plans for all eventualities. Here at SJU, this should have been our 55th anniversary celebration week of events, but most have been cancelled or postponed ~ better safe than sorry. Fortunately, many events are just moving online rather than being cancelled altogether. The good news is that tomorrow we can go to visit our local junior high school to distribute Easter eggs (actually hard-boiled salted duck eggs) to the children and teachers, sharing the joy of Easter with our neighbours. We’re making the most of every opportunity to share our Easter joy!

Thank you for all your Easter greetings, cards and messages. Please continue to keep us in your prayers, as we pray for you too.

St. John’s Cathedral Easter flowers

Easter Joy! ❤️🐣 🌼 Thanks be to God!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 24 🌟🕯️🎄

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day24: This is the very lovely Cai-Pei 采沛, just arriving now at St. John’s University (SJU), and all ready for her baptism during tonight’s Christmas Eve service ~ and she gets the largest Teddy Bear chocolate in the Advent Calendar! Ah, she’s so happy! She comes every Sunday to Advent Church from her home in Taoyuan, having graduated last year from SJU in Creative Design, a classmate and good friend of Yi-Ting who works on our SJU Chaplaincy staff and the one who originally invited her to join the student fellowship. They also did their senior project together on the theme of Advent Church, designing and making a wonderful welcome video, cards and a book, all now featured on the Advent Church website.

Like Jia-Wei, who is also being baptized tonight, Cai-Pei is the first (and so far only) Christian in her family. She says she’s still waiting for the right moment to tell her family of her decision. Like many of our recently-graduated students, she’s finding it difficult to find a permanent job in her chosen field, design. Please do pray for her and her family, her search for a job, and her new-found Christian faith. Thanks be to God, and to you all for your prayers ~ and joyful greetings to you all this Christmas Eve! 🕯️🕯️

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 23 ⛄👼🌟

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day23: This is Melissa, second-year student of Creative Design at St. John’s University (SJU), also one of the leadership team of the Student Fellowship and in charge of tonight’s Christmas outreach event, the colours for which are blue, grey and white ~ the photo is taken against the stunning back wall they’ve designed for the occasion! She’s really amazing at leading worship, singing, dancing, design, art and music ~ in fact, she seems to be multi-talented in everything, and is such a blessing to our student fellowship. In the elections on December 30 for next year’s student fellowship leadership team, Melissa is expected to be the only candidate for the position of chair, so it’s looking like she could be the one!

Melissa is from Sabah, East Malaysia, brought up in Labuan until the age of 12, when she moved with her family eastwards across Sabah to Sandakan, where they joined their relatives as members of Good Shepherd Anglican Church. It’s really exciting for us to have someone from the Anglican Diocese of Sabah at SJU because our 2 dioceses have long been connected. Both Taiwan and Sabah dioceses have a strong kindergarten ministry, ours led by Mrs. Grace Liu (wife of Rev. Michael T. H. Liu), who arranged about 15 years ago for 2 kindergarten teachers from Sabah, Evelyn and Yvette to come for about 6 weeks to St. James’ Kindergarten, Taichung. We all became friends, and in return I visited them in Sabah, including a trip to see Yvette at Good Shepherd Kindergarten, Sandakan. We had such a great time ~ and now it turns out that Yvette and Melissa are friends from the worship team and choir at Good Shepherd Church. Ah, it’s a small world!

Melissa asks for prayer as she prepares for the possibility of taking over the leadership of SJU Student Fellowship for the coming year. She needs a lot of wisdom, patience and courage, as well as time and energy to be a good chairperson and also keep up with her studies. Please do pray for her!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 21 🎄🌟🎶

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day21: Good News! 好消息! Remember Jia-Wei 嘉偉 from Hong Kong who featured here on #Day2? He’s one of our students in the St. John’s University (SJU) Student Fellowship, and he’d said he really hoped to be baptized on Christmas Eve, but needed courage to first ask his family. With time moving on and Christmas Eve approaching fast, he finally summoned up the courage to talk to his family last night ~ and rather to his surprise and great delight, his father agrees with his decision, saying that as Jia-Wei is an adult, so he’s free to choose his own religion. YES! 😇

So in great thanksgiving to God ~ and to everyone for your prayers ~ we assembled a group photo of some of Jia-Wei’s ‘Support Team’ at lunch time today ~ all members of the student fellowship, who’ve encouraged and prayed for him throughout his time in Taiwan. As he said, he and his family don’t know any Christians in Hong Kong, and the first ones he himself got to know were here in the SJU Student Fellowship. Thanks be to God ~ and please do pray for Jia-Wei as he prepares for his baptism on Christmas Eve!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 20 ⛄🎁🎄

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day20: This is Shi-En 世恩, this year’s chair of St. John’s University Student Fellowship. He’s popular and outgoing, generous with his time and money, and his latest hair styles are always the talk of the town! Shi-En is a third year student in Leisure Sport & Health Management, and comes from Kluang, Johor, West Malaysia, where his family are members of Peace Assemblies of God Church 佳安神召會.

Shi-En’s sense of identity coming from a Christian family is very strong. His name Shi 世 means ‘world’, En 恩 means ‘grace’, and he says his parents gave him this name hoping that wherever he goes in the world he will share God’s grace with others. They certainly have a great vision, and Shi-En is a wonderful blessing to us all! In the student fellowship, he is always so welcoming of everyone, especially those on the edges of the group, and is very good leading online meetings, making sure everyone is included. In the fellowship meetings, he often leads the praise and worship ~ it’s always very lively! When Advent Church services were all online, his parents joined in from Malaysia and shared the peace with us during each service. Now, his family are preparing for his brother’s wedding at Chinese New Year, but sadly Shi-En won’t be able to return home due to the pandemic. Please do pray for him, his family and all in the student fellowship ~ they’re busy preparing for their big Christmas evangelistic outreach on Thursday December 23. 🎄🎶🔔

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 16 ⛄⛪🔔

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day16: This is Jasmine Yu 游珮琪主任, our good friend in charge of the local junior high school, Xian-Xiao (branch of Zheng-De Junior High School 正德國中賢孝校區). Xian-Xiao is so close that their pupils walk through the St. John’s University campus each day to get there, so we see them all often. There’s 85 children in the school, aged 12-15. Small is beautiful ~ they are so well cared for! The school specializes in giving the children all sorts of opportunities to discover what kind of career they might like in the future, with chances to learn everything from cooking to horticulture, electronics to hair-styling. They’re all very lovely and welcoming ~ we go there regularly for different classes, and we’re really looking forward to going next week to wish them all a Merry Christmas! 🎄🎅🏽🎶

With so many responsibilities, Jasmine is very very busy and her weekends are often full of school activities, but she tries hard to fit in the Sunday service at Advent Church ~ where she was baptized on Christmas Eve 2017, the first Christian in her immediate family, the second in her extended family; she brought about 20 family members along to witness her baptism that day! For many years, she has kindly invited me to go hiking some of Taiwan’s famous 100 Peaks (Baiyue 百岳) with her family, such a great experience. Please pray for her, her family and all in Xian-Xiao Junior High School!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 15 👼🌟⛄

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day15: This is Dr. Huang Hung-Pin 黃宏斌校長, President of St. John’s University (SJU), Taipei since August 1, 2020. Previous to this position, he served as professor in the National Taiwan University (NTU) Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering, Taipei. President Huang was here at SJU today to open the SJU Christmas Charity Bazaar, run by the SJU Chaplaincy, helped by members of Advent Church and SJU ~ and it went really well!

There are many challenges facing SJU; the priorities are to stabilize the financial situation, increase student enrollment and improve academic standards, so President Huang really has his work cut out for the next few years. He’s very very busy and needs great wisdom, good health and lots of energy. Please pray for him!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 14 🎄🎁👼

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day14: This is Jing-Huei 靜慧 (left) and Jin-Luan 金鑾 (right), who keep Advent Church running smoothly from morning to night! Both have their birthdays this week, and we celebrated today ~ thanks to Jin-Luan for sharing her yummy chocolate birthday cake with us all. Happy Birthday to these 2 Lovely Ladies! 🥳🎂🎈

Jing-Huei works for Advent Church in charge of the office, while Jin-Luan works for St. John’s University (SJU) in charge of Advent Church cleaning, which is mostly done very early in the morning before 8:00am. She’s always leaving just as we’re arriving, off to clean other parts of the SJU campus, part of a small team who do a wonderful job, working long hours in all kinds of terrible weather ~ but always cheerful! Please pray for them both, for their health and strength, their families and their work in Advent Church. We value them both so much! 🥳

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 13 🕯️🎅🏽🎄

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day13: This is Min-Wen 敏文 from Malaysia, 4th (and final) year student at St. John’s University (SJU), who’s about to graduate next summer in Industrial Engineering (IE). We’re going to miss her so much! She admits that originally she had no interest in IE, but a scholarship was on offer, and she took it – and has really made the most of it since then. She also applied for the SJU Chaplaincy’s meal coupon scheme for students facing financial hardship. Through her dedication and hard work, she has since received a number of awards and scholarships, and consistently scores the highest grades in her class. Many congratulations! 🥇🎓🏆

Min-Wen’s home church is the Joyous Glorious Community Church, Sitiawan, Perak, W. Malaysia, and she still regularly attends their weekly online prayer meeting. Last year she served as chair of the SJU Student Fellowship; this year she’s the worship leader, sharing her amazing gifts of singing and dancing. She’s very talented! Sadly, Min-Wen’s father died just after her last visit home for Chinese New Year 2020, and she hasn’t been able to go home since then due to the pandemic. Like many of our Malaysian students, she longs to go home to visit her family this coming Chinese New Year, but that’s out of the question too.

Now, as Min-Wen prepares to graduate, she faces many questions about her future, whether to stay in Taiwan or return home, to study for a Master’s Degree or find a job ~ if a degree then what and where, and if a job, then what job to look for? If our overseas students stay on in Taiwan, they need a job that offers a residence permit, often easier said than done. Most are torn between their family at home and the better job opportunities they say there are in Taiwan. Malaysia’s loss is certainly Taiwan’s gain – many are excellent students. It’s a very uncertain time for them all. Please pray for Min-Wen and others in her situation, that God will lead them as they prepare for the future.

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 12 ❄️🎄🕯️

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day12: This is Huei-Ling 惠苓 (left) and Shu-Jing 淑靖 (right) who are the best of friends and for the first time ever, they were both serving together at this morning’s Advent Church service. They both work for the Bishop of Taiwan, Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, Huei-Ling in the diocesan office in Taipei, Shu-Jing in St. John’s University (SJU), where Bishop Chang is the chair of the board. Until this year, Shu-Jing was on the staff of the SJU Chaplaincy, she’s also a qualified Japanese teacher, skills put to good use in our companion diocesan partnership with Osaka. And they both came with me to India at Chinese New Year 2017 ~ we had a such a great time together!

Their birthdays are both in March, one year apart. They both became Christians at university, the first (and so far only) one in their families ~ Huei-Ling was a student here at SJU and baptized in Advent Church, while Shu-Jing moved here looking for a quiet place to write her MA Thesis, and so joined Advent Church; she and her husband Jian-Chiang were married here in 2018. They ask for your prayers for their work, as they’re both extremely busy, often running from one place to another – there’s always so much to do!