Tag Archives: St. John’s University SJU Taiwan

From Taiwan to the world: Advent Church Overseas Mission Trip ~ smiles all round!

Yes, it’s all been happening this summer – months of prayer, preparation and packing ~ and finally they were ready for the off ~ YES!

Earlier in the summer, a team of 16 young people (all young at heart, and mostly young in age too!) from St. John’s University Chaplaincy and Advent Church, led by SJU Chaplain and Advent Church Rector, Rev. Lennon Chang, spent 10 days on an overseas mission trip ~ and yesterday a very happy 14 of them gathered at Advent Church to share with the church about their experiences….


Each one had 3 minutes to speak, and priority #1 of course was:  THE FOOD!  Taiwan was recently voted by CNN to have the best food in the whole world, so of course whenever a Taiwan person leaves Taiwan, well, food is always going to be their main concern ~ and so it was ;)!  Everyone had been a bit worried and prepared for the worst, but actually they’ve all survived, and some have even put on weight ha ha!  #2 topic was toilets, another subject much discussed and worried over beforehand.  ‘Could have been worse’ was the overall feeling on their return….  We also heard about transport ~ the 15-hour bus journey, the trips in the back of open pick-up trucks, accommodation, the cost of living – salaries and cost of basic goods, the extreme poverty, the ministry to the children and youth, home visits, church worship, and everyone’s most moving moment and lasting memory.  Overall, clearly a life-changing experience for everyone.

All were very moved by the faith of the local Christians they met ~ in a community with few financial resources, prayer and their faith in Christ are clearly what carries everyone through, and the way the churches reach out to the destitute and marginalized in the local community is a wonderful witness.  Some of the students commented that here in Taiwan we have every technological invention known to man, but there they have nothing, no loud speakers, microphones, computers, not even any basic toys, and in many places no water or electricity either ~ and yet the children are content, the people get by and the Gospel is preached.

One of our students reflected on his own life and how totally self-absorbed he was as a teenager, focused only on his own life and personal desires, and yet there, the teenagers requested prayer not just for themselves and their school work, but for their parents to find faith and become Christians.  Another noticed how resourceful the children were, thinking things out for themselves, finding creative solutions to every problem – not waiting for adults to organize them and explain everything to them, but leading the way themselves.

Rev. Lennon Chang shared about his role on the trip, which was prayer, prayer and more prayer. Every day, up at 4:30am praying for 2 hours, for each member of the team, and then ongoing throughout the day…. spiritual warfare was very much a reality of their daily lives, and without all the prayer, no way would the trip have been a success.

Actually this trip was really organized and made possible through Pastor Shih, whose son is one of the students in our SJU Student Fellowship, and both father and son went on the mission trip.  Pastor Shih works for the Taiwan branch of an ecumenical mission organization that was started in the 1990’s, the result of a initial vision given to a Chinese pastor who took a moment to sit down and rest while on a tour inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.   Wow.  And the moral is – always sit down and rest while on a tour of a cathedral, church or basilica, you just never know what might happen!

Although they also work in many local languages, most of those involved on the mission teams are Chinese-speaking, and in our case, the outreach was to a Chinese church and Chinese-speaking community in a country where extreme poverty, political instability and lack of religious freedom are all major factors.  Sharing the Gospel is very difficult.  And that’s why I don’t want to tell you exactly where they went – sorry, it’s a bit too risky.

Pastor Shih spoke yesterday of the trip and our mission team’s ministry with the local children and teenagers ~ and how our team trained the church youth to run an evangelistic outreach night.  On the Saturday night they actually held the outreach, led by the church youth for their friends and visitors, while our team sat in the pews and saw the fruits of their training put into action.  This was a huge encouragement to the local church leaders, to see their own young people stand up and lead worship, perform drama, share their testimonies and run the whole event themselves, they were overjoyed!

The last time a group from Advent Church and SJU Chaplaincy went on an overseas mission trip was to the Diocese of West Malaysia a few years ago.  That changed their lives forever.  So did this one!

Our team returned to Taiwan on August 5, and of the 16 who went, 7 of them then got ill. Not ill while they were there, but once they came back.  Our 2 Advent Church clergy went down with dengue fever and the other 5 went down with similar fevers and stomach problems, but not diagnosed as dengue.  That was all happening the weekend that Typhoon Soudelor was roaring around Taiwan trying hard to wipe us all off the face of the earth.  Ah, deep sigh ~ it never rains but it pours!

IMG_3968aBut praise God all of them have now recovered.  As you can see in the photos, yesterday they all dressed up like they did on the mission trip, and with the cream on the face that local people use to protect their skin from the sun.  All of them are full of praise and gratitude to Almighty God, to the team leaders and to Advent Church for prayer and financial support.

All have had their eyes opened and learned so much.  Please pray for these young people (young at heart as well as young in age!) for their lives, their faith and their future ~ after all, who knows what might happen after such an amazing life-changing experience as this?!

Typhoon Soudelor 蘇迪勒颱風

Well here we are, alive to tell the tale.  That was definitely a storm to end all storms.  What a night it was, and then what a day.  24 hours of non-stop torrential rains, almost apocalyptic winds that shook the walls and windows until it felt like the buildings were going to collapse or take off, debris crashing and banging and flying into everything, and a 10 hour power cut.

With no electricity, we had no TV News, and although we had mobile and 3G signals, the power soon ran out on the phone and power bank.  So all we could do was sit and wait.  And listen.  And pray.  With so much noise, screeching and crashing and banging it was inevitable that there was going to be much damage, injuries and possibly deaths.

There was.  Much damage.  And at least 6 deaths, 4 missing and almost 200 injured.  Terrible.  Terrible.  Truly Terrible.  Such tragedy.

Check out this article: Typhoon leaves six dead, 185 injured – Taipei Times.

Here in the far north of Taiwan, in Sanzhi 三芝 Town, it was rough.  Felt almost like the end of the world was coming with those winds.  And I live on the ground floor.  Imagine what it was like for those 12 floors above me.  Friends and neighbours were reporting in as very afraid.  Afraid that the windows would blow in.  Afraid trees would go down on their houses.  Afraid for family and friends.

And yesterday was Father’s Day in Taiwan.  So named because the date 8/8 is pronounced ba-ba in Chinese.  At lunchtime yesterday there was a moment of calm, and out I went into the town.  The only place with electricity was the bread and cake shop.  They were doing a roaring trade in Father’s Day cakes.  All sold out.

And then back home to wait out Typhoon Soudelor Part 2.  By then the typhoon had already left Taiwan, but it wasn’t over yet ~ this was the sting in its tail.

The rains eased off. But the winds were worse.  Gusts so strong that everything that hadn’t already blown off in the morning stood no chance now.

By this morning all was calm.  Off I went to St John’s University to check out the damage.  Loads of trees down, especially the banyans.  Tons of debris – chairs, ceiling boards and signposts in the most unlikely places.  And the wall and fence of the swimming pool badly damaged.

Actually it could have been a lot worse.  A lot lot worse.  But then, after so many years of typhoons, summer after summer, it’s kinda surprising that any tree remains standing upright in this part of the world.  Still there are thousands upon thousands that have fallen down throughout the country during this typhoon.  The road from here to St. John’s University is 5 miles, of, well, fallen trees, fallen signs and fallen everything.  And if they’ve not actually fallen, they’re leaning over onto the road.

And my own house?  Well, the back window used to have a sloping roof of aluminum sheeting nailed onto some wood supports to keep the sun and rain off.  That flew off in the typhoon.  Then the bathroom ceiling fell in.  Quite an achievement really considering the bathroom doesn’t even have a window.  But above the ceiling is a cavity where the wind gets in, and it brought the whole lot down.  End result, the noise coming from the bathroom as the wind whooshed around inside was incredible, and the strength of the wind was so powerful that I couldn’t push open the door until it had all calmed down….

So there you have it. Today is Sunday and off we all went to Advent Church this morning, grateful to God for his mercy and that we all survived, many with tales to tell, and photos to show.    And yes, we celebrated Father’s Day – here’s all the fathers in our church!


And then we all went home to clean up all the mess.  Guess that might take days and weeks, there’s a lot to do.

Thank you for your prayers.  Please continue.  The typhoon may have gone, but the devastation remains.  People were killed, missing and injured. Damage to property and to agriculture is huge.  But God was merciful, we were spared the worst.

And guess what?  In Taipei 101, the highest building in Taiwan, and one of the highest in the world, is a huge ‘damper’ that looks like a massive ball and it swings to and fro in typhoons or earthquakes to keep the building upright.  Yesterday in the strongest winds at 7:00am, it was swaying by 2 metres.  Amazing.  Just glad I wasn’t up there at the time!