Yesterday while waiting to get in to see the doctor, I was once again impressed by the modern facilities at the new Chiayi Christian Hospital building which opened a year or so ago across the street from the older facility.
Outside this faith-based hospital, you will not find cultish missionaries riding their bicycles around and around in squares at stop light intersections pretending to be going somewhere in order to pounce upon unsuspecting victims (you know who I mean if you’ve lived in Taiwan for any period of time). Neither will you find well-intentioned evangelical Christian workers approaching you to directly share a gospel tract (there are, however, proper venues for this). Or Christians who pressure you into saying a prayer as you wait to see your doctor. Rather, at Chiayi Christian Hospital, what you do find is first-rate medical service which gives glory to God primarily by doing just that: “offering high-quality medical care and holistic care” (as emphasized by their founder back in 1958).
While the hospital’s principle mission is to glorify God by being a good hospital, it does not shrink from sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ as appropriate. In this regard, most evident and impressive to me in the new facility are all the large flat screen TVs one finds in multiple locations in front of every outpatient service waiting area.
In one small square of the screen is health information, in a smaller rectangle the date and time, and in another a separate scrolling message. The majority of the screen, however, is devoted to programming from Taiwan’s Christian TV station, Good TV.
Some of the programming might appeal more to upper middle class Christians whose ancestors came over from mainland China many years ago as opposed to grassroots Taiwanese. And yes, the guy who sang the Beatles’ song “Yesterday” so passionately in English on the tube last night probably did not connect in a spiritually-meaningful way with anyone at the hospital (including me)! Nevertheless, I did note that some of the programming seemed oriented to the elderly, grassroots Hoklo speakers who were sitting all around me. This is huge because many of those waiting ---some were probably illiterate – were intently tuned into the singing and especially the stories and personal testimonies.
How does this relate to us in our community as we wait on Jesus to plant His church? I want to continue to include a Christian song, bible story and a brief prayer near the end of our weekly Children’s English Club in order for kids to be able to know and relate to Jesus, His Spirit, and our Father in heaven in their native languages. However, I do not want to give anyone in the community the opportunity to accuse us of proselytizing by manipulating kids into raising their hands to pray to know Jesus as part of games we offer, by using the appearance of teaching English while not actually teaching it (or teaching very very little), etc.
If a parent sends their child to us, I want them to know up front that they can trust us with him or her. Christian content in their native tongue will be a small part of the total package, but the larger product is intended to immerse their child into the holistic English speaking environment of games, singing, and story-telling (however amateur we are as teachers or for however brief the time).
Back at the hospital, if someone is a devout Buddhist or Daoist, they can choose to go to another hospital or to sit further away from the television sets on the walls. Similarly, if someone does not want their child exposed to the brief Christian content we offer every week, they can choose to send their kid elsewhere and tell their child not to partipate in the prayer, etc. However, for those who do choose to allow their children to come and participate, we can be used of God to influence entire families incrementally closer to Christ.
If we can teach English with excellence, then God ultimately gets the glory—both in our Children’s English Club activity as well as in the lives of the children and their families. And if we ever have the chance to start a more traditional “Good News Club”—but promote it as being precisely that--- then Lord Jesus, in the words of Jean-Luc Picard, please “Make it so!”