(a.k.a. – God is really good!)
Taiwan embodies a culture of community, and your first community is your family. It’s the epicenter of cultural traditions and the framework for adult life. Often, households are comprised of three generations living together. Personal actions reflect on the reputation of the family as a whole, and the Confucian concept of guanxi (guan-she) emphasizes maintaining positive relationships and respect, especially within the family. In Taiwan, as in other countries, family is a complicated mix – a source of strength, support, anxiety, and friction that’s both beautiful and messy. My dear Taiwanese friend, Boni Tsai, challenged her family dynamics more than 20 years ago when she became a Christian.
Traditional Taiwanese religion includes a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and ancestor worship. Family gatherings often include prayers to the preferred god(s) and ancestors. Becoming a Christian means you no longer participate in these worship ceremonies. You are living a spiritual life outside of your family community. Some families take this quite seriously and ostracize the erring member. Boni’s family was not so harsh. In fact, some years later her mother became a Christian. Boni continued praying for her father and sharing the Gospel with him, but he remained strongly opposed.
Last year Boni’s elderly father had an accident that required months of recuperation at home. During that time, Pastor Alex Wu, from Salvation Lutheran Church in Chiayi, regularly visited Boni’s father. Pastor Alex shared the Gospel, prayed with Mr. Tsai, and later began instruction from Luther’s Small Catechism. In February of this year, Boni shared with me the good news that her 90 year old father had expressed an interest in being baptized. “God is really good!” Boni happily exclaimed.
On March 8, Salvation Lutheran Church eagerly awaited the baptism of Mr. Tsai, but his baptismal birthday would arrive a little sooner. On March 3, Mr. Tsai experienced a serious fall, hitting his head. He was rushed to the hospital to determine the extent of his injuries. Boni phoned Pastor Alex, and an emergency baptism was performed at the hospital. Boni’s relief was clear. Her father was a member of God’s family. Mr. Tsai was officially a child of God. More good news followed; Mr. Tsai’s injuries, while significant, were not life threatening. We rejoice with Boni and her family. Her father is part of a new community, the body of Christ. Yes, God is really good!