2 weeks have passed but I’m still missing everyone at MSCE! I can never forget the warmth and love that engulfed me throughout my 11-days stay in Taiwan.
I chanced upon the application for MSCE via an email while on a student exchange program in Boston. Medical care… Faith-based programs… Small group discussions… Testimony sharing… Those words struck me! I’ve always wanted to participate in such a program but I’d never come across one until that day. At the same time, I was yearning to draw closer to God. MSCE seemed like a perfect fit for me! My second thought was, “are non-Americans allowed to join…?” I dropped a quick email to Margaret, one of the faculty members, and I was thrilled to receive a positive reply.
The days leading up to the camp were filled with excitement. Yet, I was apprehensive. I began questioning myself if I was capable enough, and if it was the right decision for me to accept the offer of becoming a TA at MSCE. I absolutely love interacting with people and immersing myself in another culture, as well as engaging in conversations revolving around Christianity. However, having received a negative response from someone whom I’ve shared the gospel with in the past, I wasn’t sure if I had what it takes to share it after all. Nonetheless, I trusted God and packed my bags for it.
What surprised me at the start of my MSCE journey was how close a community the American team became within the first 2 days of knowing each other! All of us came from different backgrounds or even cultures. Despite that, it felt as though we had already known each other for a long time! It was evident that God was working within the entire team and that gave me a huge boost of encouragement.
Throughout the camp, I had tons of fun interacting with all the Taiwanese students and forging new friendships. All the presentations and small group discussions were especially insightful and educational and they were fantastic platforms to share our personal views without any liabilities. On top of that, I was very fortunate and blessed to be granted the opportunity to present my personal testimony on my birthday that happened to fall on the first full day of camp! Through God’s grace, my personal sharing rekindled my dedication to God and motivated me to go all out for Him not just for the remaining days at MSCE, but also for the rest of my life.
Apart from presentations and discussions, we also participated in activities and outings! We had the privilege of relaxing by Baisha Bay, filling our stomachs at various night markets and getting cultured at a museum, just to name a few.
Nothing touched me more than the openness and receptiveness of the Taiwanese students. Previously, I was skeptical about sharing the gospel as I was afraid of causing tension between Christians and non-Christians. Over the course of the camp, I came to realize that there are in fact people out there who are willing to give the gospel a listen, and not everyone is cynical about it. This has given me the courage to actively seek opportunities to share God’s Word and not be hesitant to do so just because of one unpleasant experience.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”Romans 15:13
Writing this reflection alone gives me so much joy! I cannot be any more grateful for the chance to go onboard MSCE, and for all the friends that I’ve made on this journey. Thank you everyone for spreading God’s love and inspiring me to love God even more.
As we pulled away from Taipei on the high speed rail, we were leaving behind the energy-filled excitement of MSCE camp and the new friendships we had formed with the students. The last night of camp had been filled with tearful goodbyes, countless selfies, and lots of laughter and hugs.
We arrived in Taitung after traveling by train a full day. Because of a typhoon, we took the train through Kaoshiung instead of going straight from Taipei to Taitung. Though it was a long day of traveling, we made good use of our time on the train playing Bang, sharing riddles, and taking in the greenery and mountains along the way.
The first morning in Taitung, we went on a tour of Taitung Christian Hospital. Lawrence, the head of PR, took us through the history of the hospital. In a video we watched on the hospital’s history, a current nurse shared that she treats her patients with love because she (and the other nurses) are carrying on the spirit and love of the early missionaries. God’s love displayed through the early missionaries has made such a lasting impact that decades later, that mission still lives on. It was beautiful to see how the missionaries have passed on that torch, and how individuals like Mr. Harold Lu and the staff at Taitung Christian Hospital continue to carry on the call to serve their fellow Taiwanese with God’s love and compassion.
After the tour, Mrs. Lu (Catherine) and Jessica shared with us about the Galilee Foundation, which is the outreach branch of the hospital. Taitung Christian Hospital is unique in that the majority of the hospital’s work is actually outreach work outside of the hospital. The Galilee Foundation actively engages with the community through programs such mobile elderly bath outreach (bringing a bathtub in a van to the elderly), orphan care (0-24 months old children), outreach to kids in aboriginal villages, mobile health care, ministering to teens in juvenile detention, families with special needs kids outreach, and more.
As we learned about the diverse outreach programs, I saw the thread of faith in all of it. When Catherine was sharing about large societal issues and how the hospital outreach seeks to fill the gap, I saw that the team was choosing to be obedient to God in “serving the least of these”, even when there are many challenges involved.
Over the next couple of days, we had the opportunity to see and learn more about the individual outreach programs. We visited an aboriginal village and met Irene, who had moved from Taipei to live missionally in Taitung, providing a safe afterschool place for the local children. Through her kindness and ministry, she is able to show these children God’s love and encourage them, by providing breakfast, sharing Bible lessons, and being a friend to the children. (It was also fun to hear that her dachshund, Mo-Mo, was also a “ministry partner”, since all the kids like to stop by her house and pet the dog!)
We also visited three elderly centers and led some lively grandmas in stretches and line dancing! It was a treat to hear the women share a traditional aboriginal song with us too.
The next day, we visited an orphanage called Hannah’s House, where the staff takes care of babies from 0-24 months of age. The babies are so cute! The orphanage fills an important role, taking in babies when the government finds that the child is no longer safe in the home environment or when the parent decides they can no longer take care of the baby and willingly gives them up for adoption.
Another very meaningful part of this second week was also visiting Mackay Memorial Hospital and a private Christian hospital. It was amazing to see God working in different ways to fill different needs in Taitung through each of these hospitals – it seems that they have all found their niche in serving God and loving His people. At Mackay Hospital, we were reminded of Mackay’s motto, “Rather burn out than rust out”.
As I reflect on what I learned at in Taitung, I think this saying summarizes what we witnessed in each of these three hospitals we visited. God calls each person to unique role. As we saw with Irene, who moved from a city environment in Taipei to the mountains in Taitung, where God calls us may seem a bit strange. Sometimes it is very miraculous, as with Dr. Dennis, who started Taitung Christian Hospital. He had been planning to go to Africa but all the spots were filled up; at that same time, a Reverend in Taiwan asked for a general surgeon with tropical medicine experience, and that was the perfect match with Dr. Dennis’ skills! With the Galilee Foundation, the staff is doing community outreach and being Christ’ hands and feet even though anyone else would find these societal issues daunting. Through these examples, and countless others, I saw that when we say “Yes” to God and we are all in, He provides the way!
This second week in Taitung was an eye-opening learning experience, and I’d recommend the service trip to anyone who is deciding whether to stay another week after MSCE. It’s awesome seeing the legacy of missionaries in the past, and it was inspiring to learn about the work being done inside and outside the hospital right now. To see Christ’s faithfulness throughout the generations of the hospital’s history to the present day is such an encouragement, and it inspires us to do the same: “rather burn out than rust out”!
“Grace upon grace.”
It’s just an overused and cliche phrase used by seasoned Christians for their godly Instagram captions. It doesn’t mean much. Or so I thought.
The funny thing about cliches is that they only seem cliche until they happen to you. Through MSCE/Taitung 2018, a two-week missions trip in the island nation of Taiwan, God revealed to me grace upon grace. But what does this really mean? Well, it’s simple. First, grace is the free and unmerited favor of God. We do not deserve grace, yet we are able to obtain it because of what God has done for us. Secondly, to have grace upon grace just means that there is an abundance of grace. In other words, I witnessed an abundance of God’s grace during this missions trip in Taiwan. Particularly, I saw God’s grace through MSCE, Christian fellowship, and the service learning trip in Taitung.
Saving Grace: MSCE
The Holy Spirit is real, and He was very clearly working in the hearts of the students at the annual Medical Student Cultural Exchange (MSCE). Although the organization which hosts this summer camp is Christian, MSCE is not advertised as a Christian camp. It’s advertised as an English-learning camp. As such, I had my concerns about whether or not students would attend our optional daily Bible study at 7:45AM. I was also worried about how well I would get along with the students in my small group. I was also fearful that our presentations were not well-prepared.
I had all these doubts in my mind before the camp, but these doubts were immediately dispelled at the start of the camp. God was gracious in providing us with everything that we needed. He allowed for all the activities to go smoothly, and he blessed me with an amazing small group with students who were eager to learn. But most importantly, I witnessed God’s grace through MSCE Bible study when He worked in my students’ hearts.
On the very first day of the Bible study, my co-leader and I asked our students about their thoughts on Christianity. Two of them said they were Christian; another two hesitated to say that they were “kind of Christian”; the last said that she was not Christian. By God’s grace, through the course of the week, our small group was able to learn of the truth of the Gospel. We covered dark topics like sin, but we also shared the good news of salvation from sin and eternal glory with Christ. Throughout the week, I wasn’t entirely sure about what my students felt about the Bible study. They were quiet and reserved for the most part, and they nodded along when we asked them if what we were saying made sense. I was worried that our presentation of the Gospel message was inadequate.
But God reminded me again that salvation is not something accomplished by man. It isn’t about my ability to explain the Gospel clearly. Rather, God is the only one who is able to save. On the last day of Bible study, we asked our group again about where they stood with Christ. And this time, all of them said that they were interested in seeking Christ further. Furthermore, those who were Christian to begin with said that their understanding of the Bible was strengthened. I praise God for His saving grace. As Christians, we are never promised to see the people we love come to Christ. We aren’t promised to see the fruit of our work, yet God was so gracious in allowing me to see Him save these students. Praise God for that!
The Global Church and the Joys of Christian Fellowship
One thing which I wasn’t expecting to experience on this missions trip was the immense joy I would find in my fellow TAs. Our TA team had never met until the very first day of MSCE, and we come from different backgrounds. However, we had the most important thing in common, that is, Christ. That was all we needed. Throughout the course of the week, we went from complete strangers to family who pray, laugh, and serve together. I’m so thankful for their servant hearts, desire to seek Christ, and love for the Word. It is only through God’s grace that I am able to call them my brothers and sisters in Christ. Even if we go our separate ways in this lifetime, I’m confident that we will see each other again in heaven, perfected, and home at last.
Giants of Faith: Taitung
When we hear the term “giants of faith,” we often think about famous Bible characters like Abraham, David, or Elijah. But giants of faith don’t only exist in the Bible; they can be seen in Taiwan too. For the second half of the mission, the team headed to Taitung to see the work that previous missionaries had accomplished. When we visited the Taitung Christian hospital, we learned of the many hardships that these missionaries had to overcome.
When resources were inadequate, the hospital staff would scour neighboring beaches for abandoned sandals in order to create makeshift casts for the patients. They worked long hours to rebuild the hospital after a devastating typhoon. One doctor in particular noticed that a crippled patient was the only source of income for his family. Rather than simply amputating his leg, the doctor performed a series of complex amputations to completely heal the broken bone. The dedication and care of these missionaries showed me just how much they loved God and the people of Taiwan.
These missionaries paved the road for others to continue the furtherance of God’s kingdom. A small team of Christians with faith the size of a giant is able to make such a huge impact on an entire people group through Christ who strengthens. They were never promised to see the fruit of their work, but luckily we were able to. Building on their work, I hope to one day follow in their footsteps in sharing the good news with those who are lost.
Lastly, I hope to leave you all with my favorite quote by C.S. Lewis: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
This quote serves as a reminder to have an eternal perspective: there is an eternity waiting for us after this life. But there are only two options. People can spend an eternity in hell, suffering “immortal horrors” for the consequences of sin. Or, people can spend an eternity in heaven, sharing in the “everlasting splendors” promised to those who believe in Christ and His saving grace. Knowing this, how should we as Christians respond? I hope the answer is clear: go, and make disciples of all nations!