WEEK OF PRAYER: Taiwanese believers commit to global spread of the Gospel

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Nov. 28-Dec. 5, with a theme of Together. The theme parallels the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Mission’s theme of Let’s Advance God’s Kingdom Together. The offering provides a significant portion of the IMB’s annual budget and 100 percent of the funds go to mission work on the field. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at IMB.org/lmco, where there are also resources to help promote the offering. This year’s goal is $185 million.

When IMB missionary Jeremiah Farmer* moved to Taiwan, he recognized a need in the churches — no one was being sent out as missionaries.

During their two-month training at Huayu International Missions (HIM), future Taiwanese missionaries are required to go out and practice sharing the gospel. The Taiwanese Baptist pastors and IMB missionaries who started HIM were sure to include these “evangelism encounters” in the training process.

According to Farmer, in the year 2019, fewer than seven Taiwanese in the entire world were serving on the mission field. While many of the Taiwanese churches are healthy and have a strong faith history, only a few churches are large enough to support and send their own members to serve on the mission field. They also have preconceived ideas about career missions.

“[Churches] thought, ‘If one of our church members wants to be a missionary, they can just go with a foreign organization and do that,’” Farmer says.

Farmer and other IMB missionaries focused on training Taiwanese believers — encouraging and equipping them to send. With Taiwanese pastors who had the same vision and heart to see believers sent to share the Gospel away from Taiwan, they laid the groundwork for a Taiwanese mission-sending agency.

While the IMB did help fund some aspects of the agency, the goal was a self-sustaining missions organization.

One in five people in the world are from East Asia. The region is currently home to 1.7 billion people.

“We were really careful to not make it ‘our thing,’” Farmer explains. “We wanted to make sure the sending agency was locally owned. The goal has always been for local ownership, local sustainability, local mass sending.”

Farmer and Taiwanese pastors worked with IMB missionaries Fred Hillman*, a logistics coordinator, and Steve Remington*, a key partner to Taiwanese Baptist Convention leaders.

After six months of preparation, Huayu International Missions (HIM) opened in February 2020, right before the restrictions of COVID-19. However, those who had joined the agency and were ready to be sent in 2020 did not falter in their commitment to go. HIM’s process of sending is much like the IMB’s process of preparing missionaries to go; the Taiwanese missionaries are vetted, interviewed and trained beforehand.

During their two-month training at Huayu International Missions (HIM), future Taiwanese missionaries participated in the ministries of eight different churches in Taiwan.

In 2020, HIM was able to send five Taiwanese missionaries to areas of the world where IMB missionaries were already located so the Taiwanese missionaries could receive encouragement and training.

This year, nine more Taiwanese missionaries are being sent. Those being sent are young and old, married and single, male and female. One woman sent in 2019 moved to the Northern Africa and Middle Eastern region. Luna, a single woman in her 30s is learning the local language and has already been building relationships with those she meets in the city.

Farmer sees the missions legacy continue through his Taiwanese brothers and sisters.

“The IMB sent our earliest missionaries to East Asia, a mission field,” he says, “and now, 175 years later, they are beginning to be ‘sent’ along with us to other mission fields.”

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