TAIPEI, Taiwan (BP)–A desperate plea for help is ringing out to churches across America. Most churches have not heard the call and others have not considered that they could be the answer. Across Taiwan, the church is wavering. The resources are available, but the training and vision are lacking.
International Mission Board missionaries Jim and Brenda Schexnayder are attempting to solve this problem. In 2006, they began working with local Taiwanese churches in leadership development and evangelism training.
“In America, people have a good background of what a Christian is, but they don’t have that here,” Schexnayder said. “They are truly a baby. Oftentimes they add Jesus to their existing dichotomy of gods. It sometimes takes a while for those other gods to fall away.”
Schexnayder trains small groups through the local church on the basics of Christianity. Usually his groups start with the basic understanding that the church is the people, not the building.
“People are used to doing worship in their houses and the temples, but in their minds the church is only a building down the street,” Schexnayder said. “They don’t see their small group of believers as a church — even if they are meeting and worshipping regularly. We just keep trying to tell them that this is a church and we are building towards a church.”
But there is one thing that Schexnayder cannot teach.
“If the church looks at me, they’re not going to see anything to copy,” he said. “The church in America needs to show the local church [in Taiwan] what the American church is doing.”
Schexnayder would like U.S. churches to connect and become a direct model for churches in Taiwan. These churches need a good model so they can start to grow.
Jim and Brenda began working with one particular church that closed because of lack of interest. After moving to a new location, the church reopened and is growing again. Last summer, Jim and Brenda helped the local pastor host a three-day summer camp for 15 high school and junior high school students.
“I have been praying for help and now here you are,” the pastor’s wife said regarding Jim and Brenda’s assistance.
Jim and Brenda receive numerous requests from churches for help, but their time is limited.
“The American church could come just once or twice per year and partner with one or two local churches by providing advice and materials as well as just a mirror for the church to see what it should be doing,” Schexnayder said.
Tony Dong became a Christian five years ago and is the owner of an automotive center in Taiwan. Jim and Brenda recently began working with him to start a church using extra space on the top floor of his shop.
“I was waiting to get the car fixed and Tony told me, ‘I have a vision to start a church in this shop,'” Schexnayder said. “Two months later he said, ‘I have some people doing a Bible study and I want to grow it into a church.'”
Dong uses his business contacts to share the Gospel. His passion for God is evident in the number of people he invites to his weekly Bible study.
“My vision is to read the Bible. The more I learn, the more God will tell me what to do,” Dong said.
Dong prayed weekly for a spiritual business plan and continued to preach the Gospel, which ultimately cost him his original business partner. God gave Dong the vision to use his garage as a meeting place for the church. Dong would like to see American Christian business leaders provide training to his other business contacts so that they will pray for the same spiritual business plan.
“Tony provides a unique opportunity for Christian business leaders in America to train local business leaders on how to do business God’s way,” Schexnayder said.
The opportunities for American churches to partner with local Taiwanese churches are endless. Vacation Bible Schools, leadership training among pastors, Christian business training and English summer camps are just a few of the ways American churches can help struggling Taiwanese churches keep their doors open.
“Don’t ever let language be an excuse,” Schexnayder said. “Pray and expect God to be glorified.”
Debra Weikel writes for the International Mission Board. For more information on how you can help the struggling church in Taiwan, contact Jim and Brenda Schexnayder at [email protected] Volunteer teams are needed around the world. Go to www.imb.org for more information on how you can be involved.