Terrance Chang’s Testimony – Taiwan Missions Summer 2015
Week 1 – Nantou
My path in going back to Taiwan for a sixth time to serve on a missions trip was not entirely how I expected it to be. Back in 2013, I was fairly certain that I was done going back to AEF for missions, as well as the other camps we do. And yet, here I was in 2015, gearing up to return once more. I was not even thinking about missions until just about a month before leaving, around May. People had asked me whether or not I was considering going back, and my answer to them was “Oh maybe, unless I get an internship or something” which basically equates to “no, I’m not that interested.” Well, after failing to secure an internship, I began thinking a lot more about missions, and whether or not I really should go back. It was at a Friday night large group with my fellowship AACF where I felt moved by God to go back to Taiwan and serve Him. And so right then, I decided that I did want to return one more time to help lead the team.
Before leaving for Taiwan, one of the biggest things for me in terms of leadership this year was that I was leading devotional studies for the team each day. This prompted me to spend a lot of time studying the Word, and planning certain passages for certain days throughout the week that I felt would work well. I think that through this, I was able to better ground myself in God’s word before heading off to the camp, which in the past was something that I wasn’t entirely focused on. Going into the camp, I was a little reserved for the first study, and I was pretty worried that I wouldn’t know what to say or get lost during it. But, I felt God take away my nerves and worries and helped me be able to speak about Him, and to not hold back anything while sharing.
Now, probably the biggest thing for me this year, was the role of becoming the main leader. During Saturday of pre-camp, my brother Chris came up to me and told me that he wanted me to take over as the main leader for the team for this week, as he had different responsibilities to attend to for the camp, and he felt that I was capable enough to lead. I was a bit apprehensive at first, as I felt that a huge load of responsibility was dropped on me suddenly, however I knew that in the end I would be able to do so, and it felt like God wanted me to use what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown in college and put it to use serving Him and the team. In doing so though, I felt like my priorities had shifted a bit. Throughout the camp, my primary focus was not really on my own kids in my class, even though it is probably the most important thing for us missioners to focus on. I struggled a lot in bonding with my class, partly because they were the oldest kids, so a lot of them were not interested in dancing or being taught anything. They just kind of had the attitude of being here for fun since a lot of them have previously attended as well, so they know what goes on throughout the week. I didn’t get to spend that much time with them as well, because of leadership meetings during the day, as well as checking in on other classes to see if there were any issues going on for each class. Thus, I’d say that for this year, God really wanted my priority to be on the team, the STMer’s and the TA’s. Very quickly, STM(short term missioners) were mainly from my home church, and we are all Christians. TA(teaching assistants) come from international schools in Shanghai or Taiwan, and they are generally here to help us in translation as they are fluent in Mandarin and English. However, most are not Christian at all, and so there has always been a rift between us when it comes to working together as a team, since they do not understand the reasons we are attending this camp. Thus, I felt that as much as we are called to love the kids, and share Christ with them, I felt a calling to be able to share with the TA’s about who God is as well, especially since we worked so closely the entire week together.
Now one of the biggest nights for the first week is Wednesday, where a few teachers go up onstage and share their testimony in front of the entire camp. This is generally a very emotional night, and it’s a really good opportunity to talk to your class about who God is, and to be able to pray for them as well. For myself, I was fortunate enough to be able to witness two friends of mine have courage to go up and share in front of the entire camp their own personal stories. I was quite moved to be honest, as I wasn’t really expecting such impactful testimonies to be shared by them. The scene was pretty beautiful, a lot of tears being shed, hugging, and prayer with one another. If you saw me, you would think I was a hermit who lacked emotion due to me being tear-free, but I truly wasn’t. I was definitely saddened in hearing the hardships my brother and sister in Christ have gone through, but more so, I was ecstatic to hear about the huge steps they’ve taken in their walks, and to see them up there with nothing holding them back from sharing, it was really inspiring for myself. I’d say my main emotion was just joy, which is kind of weird given that everyone surrounding me were pretty sad. But for me, the beauty I saw gave me proudness (pride?) for my teammates example of boldness in their faith and admiration for the work God has done. Probably the most important thing for me that night was after the testimony sharing, when the kids were brought back to their dorms and some of us got to pray for them, and then we returned back to the main auditorium. It was most of us STMer’s and TM’ers, and I was able to just have the opportunity to talk with them as a whole, to speak about what sort of happened that night and how it can impact one’s faith. I felt it was really important to talk with the team as well, and to not just sort of have this emotional moment go to waste I guess. Something I felt God wanted me to do was to get this point across to everyone else: that it is easy to feel very “Christian” where we were because we were surrounded by it 24/7 the entire camp, and how experiencing missions can give you a “spiritual high” that can easily die away once the trip is over. So, I was able to speak about this with the majority of the team, because once you return back to your normal life, it can get tough to continuously see God at work because we aren’t surrounded in an environment that is centered on that exact idea. In the end, we also got to pray as a collective group. Ok let me rant just a tad, so there’s this form of prayer famously known as “Korean Style Prayer,” which basically means everyone in a group will pray out loud, and then usually one person closes. People in Taiwan really enjoy praying this style, whether because it’s efficient or…I’m not sure of why else. But I’m not a huge fan of it, namely because it’s pretty noisy making it hard to focus, and I enjoy actually hearing one person pray aloud rather than a multitude of 20 different voices. So, as a group of Christians and Non-Christians, we all prayed, in the style of “if you feel led to pray, then open up and speak out.” And it was awesome! People prayed, and weren’t afraid of doing so. And so, that night I really did feel God at work, in a manner entirely different from my previous times attending.
So, in short my first week of missions this year was pretty darn tiring. I think I managed to learn a lot about being a more capable leader, as well as seeking the wellbeing of my team both physically and spiritually throughout the week. Thus, whilst it was a draining week, it was also very endearing and impactful for my own faith.
Week 2 – Dapi
Going into the second week, we basically had no time for rest/recovery from the exhaustion of the first week. It was literally depart from Nantou on Saturday around 12, arrive at the new camp in Dapi and start our training immediately. I for one was very tired upon arrival, and also a bit confused because this was the first time our church has every worked with this camp, so we had no idea what to expect going in.
First off, my expectation pre-Taiwan for leadership was being sort of a secondary leader during the first week, and being the main leader for the second week. So, coming out of Nantou, I was kind of worried about how much I could lead the second week, even though it was a much more smaller camp. Thankfully, my co-leader Monica took it upon herself to take charge and lead our team of 9 STMer’s now (6 from our church, and 3 from a church in Virginia.) This was actually something that also really boosted my faith as well; I was very encouraged to see her step up and put her trust in God as a leader, even if she didn’t have that much prior experience. So, good job Monica! Also, meeting the other 3 missioners from Virginia was a really awesome experience. I think that it’s pretty daunting to meet people you’ve never met before and in a couple days be out serving the Lord together, but it works through Him. These 3 were awesome, God-loving people and I truly am blessed to have been able to meet them and serve with them, as cliché as that sounds.
For this week, us as STMer’s had a pretty different role compared to last week. While at Nantou, we all held a lot of different responsibilities in the classroom and had many things to take care of, while at this camp it seemed like we weren’t given as much to be in charge of during the week. I actually questioned this a bit, but more on that later.
My overall experience for the second week had its ups and downs. I think as a whole, the camp was very good, and I was able to bond with my kids much more this week than prior. I really enjoyed talking with them and having fun with them, as well as seeing them open up throughout the week. A new experience for me was the fact that we got the opportunity to go and visit them at their homes, since the location we were in is kind of like a rural county, so many of the kids lived really close to the school the camp was at. I was able to go to one of my kid’s house, called Benny, and we just sort of sat and talked with his mother. Benny goes to the church in Dapi, but his parents are not Christian. So it was cool seeing that they were open to him going continuously, instead of forbidding him and forcing him to abide by what they believe in. This was just really cool because I’ve never done it before, so to be able to see his life outside of the camp and how God has been & will be working in his life was pretty encouraging. Lastly, on Saturday morning I got to talk with the kids and tell them a part of my testimony, with the help of translators of course. I think as a whole, this camp did not really emphasize respect and quietness while others speak, especially because in auditorium settings, it seems that kids just continuously talk and play during the time people are speaking on stage. While we tried a lot to keep them quiet, I think for the camp directors to outright say this while up there speaking would contribute a lot. So, before sharing, I gave a little spiel about showing respect to others that are talking, especially if it something personal such as their own testimony. In the end, most listened to my testimony pretty quietly, while others kind of did their own thing. But, it was still awesome because I never really get a lot of opportunities to share my testimony during missions.
Now, onto what I didn’t like too much about the camp. I’ll try to keep this short as to not be super negative LOL. I think structure wise, it was very random at some points. While there was consistency in class time, other things like group games or activities seemed to differ. I guess I usually expect game times to be fully completed in one day, but they spread it out over several days in order to better fit time I’m guessing. Also, what we as STMer’s were to do was kind of up in the air. We were given a range of different things to be in charge of, like leading dancing/game times, or coming up with skits and workshops. So, our main responsibilities were not really in the classroom, but more in aspects of the camp, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different for us. Lastly, a lot of what the camp wanted us to do was given to us not that far in advance, so a lot of the time we felt rushed to complete our skits or other tasks. But, this is all more nitpicking logistics, so if you want to hear more about it hit me up HAHA.
Alright this is kind of a lot of text. Well it’s not really. But it felt like a lot. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read through it all! I definitely have much more to talk about throughout my 2 weeks, but that might be better for an in-person meet up. So if interested in hearing more, just hit me up! But really, thank you to all of you that have supported myself and the rest of us during this trip. It was a nice experience, and being able to witness God at work in such a foreign area really did wonders for my faith and the others included.
Here’s the first verse I lead a devo on during pre-camp, and as important as it is during missions work, it’s just as relevant for us in our everyday lives:
“16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28: 16-18
From Roland, Judy, Allison, and Josie (Belize Mission)