Joshua Chen is a missionary since 2009 and currently is in Taiwan ministering to the youth there. Prior to that, he was working in the marketplace in computer technology but has since heeded the call of God to go to Taiwan and reveal the Father Heart of God to His children. While it has only been a few years since he started, it feels like the journey has just begun!
Photography courtesy of Joshua Chen. All Rights Reserved.
Twenty-three million people call Taiwan home and over one-third are practicing Buddhists. Only 5% call themselves Christians. Of those 5%, half are regular church goers, meaning there are only approximately 600,000 Christians in Taiwan. Percentage wise, Taiwan is less Christian than China (China is 10% Christian)!
I tell you these things because in my years of going to Taiwan, there has been a revival growing in the hearts of the people. Pastor after pastor has remarked that the Gospel is easier to preach now than ever before. The Taiwanese are more receptive to the message and are willing to hear the truth of God's Word. I have seen this with my own eyes.
From visiting English camps in the mountains of southern Taiwan, to prisons in Kaohsiung City, I have seen whole groups of prisoners publicly declare that they need Jesus. I have seen children 7-years-old raise their hands to praise the God they didn’t know at all before. There are prayer meetings that occur all over the country where thousands of people gather to intercede for Taiwan and pray for revival.
Just recently, a prayer house started in September 2009 with the goal of having prayer be continuous, 24-7. There IS a revival that is happening in Taiwan, and the question has always remained in my mind: "Will you be a part of this?"
First, a little about myself. I grew up in a Christian home. My grandfather was the pastor of the church that I grew up in and my relatives were all heavily involved in the church. Growing up in the church has been a mixed blessing. On one hand, I have a heritage of believers who truly love the Lord. On the other hand, sometimes I question whether or not my faith was because of my environment or if it was truly my own. I did all the “good things” and never strayed too far from the faith. But even growing up in the church, you know what to do to “look good” but not have any meaning behind it. This pattern of doing things to be the good Christian boy was my M.O. up through high school.
Going to college, being the first time I was away from home, I found that my faith was being tested. I had to make a choice whether or not this faith was my own, or if it was a product of my family and my environment. After much struggling, I finally chose the faith and made it my own. I was on the way to what I thought was going to be a great Christian life. I attended bible studies and gradually matured in my spiritual walk only to plateau and find myself just going through the motions again.
During my junior year I went to a missions conference called Urbana that is held every 3 years. 20,000 people gathered together from 120 different countries to talk about missions and the command for Jesus to go forth to all the nations. I remember this clearly as when I walked into the stadium for the first time and heard God say to me as I walked in looking at all the people who were gathered in the stadium, “See josh? All these people bend their knee to me. 20,000 people. And this is but a fraction of the believers all around the world. Do you understand how BIG a God that you serve? It is time that you stop being fed, it i time that you start to serve.”
So I did. I stopped just going to bible study and started to lead. I learned guitar and started playing on the worship team and eventually started leading worship for a college ministry called InterVarsity during my senior year. God met me in these acts of service and leadership and grew me to a more intimate knowledge of who God is and His heart for those who love Him.
After graduation, I worked at various computer companies consulting, running my own company for a little while and enjoying it immensely. But the fire of missions never burned out. Every time I would hear a missionary, my heart would burn. I knew that missions was in my future. I just didn’t know when.
The years passed by as I worked towards the American Dream. The more I strived towards the Dream, the more I grew disillusioned to it. I had a pretty good life. A life that people would envy. Great job, house(s), car, good family, great church and friends all over. But in the midst of all this abundance, I ended up taking a vacation to Taiwan in 2007 because my heart was dissatisfied. It was during this time that God opened my eyes to see what spiritual warfare was really about and that trip impacted me deeply. 3 months went by. Then 6 months. 9 months. I couldn’t stop thinking about Taiwan. I knew that God had put this on my heart and wanted me to go to Taiwan, but like Jonah, I resisted. I refused to commit fully to the work that God wanted me to do. And like Jonah, God relentlessly pursued me and would not give me rest.
I went back to Taiwan in 2008 for confirmation that God really wanted me to stay for a longer period of time. I came back convinced that I was supposed to stay, but I wanted to take care of some life details first.
In 2009, I was still struggling with how to get back to Taiwan and stay longer, and during my third trip to 2009, the Lord called me out of the corporate world where I had been for nearly 15 years to go on a different journey with Him. What made me leave my awesome job and go to a country that I hadn't been to in 30 years? I can't explain it except that God has called me. There isn't any other reason I would leave my life behind and go halfway around the world to Taiwan where I didn't have many connections or support.
There in Taiwan, God grabbed my heart and explained, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). He said, “but you have a choice. You can come and be a part of what I’m doing here in Taiwan, or not. But know this. If you do not come, help will arise from another place.” It was so clear!
I realized that living and having life are two different things. I relented and told the Lord, "Ok. I'll come. It's time I stop fighting."
So my journey now takes me to southern Taiwan where I will stay until the Lord calls me otherwise. I will be partnering with local churches in the area, mentoring the youth who attend the church and ministering to surrounding areas and I will be partnering with the 24-7 prayer house to foster places of prayer to bring encounters with God to those who go. Because I will not know the local language, Mandarin Chinese, I will be taking language courses while I am in Taiwan to become fluent. (My parents would be proud.)
So my question to you is this: "Will you be a part of this?" Follow me in this journey that God is taking me. Be a part of God's work all the way across the world, impacting youth for the future and revealing the Father Heart of God to those who may have never experienced it!
So what am I doing now? I'm Making Disciples! What does that mean really? I serve primarily in the southern portion of Taiwan (Tainan and Kaohsiung), ministering at various churches in the area, connecting with Youth Groups in the churches as churches in Taiwan are very small and most of them do not have a youth leader besides the Senior Pastor.
What does it mean to "make a disciple?" I believe that a disciple is "one who has a life changing encounter with God". It's a person that has been deeply marked by an encounter with a living God and experienced His heart for them and His passionate love for them out of His goodness! That is what I am pressing towards. Making disciples. How? By CONTENDING for them in PRAYER, TEACHING them the WORD, LOVING them in word and deed and MODELING a lifestyle that places the importance of PRESENCE over PERFORMANCE, so that they can ENCOUNTER GOD. Through Bible Studies, Prayer Rooms, 1-1 Discipleship and RELATIONSHIP, I pray that this generation will become ones who love well because they have encountered the living God that loves perfectly!