Monday, December 14, 2009

English Worship and Mental Hospitals

We are now 5 weeks into leading the English Worship Service. Some of you know about Pastor SS and the small town he ministers to. Pastor SS came to me recently with a dream of his to have an English Worship service. In his mind, there were enough foreigners in the area now to justify it, and he hoped some of his youth group would attend as well. He asked me to lead it. I was hesitant at first… I didn't really come here to lead an English worship for foreigners.

On our first Sunday we had around 30 people, half foreign and half locals Hakka youth and young adults. The local colleges and English cram schools supplied the foreigners. Local interest was better than I had imagined. We average about 20 to 25 each Sunday and new faces show up all the time. Because of the nature of college students, their research, and their part time jobs, we don't see them as regularly as we would like, but none of them have been one-time-only visitors! We have even had a few Hakka and Taiwanese state that this was becoming their primary worship time because they appreciated the message being preached there.

Our little congregation has been praying for Mr. R for a few months now. Mr. R is a Hakka man that has some strong anger issues and depression that have caused him a great deal of sorrow in his life and forced him into deeper and deeper isolation. He once came to my house, where I shared the Gospel with him and he pretty firmly rejected it because Buddha would just "give him what he wants," rather than having to "serve" Jesus. Mr. R stopped coming to the house even though he often asked about me when he saw friends.

Last week a friend informed me that Mr. R has been hospitalized in another town for his deepening mental illness. Ms. T, a devoted Hakka believer some of you may know, took a group of four Taiwanese Christians, including herself, up to see Mr. R. She drove the hour and a half to take some folks to see a guy that is not really all that lovable and who had shown them a lot of anger and rejection.

While visiting Mr. R in his hospital room, Ms. T took the opportunity to share the Gospel message with him again. This time things were different. This time Mr. R knew of his own sinfulness, the pain that it had caused him and his family. This time Mr. R had a few weeks of the Holy Spirit reminding him of the things he had heard from Mr. E and Michael and others. This time Mr. R prayed to receive Jesus Christ into his heart.

The man in the next bed over also prayed to receive Jesus into his heart!

Mr. R says he will be joining us now in Bible Study and Worship, just as soon as he comes home. Ms. T did some discipling too, telling him to listen to the Doctors and continue his medications and counseling, and that we would be there to help him.

Pray for Mr. R and his hospital roommate as they face their own issues… and give thanks that they do not have to face them alone now. Give thanks that they can now face them with a new life in Christ.

Pray for Ms. T and give thanks for her boldness to share. Praise the Lord that we are seeing people like Ms. T and Mr. E… just as we have always hoped… Taiwanese Christians sharing Jesus with Taiwanese in their own language and with their own culture but with the full life of Jesus guiding them.

Pray for our new English speaking congregation as they grow and learn to be a family in Christ, serving their community and sharing Jesus.

Merry Christmas!
Michael & Sandy Haggard

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