The first China Inland Mission (CIM) missionaries came to Taiwan from China in 1951. Those were turbulent days. China had fallen to the Communists and it was hoped that the regime would not last long. As a result, missionaries jumped in to do whatever they could in Taiwan.
Because these CIM missionaries already spoke Mandarin, CIMers gravitated to work among Chinese ex-soldiers and other refugees from the mainland, rather than the local Taiwanese. Dispirited, discouraged and lonely, these Chinese refugees were unusually open to the gospel.
Since OMF has traditionally worked through local churches and organizations it is not easy to measure the contribution OMF missioanries have made ot the church in Taiwan. Much of the impact has been through the changed lives of individuals, many of whom are now church leaders.
The most visible contributions to the kingdom of God in Taiwan have been through the following milestones:
1957 – Campus Evangelical Fellowship (CEF) was established with OMF assistance. This student organisation is now a major force for evangelism and discipleship in Taiwan.
1969 – OMF missionaries began the first “industrial evangelism ” to Taiwan’s factory workers. These efforts helped open the eyes of the Chinese church to this need. In response, the Taiwan Industrial Evangelical Fellowship (TIEF) was founded in 1979.
1972 – OMF Taiwan’s literature ministry became a branch of the Hong Kong-based Christian Communications Limited.
1977 – OMF helped established a Gospel Center for factory workers in the Tantze Export Processing Zone.
1981 – The Hsinchung Gospel Center was established in cooperation with TIEF.
1991 – “The Spring,” a worship and witness center for street people, was established in the Wanhua District of Taipei and handed over to Taiwanese leadership in 2004.
2000 – OMF instigated the establishment of an AIDS hospice, “The House of Mercy.”
2002 – A decision was made to commit all of OMF Taiwan's resources on ministry to Taiwan's working class, including urban marginalised people.
It is clear that successes on the field are related to the personal qualities of the missionaries involved. In addition to spiritual maturity, successful missionaries have generally possessed:
- Vision – they identified something God was calling them to do.
- Initiative – they took action on their vision.
- Chinese Co-workers – they forged positive working relationships with Chinese colleagues.
- Ministry Experience
The availability of personnel has been a major factor in the development of Taiwan’s work. Tribal ministry did not develop the way it had been hoped because new recruits did not feel called to it. But church planting has expanded in recent years due to a number of new recruits who have been interested in it.
The choice of language has had a definite influence on the direction of OMF’s work here. Since a majority of Taiwan OMFers first study Mandarin, most of OMF’s ministry has been in Taiwan’s Mandarin-speaking community. This has changed in recent years, as there has been an increased emphasis on learning Taiwanese.
Throughout its history in Taiwan, OMF has sought to partner, rather than compete with the established churches. As a result, OMF has been accepted very warmly by the Chinese church. OMF’s policy in this area has created many open doors for ministry, but it has also made the work more complicated. Partnership is often difficult across cultures, especially when visions conflict.
OMF continues to partner with local Christians and organisations in the current focus on reaching working class and marginalized people.