Taiwan remains a stronghold of Buddhism and Taiwanese folk religion. Over 90% of Taiwanese follow some combination of Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and traditional religions. Buddhism now grows strongly among educated professionals. Most traditional folk religions have many gods, and people pay offerings to ghosts or seek advice from the spirit world. Taiwan remains the only major Han Chinese population in the world without a significant spiritual breakthrough. Visitors from mainland China often comment on the spiritual darkness here.
Taiwan is politically open but spiritually closed. Visitors from mainland China often comment on the spiritual darkness and the hardness of people's hearts in Taiwan. Ministry in Taiwan is difficult and fruit is hard won. Taiwan is still the only major Han Chinese population in the world where a significant spiritual breakthrough has not occurred. Only recently has Christianity started growing again after decades of stagnation; Christianity's percentage of the population in 1965 (5.6%) was only surpassed in 2008.
The lack of pastors remains a long-term need. Rural congregations tend to suffer the most. Growing numbers of professionals are actually moving into full-time ministry. There are over 33 seminaries and Bible schools, some with international acclaim such as the China Evangelical Seminary, as well as a number of TEE programmes. There is a nation-wide push to train another 1,000 pastors and church leaders. Pray for a new generation of Christian leaders who are biblically grounded, culturally savvy, humble in character and spiritually empowered.
Youth and university students are generally more open to the gospel. The key to reaching this group of over one million people is dynamic and relevant outreach. The Presbyterians sponsor 60 Christian study groups in universities and churches. Campus Evangelical Fellowship (IFES) has an outreach to students, with 40 full-time staff workers ministering also in secondary schools. Cru has a large campus ministry. Student ministries are training local churches for this kind of ministry; pray for churches to mobilize toward this vision. Pray for these young hearts to grow in maturity as they dedicate their lives for Christ.
The Taiwanese working class is linguistically (Hoklo/Hokkien) and culturally separated from the majority of evangelical churches, which use Mandarin. Economic and social changes in recent years have made life difficult for them. This group comprises 60% of the population, but a mere 0.5% are Christian. They are becoming increasingly responsive to the gospel. OMF, IMB and TIEF are committed to reaching this group.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.