Taiwan Church News
April 11 – 17, 2016
Now Jesus Is Standing By Us
Many Taiwan cities and counties set up April 7 as a Freedom of Speech Day, in order to commemorate the self-immolation of Mr Cheng Nylon 27 years ago for his martyrdom of pursuing the ideal of “100% freedom of speech”. When Mr Cheng endured an unspeakable pain in the burning flames, his resistant body still stretched straight without bending to surrender. Though his burnt down body was dead then, no body left the blazed site without tears or shocks.
In the news or coverage of contemporary mainstream media, which were no less different from the government propaganda, this self-immolation event was described as an event of rebel. United Evening News wrote in a wishful guess, “After Cheng Nylon ignited a gasoline bomb, he seems run out of his mind. Except attacking the police, he also assaults his colleagues of the magazine”. Carrying with kinds of unbelievable conspiracy stories, rumors then always hinted that this blazing event was started from Nylon’s attack of the police.
But, the paradox of history just lies in this story. Even though KMT government firmly gripped the state machine and media for decades, Nylon’s pursuit of freedom cannot be stopped eventually. A defiant protest in flame, though, this fiery thrust broke down the iron-hands of an authoritarian regime and woke up the mind of those aspiring freedom yet in slumber. Now, what Nylon most insisted and treasured as our basic rights – “freedom of speech” and “Taiwan independence” have become Taiwan’s most important spiritual assets.
In contrast with a totalitarian but failed KMT, overwhelmed by Taiwan’s democracy, PCT seems to receive a mock by our Lord God. In Taiwan’s pursuit of democracy, most PCT churches actually do not perform well on their duty. What they have successfully done are just living a quiet and mediocre life inside church walls! Only a few PCT pastors are called to step into Taiwan’s history. Maybe this is a historical coincidence, or maybe this is a decision after their deliberate thought. Whatsoever, these brave PCT pastors take up their cross, and such decisions impress deep into the heart of Taiwanese people. Now, if Taiwan’s democratic success is mentioned, the contribution of PCT will never be forgot.
Even though PCT’s modern engagement in a democratic Taiwan is described as a black humor joked by our Lord God, as a matter of fact, it is a proof of the power of our Almighty God. Because even most PCT church live a mediocre life in Taiwan’s modern history, the cross is raised high anyhow. The remained problem are, whether today’s PCT is conscious about such amazing grace or how can PCT carry on such good witness in the future? Of what kinds of legacy could we still boast, except the missionary glories left by our forebears in faith?
Diverse voices and opinions seem inevitable for a huge institute like PCT, which has over 1,000 local congregations across Taiwan. And PCT’s leadership in collegiate council, a cooperative management being held by the elders, is basically different from those traditional hierarchy system or linear leadership in charisma. Initially, in order to search the Lord’s will in diverse points of view and avoid the danger of idolization, it was a good-will for PCT to practice a council system in church management. It also demonstrates PCT’s theological roots in faith: a confession of our sins and weakness. But, it seems the tide turns, some PCT churches do not even remember their stance and start to play the old game of hierarchy leadership. Even worse, there comes the crisis of dictatorship in the church leadership, expelling all people with different opinions as heretics and boasting the leaders themselves as the prophet of the Lord.
At this very moment, when Mr Cheng Nylon is commemorated for his extraordinary sacrifice for Taiwan’s freedom of speech and PCT is also remembered for her past contribution to Taiwan’s democracy, let us be humble again and do not forget we are just the pardoned sinners! In his own time, Jesus was also judged as a trouble maker who had to be removed anyway. Maybe now he is standing by us and reminding us something very hard to digest!