The Church of the Lutheran Brethren sent its first missionaries to China in 1902. After mainland China was closed to missionary work in 1948, Lutheran Brethren International Mission began a ministry in Taiwan where many mainland Chinese fled to escape Communism. Since the arrival of our first missionary family in 1951, several churches have been planted and a seminary begun in cooperation with three other Lutheran missions and four National Churches. We have a growing work and presence among the Hakka people, one of the least evangelized people in Taiwan.
Originally from mainland China, the Hakka migrated to Taiwan early in the 18th century. There are more than three million Hakka people in Taiwan today, most living with all of the modern conveniences that we have in America - from washing machines to cell phones. Materialism is widespread.
At home and in their community, the Hakka of Taiwan use their mother tongue, Hakka, though many can speak Mandarin Chinese. The Hakkas' religious beliefs and customs are similar to those of other traditional Chinese. Ancestor worship is probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks that potential Hakka Christians face. It is generally believed that when a Hakka person becomes a Christian, he forsakes his ancestors and close family relations. Because the Hakka people are very conscious of social pressure, both from their families and neighbors, it takes great determination to follow Jesus. Less than 3/1000 (0.3%) are Christians.
Taiwan at a Glance
data: Operation World (21st edition), Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, 2001
- Area: 36,000 sq. km.; mountainous island; 125 miles off the coast of mainland China
- Population (2000): 22,401,000; 0.77% annual growth; 662 persons per sq. km.
- Languages: 22
- Major Languages: Hakka 10%, Mandarin 20.6%
- Official Language: Mandarin
- Literacy: 94%
- Christian: 6.06%
- Bible Translations: 5 Bibles, 6 NT
- Missionaries To Taiwan: 1,205 in 139 agencies
LB in Taiwan
- First LBIM missionary to Taiwan: 1951
- Area: Northern Taiwan
- Church Statistics: 15 congregations, 12 pastors, 1,626 average Sunday attendance
- Schools: 1 Seminary
- Missionary Involvement: Church Planting
Ethan and Sandy are working to live and speak for God in the city/county of Hsinchu in northwestern Taiwan. They focus their evangelism efforts in Cyonglin, the town where they live, and use both Hakka and Mandarin Chinese in their interactions with others. Ethan is also an adjunct professor at China Lutheran Seminary and a part-time researcher studying the Hakka Chinese and their response to Christianity at the CLS Research Center for Traditional Chinese Religions and New Religious Movements. Ethan began with LBIM in 1990, going to Taiwan. Sandy started in 1987 in Cameroon. They were married in 1992 and went together to Taiwan.
- Ethan, March 10
- Sandy, June 18
Mike and Delores are involved in full-time ministry among the Hakka Chinese. They desire to work with LB churches and individuals who are interested and concerned about reaching their Hakka family and friends for Jesus Christ. Currently they are partnering with Victory LB Church, Hsinchu, to develop ministries specific to Hakka people. Evangelism is done through friendship evangelism and material using traditional Hakka songs and poetry. Mike and Delores have been with LBIM since 1987.
- Mike, January 2
- Delores, October 13