When I travelled to Taiwan in 2011 with two seminary students on a short-term visit, our aim was to find out about OMF Taiwan’s work and to see the opportunities for ministry among migrant workers from my home country.
We visited parks, a hospital and other places where the workers congregated. We spent a lot of time meeting and chatting with care-givers who took their elderly employers to the park in the cool of the mid-morning or afternoon. As we were from the same country, we were able to build relationships pretty quickly. We would talk about their villages and families, and how long they had been working in Taiwan.
Migrant workers have to face many problems, with few people to turn to for help. Most are not prepared for living in a different culture or equipped to understand different world-views.
I understand these problems because I was in that position myself.
Learning by experience
In 1995 I went to work overseas as a domestic helper for a local family. Their culture was very different from mine, as was their religion. Even learning to use the household appliances in their home was a challenge. Maids, however, are expected to adapt very quickly!
While I was there, my employer’s eldest daughter invited me to church. Of course I declined because I was a Muslim, like most people in my country. However, while I was practising using my computer and surfing the internet I found an article from The-Good-Way.com. It was a testimony from a former Muslim explaining from the Quran and the Gospel of John about Jesus.
To cut a long story short, I came to realise who Jesus was and what he has done for me and for everyone on earth.
I also met members of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students team serving overseas workers. They connected me with a local church that was just about to start a migrant worker ministry. I joined and began helping the church. After nine years I thought of going back home but was offered an internship at the church. Two years later, I was accepted by a local Bible College to study for a Diploma in Theology.
Moving to Taiwan
I was starting my third year in Bible College when I heard about the needs in Taiwan.
Teo Sin Ee, a Singaporean OMF team member serving in Taipei told me about the many migrant workers there. I was interested to learn more, so arranged to visit just before graduation.
When I returned from the trip, I started praying that God would show me if it was his will for me to serve in Taiwan. I had my own reasons not to serve there, but God opened the way to go and impressed on my heart that I should go. So I went. I joined OMF in 2012 and landed in Taipei in early August that year to begin Mandarin language study.
Now, five years later, I meet women from my home country everywhere: in the market, in the park and at the many restaurants near the train stations. I also regularly meet with a handful of ladies in a church in Taichung. They are able to meet up with me and other friends for chats, craft or Mandarin lessons – even though they only have one day
off a month.
Currently there are over 200,000 migrant workers from my home country living in Taiwan. Most of the women work as maids, looking after elderly people, while the men work in factories or on fishing boats.
In Taiwan more and more churches and organisations are gaining a vision for mission. They are seeing that God has brought migrant workers from various countries to Taiwan, providing an opportunity for them to hear the gospel. As a result of this awareness, I’ve been able to share the needs with some churches, mostly in Taipei and Taichung.
A window of opportunity
This window of opportunity, to make Christ known to people while they are working overseas, may not be open forever. I believe it is a moment that we need to grasp. Christ’s servants in Taiwan can love the migrant workers through providing help in language and culture. They also need to be equipped to explain the good news in an appropriate way. Migrant workers from my country, many of whom are Muslims, often know of the writings of the Old Testament prophets, so starting there can help bring the message closer to their hearts. I also believe if you truly have a heart for people and love them in Christ, they will be able to appreciate your sincerity and genuine love for them. Could you come and work alongside me in this ministry?