Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Taiwan: Opportunities for Teaching

Upon our arrival in Taiwan, it became evident that some of our missionaries and co-workers were  unclear as to what my role was to be. Before we left the US, our area director Dr Belote, had indicated that some of my responsibilities could include assisting churches with their music needs, teaching some classes at the Baptist Seminary, and working at times at Baptist Radio-TV Studio. So, Seminary staff expected me to spend my time there, the Radio TV ministry director wanted me to be there full-time, and of course those working with the churches were preparing for me to use my gifts and talents in that area of ministry. As it turned out, during our years in Taiwan, I did indeed work in all three areas, often during the same time period.
Pictures of Nannette and I in a village near Chaiyi. We used an autoharp to sing with the children. Missionary Bob Greene had invited us to accompany him to the village where he ministered.

To be truthful, I felt called to work directly with the churches, and focused my attention on their needs. Of course, I began working with the Studio while I was studying language, but at the same time, I responded to requests to assist with training for those directing the church's choirs. While I had expected to be able to share my vocal talent in the worship of various churches, I was surprised that I was never invited to do so. When I asked why, a pastor informed me that they preferred the music of the choir, since no one person's voice would stand out, tempting one to be prideful. I innocently asked "Then why do you only have one person to preach?" No answer was given in response. But when I was asked to preach in some of the churches, I did take advantage of the opportunity to establish good relationships with the pastors. And, at times Nannette and I were asked to sing for weddings.

After several  years on the field, I was formally invited by the Chairman of the Music Department at the Seminary to come direct the Seminary Choir. It proved to be a real challenge, since rehearsal time was after the last class period and prior to the evening meal, and every student was required to participate.. We had 45 minutes twice each week to prepare music for a Christmas program. Some of my most memorable experiences came from directing this group. From the first rehearsal to the final performance, it seemed each of the students was intent on giving their best effort for the Lord and for their school.
Due to their diligence, the group was able to achieve a high level of success, singing some of the choral classics as well as indigenous Chinese hymns, and a few compositions by Dr Chang, Music School Chairman. Below are some photos of the Seminary Music Building, and the Seminary Choir in rehearsal and singing for the Baptist Convention.

Later, I was asked by Dr Chang to teach a few courses in Church Music, taxing my language ability. The time came for Dr Chang to go to the US to pursue his doctorate. Imagine my surprise when I was invited to serve as Chairman of the Music School during his absence. What a responsibility! But Father demonstrated His love and mercy so that the school survived the intervening months until Dr. Chang returned with his diploma in hand. We all rejoiced, and I continued teaching part-time at the Seminary and directing the Seminary Choir.

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