07/14/2014, 00.00
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Mission in Taiwan and China through families and vacations

by Xin Yage
Mission is no longer delegated to religious, or priests. It is a dimension of the everyday life of the faithful. The testimony of Filipino domestic workers has led to the conversion of many of their employers. Families also bring their Christian faith on holiday to China.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - During the two months of May and June in three parishes in the center of Taipei summer missionary meetings were held to foster formation on a particular subject: families. This is part of the new "trend" of family to family mission. It is most certainly not just a "fad".

In reality there have been "anonymous" people among the missionaries , since the beginning of Christianity in the sense that they helped to spread the faith, but are not necessarily remembered in the annals of Church history. Even the protagonists of today's mission in China are groups of families interviewed in this article, who want to remain anonymous so as not to hinder the efficacy of their work.

"The path of the mission evolves and adapts to different times and contexts. What is recently developing, although it is not a novelty, is the role of families in mission," says a couple, married with children, who live on the outskirts of Taipei .

The husband begins to outline their missionary context: "One could speak of three stages. Firstly there was a time - which still continues today - in which the protagonists were mainly men and women religious and clergy, the typical western missionary who went to distant countries (and in those days they were really far away).

Then the second-stage - in recent decades, especially in the Asian context, with migration in search of work of many Filipino Catholics, the missionaries in closest contact with families were, and still are, babysitters and  domestic workers employed in various families".

And this is certainly true, if we consider the statistics of those who are baptized in Taiwan. The role of foreign Christians, especially Filipinos, in conversions is an undeniable fact.

"But now there is what we call the 'third phase': we families are taking on responsibility for the missionary proclamation" says the husband.  His wife explains where this willingness to cooperate in the mission of the church comes from: "Taiwan is a rather unique case, because since the fifties a huge number of religious and missionaries settled on the island after leaving mainland of China".

Thanks to the opening of many new parishes, schools and charitable institutions to aid the vulnerable population, many new Catholics have been formed and have passed on the faith and religious belonging. Now this new generation of families want to try to "give back" what they have received from the work of many missionaries.

"We believe that we have a gift to transmit - says another young catechist, who is also the mother of a family and participates in the project 'families on mission' - we received a valuable formation here in Taiwan, and we can bring this to the continent through forms new mission".

She goes into further detail: "For some years now we have had a 'missionary holiday '.  In other words we go on vacation with our children inviting other families on the continent who are interested in the proposal of the  faith. We spend time with them and have a lot of fun, but we also share simple moments of prayer, and then moments of reflection on the Gospel and on other important messages that come to us from the Church. There are lots of questions we get asked, but we mainly propose a friendship that is then propagated to many other families, their friends and acquaintances in their provinces and their cities of origin. All of this helps to spread the faith and to strengthen ties in the various communities, and the whole thing comes from a very simple way of sharing one or two weeks during the summer. "

The advantage they have in this experience is the Taiwanese language. "An advantage of no small importance" - says one of the pastors who supports the project - "Mandarin Chinese is the language that we use at school and at work. Whilst for example those coming from Hong Kong must move from Cantonese to Mandarin, it is absolutely natural for us to communicate in Chinese. It's all very easy and certainly very fruitful, because you can get to talk about many complex issues without being misunderstood. This advantage should never to be underestimated. "

The paths of mission are so many, and this, 'mission of families' is certainly one of those that mark the path of the future.



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