Refreshing Growth on a Beautiful Island

VISITORS to Taiwan cannot help but be impressed by the verdant tropical growth covering the island. The beautiful green of young rice plants ripens to golden at harvesttime. Thick, luxuriant forests cover the mountainsides. In contrast with the crowded cities, the lush green growth in the fields and mountains proves to be most refreshing. After all, that was what moved the first Westerner who saw the island to choose the name Ilha Formosa, or “Island Beautiful.”

Yes, Taiwan is a beautiful but small island​—just 240 miles [390 km] long and about 100 miles [160 km] across at the widest point. High mountains cover most of the island. Yü Shan (Mount Morrison) is higher than Japan’s Mount Fuji or New Zealand’s Mount Cook. Surrounding the central mountains and reaching down to the sea are narrow coastal plains, teeming with Taiwan’s bustling population, which is now well over 22 million.

A New Kind of Growth

There is, however, another kind of growth that is becoming more and more evident in Taiwan​—spiritual growth. This is reflected in the zeal that people, young and old, display once they come to know the true God, Jehovah. It is truly impressive to observe the growth in the number of those who are zealously working to help others learn about Jehovah and his purpose.

Growth necessitates expansion. In December 1990, property was purchased for an enlarged branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The former facility, located in Taipei, had become too limited for looking after the activities of the 1,777 Kingdom publishers in Taiwan at that time. After several years of diligent work by international and local  volunteers of all age groups, the fine new facilities at Hsinwu were ready for use in August 1994. By that time there were 2,515 sharing in spreading the good news from God’s Word, the Bible. Now, over ten years later, this number has more than doubled, passing the 5,500 mark, and every month about one quarter of that number are sharing in the full-time evangelizing work. Of special note are the young men and women who are like refreshing morning “dewdrops.”​—Psalm 110:3.

Spiritual Growth Among the Young

Many of the zealous publishers of the good news are quite young. Some are grade-school students. For example, in a town in northern Taiwan, a married couple were invited for the first time to attend the Theocratic Ministry School, where Jehovah’s Witnesses learn how to teach Bible truths. The couple were astounded to see a small boy, Weijun, read the Bible from the platform more skillfully than many adults could. Then at the other meetings they attended, they were deeply impressed that even preschool children gave intelligent answers. This couple commented on how well-behaved the young children at the Kingdom Hall are.

Why are these young ones so focused on Bible education in this predominantly Buddhist and Taoist country? It is because their Christian parents have applied Bible principles and have built a happy family life centered on a relationship with Jehovah. Because Weijun’s parents endeavor to make the family Bible study and the field ministry enjoyable, this little boy’s older brother and sister are already baptized Witnesses. When Weijun recently asked to share in the public preaching work, his mother commented that the boy had already placed more magazines that month than the rest of the family put together. He obviously enjoys talking about the truth, commenting at meetings, and sharing with others what he has learned.

As They Grow Older

How do such young ones do as they grow older? Most continue to show real love for Jehovah and for the ministry. For example, Huiping is a student. One day her teacher mentioned that members of one religion would not accept blood but that he did not know who they were. After the class was dismissed, this young Christian explained to her teacher that they are Jehovah’s Witnesses and why they take such a stand.

Another instructor showed a video on sexually transmitted diseases. The video mentioned 1 Corinthians 6:9, but she claimed that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. Again Huiping was able to present to the instructor God’s view of the matter.

When classmate Shuxia was preparing a report on family violence, Huiping gave her the November 8, 2001, Awake! with the cover title “Help for Battered Women” and explained that it contained much Bible-based information on the subject. In time, Shuxia became an unbaptized publisher. She and Huiping now share the good news with others.

Many Christians in school find that it is not easy to be known as people who live by Bible principles. This is especially so in small rural towns. Zhihao had to deal with peer pressure because of his faith and preaching activity. He says: “I felt so frustrated that I feared meeting my classmates while I was engaging in the ministry. At times, there would be ten of them taunting me!” One day, the teacher assigned Zhihao  to give a talk about his religion to the class. “I decided to start my talk with Genesis chapter 1 and then discuss such questions as: Who made the earth and all the things in it? And how did man come to be? As soon as I read from the Scriptures, some started to laugh at me, saying I was superstitious. However, I went on and finished my presentation. Afterward, I had the opportunity to speak with some of my classmates personally about our work and our faith. Now, when they see me in the ministry, they no longer laugh at me!”

Zhihao continues: “Because my parents are Witnesses, we discuss the daily text every morning. We also study the Bible and attend meetings regularly. That is why I can face up to any who might still want to taunt me when I am trying to share refreshing Bible truths with others.”

Tingmei is a student at a girls’ technical school. Once she was invited to go on a picnic with some of her classmates together with boys from a boys’ school. She could see the moral danger in such association and declined to go. She was invited several times, even though she shared with her classmates fine material from the book Questions Young People Ask​—Answers That Work. * The girls ridiculed her, saying that she was old-fashioned. However, the wisdom of following Bible principles was soon borne out when one of the girls became pregnant and had an abortion. Tingmei says: “Doing what Jehovah directs has given me a clean conscience. As a result, I have inner joy and a feeling of deep satisfaction.”

Overcoming Obstacles to Growth

One of Tingmei’s close friends is Ruiwen. In her younger days, Ruiwen felt that going to Christian meetings and sharing in the field ministry was just a wearisome routine. However, seeing the contrast between the genuine love of those in her congregation and the shallow friendship of her classmates, she became convinced that she needed to make some changes in her life. Ruiwen began to preach to her schoolmates and soon saw more clearly what she should do. She started to serve as an auxiliary pioneer, spending more than 50 hours a month in the ministry. Then she began to  regular pioneer, spending more than 70 hours a month in service. Ruiwen says: “It is hard for me to express my gratitude to Jehovah. He never gave up on me. Even though I did things that disappointed him, he still loved me. My mother and others in the congregation showed the same loving attitude. Now that I am conducting five Bible studies, I feel that I am involved in the most satisfying work.”

In one rural high school, two Witness children were assigned to represent the school in a folk-dance contest. When they learned about the nature of the contest, the Witness youths felt that taking part would violate their Christian conscience. When they tried to explain their view and asked to be excused, their request was denied. Instead, the teachers told them that because they were assigned, they must go. Not about to compromise, the Witness youths logged on to the education department’s Web site and sent a letter explaining their problem. Though the youths did not get a personal reply, the school soon received direction not to force anyone to share in such a contest. How happy these two youngsters were to see that the Bible training they had received not only molded their conscience but also gave them the strength to take their stand for what is right!

Even those with physical limitations take great pleasure in sharing their Bible hope with others. Minyu has been paralyzed since birth. Not able to use her hands, she turns the pages of the Bible with her tongue and finds the text she wants to read. During her talk assignments in the Theocratic Ministry School at the Kingdom Hall, she lies on a low couch, and her assistant sits on a low stool and holds the microphone for her. How heartwarming to see the effort Minyu puts into these talks!

When Minyu wanted to become a Kingdom publisher, some sisters in the congregation learned how to do telephone witnessing in order to help her. She presses the buttons with her tongue while the sisters help her keep a record of her calls. She enjoys the work so much that she has become an auxiliary pioneer, talking to others about God’s Kingdom 50 to 60 hours each month over the phone. She has found some who accept Bible literature and allow her to make return calls. She is now conducting three Bible studies with individuals whom she contacted in this way.

Yes, like refreshing dewdrops, the young men​—and women—​in the 78 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taiwan are willingly and zealously bringing the life-sustaining Kingdom good news to the teeming millions on this crowded island. This is only a small part of the worldwide fulfillment of the following Bible prophecy: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, you have your company of young men just like dewdrops.” (Psalm 110:3) What a source of encouragement these young people are to the older ones among their fellow workers, and above all, what a source of joy they are to their heavenly Father, Jehovah God!​—Proverbs 27:11.

[Footnote]

^ par. 16 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[Box/​Picture on page 10]

MORE KINGDOM HALLS NEEDED

With the growth in Taiwan, the need for more Kingdom Halls has become a great challenge. Why? Because except in some rural areas, land suitable for building Kingdom Halls is almost nonexistent. Besides, land prices are exorbitant, and zoning laws are strict. In larger towns and cities, the only recourse is to purchase office spaces and convert them into Kingdom Halls. Even so, most offices have very low ceilings, high maintenance fees, restricted entry, or other factors that make them unsuitable for use as Kingdom Halls.

Still, in recent years, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taiwan have been able to acquire a number of new Kingdom Halls. The search for new property goes on as the Witnesses show themselves willing to take on the financial responsibility as well as to develop the necessary building skills.