2009 is coming to an end and 2010 is beginning. Much happened this year: my 4 months sabbatical with trips to Germany and Israel, growth at Dayspring Church and the beginning of a major restructure. Finally I visited Vancouver for a Chinese Conference and preached at Riverlife Church in Singapore. Katharina made big progress with her violin play and Andreas is becoming a skilled basketball player. December 27th we will have one more baptism in the church, which adds up to 22 people having been baptist in our church this year – praise the Lord! What will the next year bring? On my heart are the following things: for family: kids progress in their German language. Family life: a healthy balance between work/ministry and rest. Ministry: continue restructuring of the church, so that we can move into the next phase of church growth with strength, joy and knowing that God is building His Church!
November 2009. This month I will preach in the North of Taiwan (Zhong Li), and then in Singapore at Riverlife Church. Katharina is getting ready for her first major violin performance of a Vivaldi Sonata with Mom on the piano. It is a student concert in one of the best music halls in town. With the church we are getting ready for Christmas. It is always a chance to invite new friends. We will have Christmas events for kids, youth and adults. Last Sunday we had 7 people getting baptized. So, church is still continuing to grow.
Canada: Chinese Gathering in Vancouver. I met old friends and made new friends. Meeting with my spiritual father, Pastor Gideon Chiu and Pastor David Demian (see pictures) was a great joy. I joined the worship team, playing saxophone, and witnessed how God spoke to a large Chinese crowd of Christians from all over the world. The message came quite clear, namely that Chinese Christians are called to rise up in unity and play their part in such a time as this as the gospel is moving towards Muslim and Arab countries. I felt a confirmation of why God led me to Taiwan and kept me here since then. These 10 days I also reconnected with friends from the time when I studied in Canada, now more than 13 years ago.
August 2009: The new virus hit us finally as a family and as a church. Andreas and Katharina are both at home with fever and need to spend 7 days isolated. Same for us as parents. I am working from home and even on SUnday I will share a message via video and will speak to the church on Skype, using the internet.
Recently, a big Taifun swept over Taiwan with many people dead or missing, villages buried in mud and no tab-water for several days, due to dirty ground water. Our church sent 65 people to help villages in the south clean up houses and schools. A reminder of the fragility of life! We were protected and experienced “only” the inconvenience of having no water for 5 days – a good lesson for us all on the importance of clean water!
MINISTRY. I am looking ahead to some major challenges in our ministry. Since we moved to our new facilities, we learned to deal with a wider range of tasks, like facility management and restructuring of ministries due to our growth. We still run one youth service on Saturday evening and 2 adult services on Sunday morning.
A new challenge ahead is that our children Pastor (Ps. Christine) is taking a one year break. In addition, our youth leader Annette gave birth to her 2nd child and will be taking a break from active ministry soon. Recently, I decided to coach our Praise and Worship team since there are big needs especially in the area of piano and group dynamic. Having said that, it means that I will be involved in almost every ministry at least for the next few months. It is a chance to unify children, youth and adult vision at Dayspring Church. It is also a challenge to improve my leadership skills and focus on my gifts, while getting my coworkers involved in those areas where I need support.
FAMILY. This summer, Katharina and Andreas used our time in Tainan to take swimming lessons and to study every day German with me. We used the early morning hours before I go to the office. Katharina just bought a bigger size violin and has a new violin teacher. Her old teacher moved to Canada and so we decided to send her to one of the top teachers in town. I hope with this investment to open the door for her to go towards a more professional vision with her music. Wei-Chao is also preparing for some recording with a violinist in September. As for me, I started again to play soccer on Wednesday night with a team of foreigners. With this kind of exercise, my body feels much better, and I am not getting tired as easy. We love our kids, but honestly, it is a tuff time and there are many days where I feel exhausted and could use a bit more encouragement and help. On the other hand, I know that this is a crucial time to invest into the character and future of our children. This is why one of my great desires is to bring them back to Germany during their holidays. This is the only way to grow up with not just a Taiwanese background, but also to benefit of their identity of being German. Growing up with 2 cultures and learning the best from both, could be a very powerful foundation for their whole life.
Balancing family and ministry will be the key for our lives. Please pray for us. We need every help and encouragement that is possible! Thank you, Johannes!