Tea & Shabbat in Taiwan

We traversed Taiwan on a skyscraper-tall superhighway, threading through emerald mountains. Seeing intensive agriculture on the side of many carefully terraced hills, I asked our hosts “What are they growing there?” They replied, “Tea!

Growing tea on these slopes requires vision and long-term investment. Such is the approach of the wise church leaders and ministry teams who became treasured friends during our eventful days with them. We saw the inspiring multiplication of a church network, which now numbers more than 10,000 in its central church in Taipei City, and another 20,000 in daughter churches throughout the nation. They told us, “We want a lasting relationship with you and your people, Eitan. An occasional speaking tour does not interest us. Nor do we want to be mere tourists in Israel.

Everywhere we went our brothers and sisters were thrilled to have contact with Messianic Jews from Israel. The prophetic promises regarding Israel, the Church, and the Last Days were familiar to them, and we were received as living proof that God is keeping His word.

Special hugs

Two years ago I was blessed to see my book, “What About Us?” published in Taiwan’s traditional Chinese. One veteran pastor told me he had read the book three times. It had transformed his understanding of the relationship between Israel and Yeshua’s followers in the nations. That was humbling to hear, but when I joined his congregation in singing “Baruch haBa BaShem Adonai – Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,” I began weeping for joy. Here I was on an island off Asia’s coast, at the “end” of the earth, calling on the Messiah to return and rule all nations. “OK, Lord, it’s all true. Seeing this love and faith regarding Israel’s restoration and the Messiah’s coming – in such a far away place – it’s all GOT to be true.

On the Sabbath Eve of our visit, I was asked to share on “Raising a Family according to Jewish Tradition.” The best way to learn is to experience. So our hosts supplied a table covered with a beautiful cloth, candles, grape juice, and even challah – the braided bread traditionally eaten during the blessings that invoke the peace of the Sabbath. I began chanting the blessings and leading the families through the celebration. There were at least 400 people there – grandparents, moms and dads and their children. We were family together. The atmosphere became homey – intimate, tender, and loving. Clearly the hard-working parents pour themselves out. They want the best for their children, and needed to experience the Sabbath rest in ceasing our own labors. The presence of three generations underscored our covenant inheritance from the God who calls Himself the God of a father (Abraham), a son (Isaac), and a grandson (Jacob).

The next night, at a huge youth meeting, I shared on “Going Beyond your Comfort Zone.” The response was amazing! Hundreds crowded the platform, eager to surrender their entire destiny to God. I couldn’t help thinking about our Israeli youth and the longing for such numbers to turn whole-heartedly to the Lord.

Again and again I was moved by the Taiwanese Christians’ devotion to Yeshua and their sacrificial service to those in need. We saw a storefront “barber shop” where people off the street receive a free haircut. We took part in a worship service that is held weekly for families of special needs children. These families are served during the week with material aid and assistance in the draining challenge of caring for their loved ones. I was asked to pronounce a blessing over them. As I explained the Aaronic Benediction from Numbers 6, my heart overflowed with affection for the young people – each with a different limitation, a different set of genetic challenges. I felt God’s love and personal care for each of them. After hearing the blessing sung in Hebrew, they began hugging me, squeezing me with a tangible, honest love. I was undone. Our Taiwanese friends showed me what true compassion is – a healthy reminder for a man from the Tents of Mercy.

This article was originally published in Israel’s Restoration October 2015 Newsletter.