Summer/Fall  2000
Volume 5 Number 1

 

By John McCall

On that first Easter Sunday in Taiwan I found myself walking along a dark road down to the Pacific beach with old folks, middle-aged folks, and teenagers.  The moon and one star were bright.  When we arrived at the beach the waves were lapping against the shore.  I began leading them through a meditation about the first Easter morning,  Various folks read aloud from their tribal-language Bibles, and then the younger people read in unison in Mandarin.  As the sun began to rise, some of the people in a small fishing boat were throwing their net into the sea.  We read from the Gospel of John the story of the risen Christ appearing to the disciples on the beach.  The disciples are fishing and aren't catching anything.  Jesus tells them to throw their nets over the right side of the boat, and then they catch fish.  Jesus prepares breakfast on the beach.  I asked them to look at the two men fishing, and I wondered if the Christ appeared on this beach this morning what would he say.

As we walked back to the village church, there was a deep sense that Christ is alive. We worshipped again at nine oíclock in the sanctuary. The children had spent the night sleeping on the sanctuary floor. There were two coconuts on the communion table, each with a new sprout growing out of it, a potent sign of the hope we were celebrating. The singing was joyful as the men, the women, the youth, and the elders each sang a different Easter anthem. After the sermon we went to the churchís garden and each planted a flower. The church elders then handed out eggs to each worshipper. We traded our eggs and shared the peace of Christ.

I went to Taiwan in 1996 as a Presbyterian Church USA mission coworker after seven years as the pastor of Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, just down the road from Montreat in the North Carolina mountains. I remember that when I met with the churchís pastoral search committee and one member asked me how long I would stay if I were called, I replied with an answer that seemed the most outlandish thing I could imagine: "I donít know Godís will. I could be on the mission field in five years!"

It turned out to be seven, and I was on my way to Taiwan, a small leaf-shaped island hanging just one hundred miles off the south coast of China, to begin studying Mandarin Chinese.


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