Wednesday, March 02, 2005

2-28 and the Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church was established by Scottish missionary Dr. James Maxwell in 1865, in southern Taiwan. He was followed by another Presbyterian missionary, Canadian Dr George MacKay in 1872 in northern Taiwan. Ever since, the Presbyterian Church has been the largest denomination in Taiwan. Christians comprise only 3 percent of the 23 million people in Taiwan, of which about a third are Presbyterian. While few in number, their impact on Taiwanese development is notable. Presbyterians are responsible for Taiwan's first school, first hospital and first printing press.

The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) has long seen itself as a defender of the Taiwanese people. It also
has long been independent of foreign influence. According to the PCT website:

During the Japanese colonial period, in spite of strong pressure from the authorities to use Japanese, the PCT continued to use the Taiwanese language in its activities. Because of the increasing militarism of Japan in the late 1930's all foreign missionaries were expelled, and this gave the church an early experience of complete independence. Evangelism among the Aborigines started at this time despite ruthless Japanese opposition. By the end of the war 4,000 -5,000 Aboriginal people were ready for baptism.
When China took over Taiwan in 1945, they continued the repression of Taiwanese language, history and culture. Again the PCT stood as a haven for the Taiwanese. In response to the 2-28 Incident, the church became a strong voice for truth and justice. In spite of Martial Law, the PCT became a haven for those seeking multiparty democracy and Taiwan independence from China. In their eyes:
Since 1865 the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan has burned with the fires of God's Spirit. At times it has been scorched by the flames of repression and harassment. Yet it still stands as a light in the darkness and a beacon of hope in the society of Taiwan.
Today the PCT is quite active in social justice with ministries to the blind, elderly, poor, prisoners, aborigine's and people in need around the world. But there is something I sense, that makes God unhappy with the PCT's response to the 2-28 Incident. I'll share that over the next several days.