Singleton,L Unfinished Task

Leslie Singleton :THE UNFINISHED TASK IN FORMOSA 

 

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Singleton,Leslie,1891-1971 (沈毅敦) “The Japan Christian Year-book 1934” publ.by Tokyo. Kyo Bun Kwan (教文館)Part III Formosa.Chapter XXI.p.205-210 

Leslie Singleton, English Presbyterian missionary in Tainan,Taiwan in 1821-1956.
When one is asked to consider what remains to be done to complete the Christian task in Formosa or anywhere else, a very difficult discussion might be opened up. What is the Christian task? What might satisfy some groups of Christians would not satisfy other groups. Is attendance at some place of Christian worship once or twice a week enough? Is this question such a simple one with only an individual aspect that social and political and international problems do not arise? Are such questions as race prejudice, exploitation of the weak or undeveloped, holding the poor down that the rich may have power and be at ease, and so on, are these not to be raised?
If such questions are to be raised, in trying to fix be- forehand what the Christian ideal is, and what the Kingdom of God on earth is to be like, then more space and more leisure for discussion would be needed than that allotted. Briefly, we take the position that if a man is in Christ Jesus he is a new creature and such things as race prejudice, exploitation of others, a lust for power and wealth in this world, these cannot be. They are a con- tradiction! Thus we state our simple conclusion that our task in Formosa, as elsewhere, is to get the Spirit of Christ so rooted and grounded in every heart that indivi- dual, social, and international wrongs are impossible. Our ideal is to have every man regard all others as Christ did, as a soul of unutterable value, as one for whom he would willingly lay down his, life. This would, of course, have its repercussions on all aspects of life, — home life^ educational life, village or town organisations, poli- tical life, medical life, industrial life, national and international life.
It is impossible for us to attempt to discuss these subjects even in relation to a relatively small island like Formosa. Protestant mission work began in Formosa by the Dutch some 300 years ago, but that soon ceased. Next year the English Presbyterians celebrate their 70th Anniversary here, and the Roman Catholics have been in the Island a little longer. But the fact that our mission work began as medical mission work seems to have been under the Grace of God in our favour. We attempt to assuage the temporary physical suffering of men, that they may be led to discover the eternal assuagement for distress of soul in Christ. From the outset our medical work has been very effective, and we now have three Christian general hospitals with over 200 beds altogether, and one Christian leper hospital just opened. Also there are throughout the Island scores of Christian doctors who either served in early days as assistants in our hospitals, or have gone through our Christian schools, and after taking their diploma in Government Medical Colleges have become active Christian workers in the town or village where they practice. Often churches have begun in their homes. The relieving of suffering is a work sure of Christ's commendation, but this is also performed by large government hospitals and private practitioners as in Japan, often without any knowledge of Christ and without witness to His Salvation.
Next year the Japanese will have been 40 years in charge of Formosa and in that time have worked wonders in sanitation, wiping out plague, cholera, smallpox, etc.; and now the scourges of tuberculosis, leprosy, malaria, etc. are being fought. Whilst an active earnest Christian faith may often keep one free from disease, still Christians surely ought to take an interest and active share in preventing and curing physical disease. A world free from the ravages of cancer, leprosy, tuberculosis, etc. is part of the Christian ideal, and part of our task.
The second chief activity of the Formosan Christian mission has been in educational work. Formerly elemen- tary schools were begun in connection with the churches, but now, besides a growing number of kindergartens, two boys Middle Schools, and three Girls High Schools, counting one Roman Catholic School, with a total enroll- ment of about 100, provide all the Christian education there is for 5 million people. Connected with the churches there are almost 200 Sunday Schools with about 10,000 scholars, but they spend most of their time mastering the romanised Formosan vernacular, and the Bible teaching is very elementary compared with that of the Korean church. The students in our Middle Schools and Girls High Schools have a good opportunity to receive funda- mental instruction in the Christian faith, and many of the leaders throughout the churches are old graduates of these schools.
However, the main problem is how to reach the mass of the people, about A l / 2 million Formosans of Chinese descent and speaking the Amoy dialect of Chinese. These are mostly scattered in small agricultural villages and market towns. Industrial problems are relatively small because manufacturing industries are not well developed in Formosa. The first step appears to be to aim at get- ting a group of Christians together in every village district. In Formosa these village districts (sho) are organised by the Japanese and have an average population of about 10,000 people. Often the students from our schools, patients from our hospitals, or believers moving in from other districts help to start such groups. At present about half of these 'sho' have churches or preaching stations with groups meeting for worship or study. This means we have about 260 congregations, counting all denominations, Roman Catholic and Protestant, and also Japanese churches who usually meet separately because of language difficulties. That works out roughly at one church for every 20,000 people. The number of baptised adults and children is about 1 in 170, and adherents about 1 in 100.
Thus after 70 years' work, while progress has been not inappreciable, still the vast tracts of rural districts, par- ticularly on the seacoast, and in the foothills towards the central mountain range, present staggering problems. About 200 wholetime workers, counting all denominations, attempt earnestly to carry on the work. Especially during the last few years each church is assuming a responsibility for evangelistic work in the villages and hamlets around. Many have a weekly evangelistic meet- ing at which both preachers and pastors take part. Almost all these churches and preaching stations have acetylene flares used for night evangelism. One of our preachers, after a visit to Japan, ventured the opinion that whilst we might learn a lot about city and town evan- gelism from Japan, Japan might learn a good deal from Formosa about village evangelism. Still the weakness of the Formosan Christian groups lies in their reliance on paid workers, and the relative inefficiency of laymen as public or private evangelists as compared with the Korean church. Also Bible study for adults is in a very elemen- tary condition as compared with the younger Korean church. While active campaigns against smoking and alcoholic liquors have taken place, still the bigger evil of prostitution in low cafes and eating houses is as yet largely unchallenged by aggressive workers. The Salva- tion Army has recently begun some rescue work in the larger cities, but all the large villages and towns have their "loose" houses.
The problem of evangelism among the Japanese in Formosa is a specially difficult one. Very, very few of the 250,000 Japanese in Formosa work on the land except it be as overseers in sugar factories, timber felling, etc. That is, this 5% of the population forms the official ruling class in government offices, police, post offices, banks, railway, schools, big business concerns, and the ever expanding monopolies such as sugar, tobacco, salt, camphor, etc. Export of fruit such as fresh bananas and oranges and tinned pineapples, as well as a huge timber industry in the mountains, is almost wholly controlled by the Japanese. Thus to reach and hold with the lowly Christian message such an official class is a task that many Japanese pastors must have found such a problem that it is difficult not to lose heart. Government officials seem to be the toughest problem, but often their wives and workers in sugar fac- tories form groups that meet regularly for Bible study and Christian worship. They would find Christ's peace and joy as they came to serve and be spent for others as He did. There are notable exceptions who have proved this already.
Lastly, may we make one more appeal for our aboriginal brothers and sisters in the Formosan mountains. Though their population is ten times that of the Ainu of Hokkaido (144,816, latest census 1933, apart from 56.021 semi- civilised 'jukuban') they have not yet had any missionary from West or East to stay with them long enough to learn their language. Although in many of the larger villages and more accessible centres the Japanese police have begun primitive elementary schools and many of their mountain police are savages who have been so educated, still head-hunting is by no means extinct. The big massacre of Japanese police at Musha three or four years ago was a case in point. But whoever attempts this mountain tribe evangelism must have athletic faith and undaunted patience. There is good evidence that these mountain tribesmen respond to kindness and Christ is undoubtedly their greatest need with the present perils of liquor and loose-living added to their own superstitious fear and bondage. A few of the peace-loving Ami tribe have already had some Christian training in Tamsui, North Formosa. Probably Japanese Christian medical and educational work would be the best way to begin, for few aborigines know any of the Formosan-Chinese dialect, but increasing numbers speak and read simple Japanese. Also for Japanese evangelists entrance would be easier to the centres of the seven or eight tribes than for Western missionaries or Formosan Chinese. Many of our earliest mission successes were among the descendants of abori- gines who had settled in the foothills and learnt Chinese ('jukuban'). From our experience with these people, Christian training of the aborigines would probably give many thrills to be succeeded by the heartaching work of laying a firm moral foundation on which the glorious free- dom in Christ might operate.
To summarise, out of four and one-half million Formosans, one-fourth million Japanese, and 200,000 aborigines in Formosa, but a mere sprinkling of 30,000 adults and children have openly acknowledged Christ in baptism. For the last ten years the church has grown at about the same rate as the population. Do we not need more believing agonising prayer and wholehearted undaunted witness for Christ?  

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