Linda-Kay Wicks mentioned how discussions at the TMF Conference led to the development of a significant women's ministry in Taichung. She comments, "It was at TMF that I became involved in the starting of the International Christian Women's Club. Within a year of the dream we had the largest ICWC in the world with attendance hitting 160 to 175 women there in Taichung. I was the president of that club for a year."

    Even some of the impetus for establishing Morrison Academy, a major school for missionary children, came from discussions at the TMF Conference. Carl Hunker recalls, "Families were struggling to make good education provisions for their children. So during one year in the early 1950s missionaries at the TMF Conference had a whole afternoon discussing the establishing of a school for MKs. A committee was formed to inquire about how many missions would want to join this project. The final result was that the following year a board of trustees was formed from four missions. After the board was established, TMF was no longer involved except as a friend. For several years a report was given annually in the business session."

    Other ministries have either been developed or come under the auspices of TMF's organizational umbrella over the years. The Center for Counseling and Growth in Taichung, Taiwan Mission Quarterly, and the Emergency Education Fund (for MK families for short-term unexpected educational expenses) are all examples of ministries, which have some relationship to TMF.

 

Some Reflections

    These fifty years of memories demonstrate the value of missionaries from different organizations and ministries meeting together to receive spiritual stimulation and to network with one another on issues of common concern. TMF has continued to provide those functions in various forms over the last five decades. What is so clear to me as I read through the questionnaires, however, is that the context of missionary service in Taiwan has changed significantly. In the 1950s missionaries had themselves, their Bibles, the Holy Spirit (!), and only a small amount of other kinds of resources. Living resources were very simple, with even very limited electricity in some places. Transportation and communications were slow and cumbersome; very few people owned cars or motorcycles. International travel was slower and more expensive. Computers and e-mail had not been thought of. In the early 1950s there was no missionary kids school. Missionaries might find themselves in situations in which they had great levels of responsibility for ministry and limited resources for accomplishing that ministry. In short, they faced great challenges, with significant physical, material, and spiritual stresses. In this kind of context TMF played a very significant role for many foreign missionaries serving in Taiwan.

  The ministry context today is very different. Taiwan has made it, as far as material prosperity is concerned. Excellent communications and transportation, comfortable living, one of the best selection of meat, fruits, and vegetables anywhere in the world, and even some good western restaurants at affordable prices are available to support the life of the foreign missionary in Taiwan. Is it too hot for you? Well, you can install an air conditioner in every room of your home. Do you need to buy something from your home country? You can visit Costco or one of several other high volume stores, which might very well carry the item you need. Are the clothes in the stores here the wrong size for your larger body? Just take your credit card out and order some clothes from the USA over the Internet. Do you need to be in touch with another missionary somewhere on the island? All you have to do is make a phone call from your living room, and if you can't get in touch with him, leave a message on his answering machine, send him a fax, or get on your computer and e-mail him the message. Are the pressures of ministry getting you down? Why not take in the latest movie, or go on a vacation at the Oasis in southern Taiwan, or go for a summer furlough (which many missionaries seem to be doing on alternating summers). Do you want some good Biblical input? Why not order the latest Christian reading from amazon.com? Many of the felt needs which prompted the development of TMF fifty years ago can be met through other channels, which did not exist then.

    So what will TMF's function be during the next fifty years? What memories will missionaries write about fifty years from now? The need for personal stimulation and spiritual strengthening will continue because people are people and have such needs. Although we have phones, faxes, and e-mails, there is no real substitute for people getting together, having face-to-face conversations about issues of common concern (sometimes called "networking"), and defining and working on common ministry projects. But what form will those functions take? I suspect that the forms taken by these functions could very possibly change a great deal. Many missionaries are away from Taiwan during the summer time slot when TMF holds its annual conference. Spiritual and ministry resources are available from many other sources. Missionaries' busy schedules and hectic urban lifestyles seemingly make it difficult for missionaries to give time and energy to TMF sponsored activities. The times are rapidly changing and TMF will change with them.

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