Ministry in the 1950s
Arriving in May 1949, Dr. Donald Dale and his wife, Penny, were some of the earliest missionaries to Taiwan. Penny writes, “Apart from the Presbyterian missionaries, I don’t think there were any others in Taiwan at the time we arrived.” Over the next eighteen months, others arrived from China.
At that time, many missionaries felt that Taiwan would become ten percent Christian by 1960.
“The hopelessness of life opened the hearts of many to the gospel.”
– Carl Hunker
Fellowship was precious because of the hardships many had faced in China. Almost every mission had several older, experienced missionaries who moved to Taiwan from China and felt a bond because of their past experiences. The need for fellowship and encouragement drew missionaries together to form TMF and hold an annual conference each summer.
“TMF began because a few of us felt it was very important for the missionaries who were on the island at that time to get to know each other, encourage one another, and pray together.”
– Penny Dale
The First Conference
The first conference took place in 1951. Bertha Smith of the Southern Baptist Mission was largely responsible for organizing it. The main speaker was Dr. James Graham, the original founder of Chung Yuan University in Chungli and later Christ College. During the tea ceremony each person was permitted a personal chat with the charming Madame Chiang Kai-shek and a handshake with the President. In the early 1960s the location of the annual TMF Conference was changed to Morrison Academy in Taichung, where it has been held almost every year since. The conference also provides a youth program for all age levels often run by short-term mission teams.
Started in 1991 and lasting through 2006, TMQ was a quarterly magazine for missionaries living in Taiwan. The magazine was started by Mr. Sheldon Sawatzky, to help missionaries learn better how to reach Taiwanese for the gospel and how to find comforts in a foreign land.
TMF eventually developed the annual production of a missionary directory to help with inter-missionary communication. These networking relationships have served to stimulate the development of other kinds of ministries, some of which have even become independent organizations on their own.
Today, while the ministry context is very different since Taiwan has become an economically thriving nation, the need for personal and spiritual strengthening goes on. TMF will continue to provide opportunities for fellowship, networking and joint ministry to support missionaries island-wide.