Churches reach Taiwanese immigrants as factory grows in the desert
By Dave Arden | Nov 1, 2022
It’s no news to the people in north Phoenix that the Taiwain Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is building a huge $12 billion factory. The company is bringing in several hundred workers from Taiwan for the new campus, which can be seen for miles around.
Electronic chips are at the core of technological growth around the world, used by cell phones, electronic machinery and electric cars. Apple iPhones, for example, use four chips per phone. The plant will open in 2024, with plans to employ 2,000 workers.
The opportunity to reach out to the new families moving in was first conceived by the leadership at Northwest Chinese Baptist Church (Pastors Steve Yee and Michael Lin), who shared the opportunity with Pastor Brian Bowman at Valley Life Church. Both churches are engaged with the ministry and Joy Longaza, director of discipleship for Valley Life Tramanto, is spearheading the Valley Life outreach.
“Normally, when you are a missionary,” Longaza said, “you’re traveling to a new people and culture and learning a new language, but the Lord is taking a large group from Taiwan and bringing them to our own backyard.”
In April, Longaza heard about the opportunity to reach out to the Taiwanese, so she prayed, “Lord, how can we serve?” With the heart of just loving and caring for the people, she and her coworkers did not have to wait long for an answer.
Two days later, she was given the opportunity to connect the church with a couple of wives of the plant engineers.
“Our goal is to love our neighbor and to build relationships,” Longaza said. “We prayed that God would ready the hearts of the people in our community to receive the new immigrants and to prepare the hearts of our churches.”
The first meeting was special, as both groups opened up to one another to share life. Questions centered around matters like birthdays, good doctors in town and where to shop for food.
“They had lots of questions about our culture,” Longaza said, “and they were really curious to learn. We started inviting them to our gatherings and potlucks. Since this all started at Easter time, we were able to share our faith with them in a natural way.”
At one potluck gathering, some humorous questions arose from the Taiwanese about the nature of “deviled eggs.”
The ministry has grown much in the last several months. Valley Life is now reaching hundreds of Taiwanese people through the ministry and bridging the gap between their culture and life in Arizona. The church is serving 32 families, with many opportunities available to minister to children.
By cultivating and nurturing relationships, the Taiwanese are responding to the Gospel. One woman responded by faith to the message of Jesus’ resurrection during the Easter season, and a young girl named Rebecca received Christ during summer VBS.
“We now have 12 active volunteers from Valley Life,” Longaza said. “We have English, culture, and cooking classes that meet multiple times each week, and the men meet on Sunday. In addition, we are learning about their culture as well. We go to their apartment complexes where they are.”
One of the observations made by the Taiwanese mothers is that the American children interacting with their kids are so kind, friendly and loving. When one of the mothers asked why the kids were so well-behaved, an observant translator responded to the others, “It’s because of their Jesus.”
The new outreach efforts have not been without struggles. The language barrier makes it difficult, at times, to communicate well. The number of families keeps increasing, and the needs are huge.
Valley Life wants to invite more churches to get involved with the work.
“If anybody wants to serve with us, please contact me at email@example.com,” Longaza requested.
Pastor Brian Bowman is encouraged by the growth of the outreach.
“We are growing in our understanding of the need to reach out to people who are different than ourselves, as well as our need to be trained to share our faith and lead someone to repentance and faith in Jesus,” Bowman said.
Most of the immigrants coming from Taiwan know little of the Christian faith. Still, thanks to these caring believers, the families are growing in their knowledge of Christ.
“We also expect that some people who have fallen in love with Jesus will eventually move back to Taiwan,” Bowman said, “so we will one day commission them as missionaries.”
Dave Arden, a freelance writer living in Cottonwood, is a member of Aletheia Church in Sedona.