May the Lord build on the prayerful legacy of Chian-Kai-shek: Ongoing Prayer for Taiwan

Feb 22, 2024 | READ

We so often hear of Taiwan in the news, as a ‘target’ of Chinese takeover intent and wonder if the United States really has the willpower to engage in a full-scale war to protect it. Especially with Donald Trump declaring in no uncertain terms his desire to put America first, and to ditch America’s guarantees and commitments to the rest of the world, it would be good to make both China and Taiwan a focus for prayer.

Here’s an easy pub quiz question: who was Head of the Nationalist Government in both China and Taiwan, in all for nearly fifty years?

The answer is Chiang kai Shek, who ruled in China from 1928–49, and later from exile in Taiwan (1949–75).

Chiang was the last-to-die of the four principal Second World War leaders, together with Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill, (excluding Germany and Japan for obvious reasons). By chairing the Cairo Conference in 1943, the first of fourteen such summit meetings, he established China’s status as one of the four great powers. Known in the West and in Soviet Russia in the 1920s as the Red General, the Generalissimo, his goal was actually to eradicate the communists, for which he had received help from Nazi Germany, leading Mao to term him ‘The Fuhrer of China.’

What many are not aware of is that Chiang converted to Christ as early as 1930, through the influence of his wife’s mother. She died shortly after he made this lifechanging commitment, but his wife, Song Mei-ling was a remarkable lady who, as a committed believer had had to overcome considerable scruples and reservations about marrying this unbeliever from a Buddhist background. How gracious God is! Soong Mei took over his Bible study training, and within a few years they were beginning and closing each day in deep times of prayer and Bible study. Chiang came to lean heavily on the Lord, and to pray and repent passionately of the sins of China, for which he believed that he himself bore a significant degree of responsibility.*

Chiang’s odyssey was far from over when he was forced to leave China in 1949, having led the nation for twenty years. Having survived the vicious and utterly bloodthirsty Sino-Japanese war that had begun several years before the Second World War, (China’s civilian and military casualties are officially put at a staggering 20,000,000 dead, with a further 15,000,000 injured between 1937 and 1945). But then, as a result of the Chinese Civil War, Chiang’s Nationalist Party was finally overrun by the Communists, obliging him to flee to the impoverished island of Taiwan, which had suffered grievously under Japanese rule from 1895 until 1945, the local people existing only to put food on the plates of their Japanese masters.

Chiang was by no means a perfect leader, but it was he who opened the door to two million more exiles to follow him from the mainland to Taiwan, and he who beefed up the island’s morale and military readiness to resist the Communist Chinese, who, even then, were chomping at the bit to seize it. With considerable aid from America (despite President Truman nearly pulling out his support) he was able to do this, leading to America signing a serious guarantee with the island in 1955.

This lasted until the late 1970s, when President Nixon did his well-publicised volte face, and developed closer ties with Beijing, affirming China as one nation, which inevitably left Taiwan ‘out in the cold.’

Even when Chiang kai Shek first arrived in Taiwan, the islanders were divided between those who wanted closer ties with China and those who did not. Having made himself such a thorn in the side of the Chinese, it is no wonder that to this day they are implacably opposed to the idea of this small island acquiring independent status.

The spiritual state of Taiwan

Whilst it would be anything but a cinch for the Chinese armed forces to capture Taiwan, the island also represents a formidable challenge for the gospel. The prevailing ethos is Buddhist, but with a unique additional ‘twists’ of Taoism and Confucianism. The very strong pull towards ancestor worship continues largely unabated, making it hard for people to detach themselves from their traditions to follow Christ wholeheartedly, and to be active witnesses for Him. Neither is there much by way of outreach to the working class; with most of the converts holding a degree, Christianity is looked on as being primarily an intellectual matter.

Taiwan continues to host the largest Chinese Han speaking community in the world that has yet to experience any real spiritual breakthrough. With the government imposing ever tightening clamp downs on the faith in China, now is the time for Taiwanese people to turn to Christ while there is still peace and freedom to do so.

May the word of the Lord resound, stronger than either Buddhist, materialism and the strong temptations to gambling and other addictions. These, combined with strong opposition together faith, mean that the few who do make the commitment to be flat out publicly for Christ as His witnesses need special protection.

It feels deeply significant that at this time when there is such overt pressure on the church in both countries that that both China and North Korea have had godly leaders in the not-so-distant part. See too, my post ‘How God worked in North Korea a hundred years ago.’ May the Lord continue to hear and answer those prayers.

May prayers that were prayed many decades ago remain on the Lord’s altar and in His heart, and live on to bless both China and Taiwan.

This brief prayer cast makes a useful starting place to pray for Taiwan.

On my computer at least, this prayer cast was followed by over three hours of illustrated YouTube piano playing for the Lord. It makes a good background for, by western standards, a very extended time of prayer. (That would no doubt be regarded as short in certain other parts of the globe!)

*I learnt of Chiang’s conversion through Billy Graham, who continued to have relationships with him and spoke at a memorial service for him in Washington.

For a fascinating and detailed historical overview, see Dr. TU Yichao’s paper ‘Panda Huggers and Dragon Slayers: Billy Graham, American Evangelicals, and Sino-American Relations’.

Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

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