As I enjoyed a hike with Ethan and Sandy Christofferson in the highlands of western Taiwan, I was in awe of the local grass that towered over my head. That’s right… grass! Bamboo is the most common grass on the planet, boasting over 1,400 different species! It is the fastest growing plant on our planet. In fact, some species are known to grow up to three feet in one day! You could literally watch it grow. Other amazing facts about bamboo abound: It is incredibly resilient, growing on every continent and in all kinds of climates and soils. Its tensile strength is 28,000 psi—greater than steel! It never experiences infection as it contains a bio-agent called Bamboo Kun that prevents bacterial infection. It has amazing regeneration skills and will re-sprout quickly and aggressively when cut down.
As I stood in awe of the huge bamboo stems surrounding me, my thoughts went to the previous day, when I had the privilege of gathering together with some leaders of the CLBC (Chinese Lutheran Brethren Church) of Taiwan, along with the Kittelsons and Christoffersons (LBIM missionaries to Taiwan). We spent the day together celebrating the Church of the Lutheran Brethren around the world and discussing the calling of God on his Church to boldly step out in faith, in order that he might work in and through us to make disciples of Jesus Christ among the nations.
As a Church body existing in the world of the 21st century, we may be discouraged about the state of the world, the lack of growth in our churches, the threat of cultures and governments, the risks and dangers of mission, the sin that infects… and we may be tempted to shrink back or succumb to fear and discouragement.
As I have reflected on the character of the bamboo plant, and the story of the LB mission in Taiwan, it has served to point me to the promises of God’s Word, and that brings me incredible hope. Like bamboo, with its diversity of species and character, the Church in the world is wonderfully diverse. That is God’s intention and end goal, that his Church will be made up of an uncountable throng of people from every tribe, nation and tongue (Revelation 7:9).
Like bamboo, growing in diverse conditions with its resilience in climatic and soil profiles, the Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations (Isaiah 61:11). The Lord has used our missionaries in Taiwan to share the gospel, and God has created faith in countless people as a result. In the seventeen LB churches in Taiwan, 211 adults and 32 children were baptized in 2018 alone!
Like bamboo’s incredible tensile strength, the Church will have renewed strength, as we put our hope in Christ. We will soar; we will run and not grow weary; we will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). Our Church in Taiwan is stepping out in faith, seeking to send their own long-term cross-cultural missionaries.
Like bamboo’s incredible ability to regenerate after being cut down, we—the body of Christ— are more than conquerors through him who loved us first, no matter what comes (Romans 8:37). Our missionaries in Taiwan (the Christoffersons, Kittlesons and Hosches) are coming alongside the Church and partnering with them in making inroads with the gospel to their communities and beyond, no matter the hurdles.
That’s right. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Let’s go! Let’s grow!
Dan Venberg serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as Mission Mobilizer and Recruiter for Lutheran Brethren International Mission.