A-chong, a Taiwanese demolition worker, wants to go to church. He wants to thank the Christians who prayed for his daughter when she was hours away from death. He wants to know more about the God who miraculously healed her.

"But I am too embarrassed to go to church," A-chong says, "because the people there are so highly educated and high class, and I'm not. I'm too dirty. I curse, swear, smoke, and drink too much."

He then looks at his friends Seann Gibson and Tim McCracken—American missionaries who have spent hours with him, chatting about religion over pots of Taiwanese tea. A-chong smiles.

"But hey," he says, "I don't have any problem hanging out with you guys."

According to official government statistics, only 3.9 percent of the 22.9 million people on this island are Christian. But various mission organizations have estimated that among Taiwan's working class, which composes 61.7 percent of Taiwan's population, less than 0.5 percent are Christian. As a result, Operation World (2001) says, Taiwan has "the only Han Chinese population in the world where the spiritual breakthrough has yet to come."

Now some churches and mission agencies have redoubled efforts to reach the working class and initiate that breakthrough. They've turned aside from traditional Western evangelistic methods and employed new culture-specific techniques.

Inaccessible Christianity

Although working-class Taiwanese are not necessarily poor, they are typically less educated—and education here is a crucial symbol of status and success. Some have dysfunctional family backgrounds, and many don't think much of themselves, Gibson says. Traditional and less open to the Western world, working-class Taiwanese tend to be steeped in generations of ancestor ...

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