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The Big-Voice Pastor and His Oil Lamp【Parent-Child Reading Guide】

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The Journey Through Eastern Taiwan: With a Bike and an Oil Lamp

 

 

The Miraculous Mission Work of Rev. Lo Hsien-Chun in Eastern Taiwan

Rev. Lo Hsien-Chun was born in Tamsui in 1905. He was the firstborn of deacon Lo Teng-Sheng from Tamsui Church. He had a strong interest in music while he was still young. He graduated from Tamsui Public School In 1918. Due to the limited financial means, he was unable to continue his education at that time and became a pharmacy apprentice under a Japanese Public Health Physician, Akagi, for three years. This experience became immensely helpful in his missionary work with the aboriginal tribes later on. Akagi was very impressed with his eagerness to learn and intelligence that he taught him English and encouraged him to pursue higher education. 

He resumed his education at Tamsui Middle School in 1922 and joined the male choir. In addition to performing throughout Taiwan, the choir traveled to Japan. While in school, he married Hung Min. After his graduation in 1927, he had the opportunity to become a translator at the British Consulate. Instead of taking a comfortable job, he was encouraged by the faith of his father and decided to dedicate his life to missionary work and started further training at Taihoku Seminary. 

 

Dedication to Serving the Aboriginal Tribes

While in the seminary, Rev. James Ira Dickson and he, along with other parishioners from Tamsui Church, did outreach missions every week. In the summer of 1928, he volunteered to do mission work at Fenglin Church in Hualien. While walking down a street in Fenglin, he saw a tribal member carrying a basket of bananas coming down from Taroko. After selling the fruits, the man spent most of the money on alcohol and became intoxicated. After he got up, he was hungry. He used his remaining money to purchase spoiled bananas from the same vendor he had sold his bananas to in the first place. The man eventually went home empty-handed. Lo witnessed that many aborigines were under the bondage of alcoholism. He decided to dedicate his life to serving and ministering to the tribal people.

In the following year, Lo accompanied Dickson, again, to Hualien and Taitung to care for the aborigines. Soon after, Dickson brought an Taroko girl Ciwang lwal to study at Tamsui Girls’ School.

After graduating from the seminary, Lo pursued further study in Japan in 1931. He returned during the summer to attend a Sunday school teacher’s retreat at Tachia. It was at that time he wrote his first hymn Most holy Father, hear us when we pray (New Hymns 520). He ranked first in his class and graduated in 1933. He returned to Taiwan and took a position at Hsinchu Church. In addition, he had a teaching position at Tamsui Middle School and was the choir conductor at Tamsui Church.  During that time, he completed his second hymn, Oh Lord, teach us how to pray (New Hymns 348).

Lo became the secretary of the Presbyterian Church choirs in 1935. He worked diligently in editing the hymns for more than 32 years until he retired. In 1936, he resigned from his teaching post to dedicate his time completely to editing the hymnal which was completed and printed the following year. He then accepted the invitation to pastor Samkiap Church and took a teaching position at Taihoku Seminary.

 

Serving the Aboriginal Tribes More than 20 Years

After the Second World War erupted, he and Dr. Chen Wen-Tsan from Samkiap Church tried to protect the assets of Mackay Hospital but ended up being put in jail for 66 days. After the war, he returned to teaching at Tamsui Middle School. With his strong English language ability, he was then hired as an English tutor at YMCA and also provided service at the United States Information Service in Taipei. 

After the 228 Incident in 1947, he decided to resign from his teaching position at Tamsui Middle School. He traveled alone to Taitung. His family was able to join him the following year. And within one year, they had moved seven times. They finally settled down at a simple hut located on Fuchien Rd., Taitung City. He then spent more than 20 years ministering to the aboriginal tribes on the east coast of Taiwan. Lo and his wife had six sons and four daughters. The older children stayed in the north to continue their education. The younger children relocated with them to Taitung.

At that time, traveling through the east coast of Taiwan was difficult. He would travel alone to visit different tribes on a bike with an oil lamp gifted by an American missionary. He used music and medicine as bridges to shorten his distance with the tribal members. He taught many youths in the tribes to sing hymns. His mission path reached many faraway places in Hualien and Taitung, including Amis, Puyuma, Paiwan, Rukai, even the Tao of Orchid Island.

Whenever he travels, he would stay in the villages and live among the tribal members for several days. In addition to his personal items and medicines, he would bring along a slide projector, gospel books, and evangelism flyers. He led the congregation in singing hymns. He would teach the people to sing, tell Bible stories, lead prayers, and hold training sessions. He even invited foreign missionaries to host gospel meetings on the east coast. He also translated the Book of Mark using the Amis language. The translated scripture was published by The Bible Society in Taiwan.

After working among the aboriginal tribes for ten years, he received additional support from Rev. Yen Ming-Fu, the first Amis pastor, to share his heavy workload in 1957. And in that year, his wife fell ill and they decided to move back to Taipei to let her recover. During that time, he dedicated his time to editing the hymnal for Amis. He published thirty-five hymns using the Amis language the next year. And in the following year, he published Amis Hymns that contained 173 songs in staves. Subsequently, he returned to the east coast of Taiwan and continued his mission work in preaching and leading worship.

Lo retired in 1967. During his mission work for more than 20 years, he assisted in the founding of 167 churches among the aboriginal tribes. His effort is considered “a miracle in the 20th Century”. At that time, the aboriginal Christians from eastern Taiwan all knew about this “Big-voice Pastor”, who sang loudly and was compassionate and kind. He passed away on February 28, 1984, at the age of 80. 

Dickson, a life-long supporter of his mission among the aboriginal tribes, described him as "a scholar, an evangelist, a teacher, a musician, and a pastor who is gifted in shepherding.” Lo lived a Christ-like existence with great humility. He was frugal and lived simply yet generous to others. He did not seek fame or fortune. His life left a beautiful path for people to learn and follow.

 

Note: This storybook is based on the description provided by Chien Yu-Lan. She and her husband, Rev. Lo Tien-Tsai, became missionaries among the aboriginal tribes with the encouragement of Lo. Around 1950, a missionary from America brought an oil lamp and gave it to Lo before leaving Taiwan. This lamp became an important tool when Lo was visiting the tribal villages at night. After he retired, he passed this oil lamp to Lo and Chien. Forty years later, they returned this lamp back to the descendants of Rev. Lo Hsien-Chun. This oil lamp symbolizes the powerful legacy of missionary work in Taiwan.

Lo Tien-Tsai returned the lamp to Lo's sons and daughters. (Photo provided by the Lo family)