Bringing God’s Love to Taiwan

By Bob Paulson   •   February 26, 2009

There weren’t many Christians, either–just one-tenth of one percent of Taiwan’s people were Christian. Most were Buddhists who knew nothing about Jesus Christ.

Brougham would think, All of these people–every day there are funerals, people filled with evil spirits, people dying and going to hell. We’re not reaching them fast enough.

That conviction led Brougham to record a Christian music and preaching program in her living room. The local radio station would then broadcast the program using Brougham’s own recorder–hers was the only one on the island.

While the broadcasts aired, Brougham would ride her bicycle again–and watch in amazement. Passing military camps, she saw soldiers sitting and listening as the Gospel of Jesus Christ blared from loudspeakers. Passing homes with doors open in the tropical heat, she saw families listening to the Gospel on radios that sat on the same shelves as pagan idols. One day as she passed a Buddhist temple, a nun called her over, then quietly said, “I listen to your program every day. Can you get me a Bible?”

Ten years later, Brougham ventured into television, producing Taiwan’s first Christian TV program, and the results were similar to those of the radio program. TV was new and exciting, so when Brougham’s program came on, with Gospel teaching as well as with music by the “Heavenly Melody” group she had founded, people watched–even in the courtyards of the temples.

“Here were people worshiping idols,” Brougham recalls. “And here we were, telling about Jesus–right in the same courtyard!”

Brougham, who grew up in Seattle, Wash., committed her life to Christ at age 10 and to missions at age 12, after attending Bible camp and hearing of the millions in China who had never heard about Jesus Christ. A talented musician, Brougham could have pursued music scholarships, but God kept reminding her, “You promised to go to China,” and she remained true to her promise. After high school she attended Bible school and a year of university before heading to the mission field.

When she arrived in China in 1948, at age 21, the war between the Nationalist forces and the Communists was underway, with the Communists steadily gaining the upper hand. During Brougham’s first year there, she was evacuated three times to new locations.

By 1951, she had relocated to British-controlled Hong Kong, but it wasn’t clear how long that city would stand against the Communists, either. When she heard of the need for the Gospel in Taiwan, she moved there. Other missionaries were working in Taiwan, but not many wanted to work with the tribal people in the mountainous Hualien region. These tribes tended to scare people with their tattooed faces and with the fact that until recently they had been headhunters.

But Doris Brougham didn’t scare easily. Perfect love casts out fear, the Bible says, and Brougham knew God’s love well.

“When I was in Bible school,” she recalls, “they always talked about our needing to discern our spiritual gifts as we studied 1 Corinthians 12. The last verse of that chapter instructs us to eagerly desire the greater gifts. The next chapter talks about the greatest gift–love.

Why not ask God for the greatest gift? I thought. I asked God for the gift of love; His love, not our human kind that selects and chooses, but His love that is for all people, lovely and unlovely alike.”

Love has marked Doris Brougham’s ministry for more than 60 years. It was love that drove her to cross the lines of separation that missionaries often drew in years past. Rather than stick together with other westerners, she fully engaged with the local people, even letting tribespeople stay at her house when needed.

And it is love that has constantly driven her to look for new ways to spread the Gospel–resulting in a ministry that now reaches around the world. Her “Studio Classroom” uses magazines, radio programs and the Internet to help meet the enormous worldwide demand for learning English.

From Finland to France, from people in Pakistan to the president of Taiwan, millions (5 million a day listen in China alone) have learned English through Studio Classroom. Along the way, non-Christians see profiles of Christians, explanations of Christian holidays and other information that gets them thinking about God. Many take their learning to the next level by attending English-language Bible studies.

Studio Classroom has given Brougham and her co-workers access to schools, top universities and government offices–places most missionaries could never go.

“I’m not really an English teacher,” Brougham says. “I went to Bible school and studied kids’ evangelism, and I’m a trumpet player and music teacher. My English teachers would turn over in their graves if they knew I was known here as a great English teacher. But God uses English, so we do it.”

God also uses faith, and that quality shines in Brougham, says Henry Holley, BGEA’s director of Asian ministries. Holley first met Brougham in 1974 when he moved to Taiwan temporarily to direct a Billy Graham Crusade the following year.

In 2006, when Holley visited Taipei to talk with Christian leaders about the possibility of a Franklin Graham Festival, Brougham was the one who facilitated the meetings, as well as subsequent ones that ultimately led to last October’s Festival, which was attended by more than 186,000 people. “She is a tenacious lady,” Holley says. “She sets her hand to the plow and there is no turning back.”

Simon Hung would agree. Hung is executive director of Overseas Radio and Television (ORTV), the organization Brougham founded that produces Studio Classroom. On Sept. 17, 2001, Typhoon Nari struck Taipei with torrential rains that flooded the basement radio studio at ORTV.

Discouraged, Hung phoned Brougham with the bad news. “OK,” she replied. “Maybe this is the time when God will take the old studio and give us a new one.”

The next day, the staff worked together to pump out the water and then began cleaning up the muck from the flood. “We have to sing,” Brougham said. “Don’t feel too bad–God knows about this.” They improvised and rented time at other studios as they raised funds for rebuilding. Three years later, they had a brand-new studio.

Because of servants like Doris Brougham, Christianity has grown in Taiwan over the past 60 years, from one-tenth of a percent to nearly 5 percent. A small figure still, but it represents many who have put their trust in Jesus Christ through the efforts of missionaries and nationals alike.

“No one could ever plan this,” says Brougham, still serving in Taiwan at 82. “I don’t know anyone who could plan something that would be heard by tribespeople, kings, government officials–everybody. Only God could plan that.”

For more information about studio classroom, go to ortv.com.

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