By now, most of you have probably figured out that where you live is not safe. And, you face the challenge of what to do about that. As I have said repeatedly…
…if you can’t trust your neighbors, it’s time to get new ones.
And, getting new neighbors means moving to a place where you CAN trust your neighbors, or where situation isn’t so dire – or both.
I recommend the ‘both’ part, but that means leaving the United States – a very daunting prospect for anyone with an ounce of sanity. But, I am an example of someone who has done that, and – by the grace of God – lived to tell the tale.
So, let me take this time to tell my own story of relocation.
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Escape the Asylum – Taiwan and Israel
Knowing a writer – or worse, being married to one – is a dangerous thing. You never know when you’ll find yourself in a story that lots of people are reading. But, I try to be careful about such things, so I routinely change some of the names and situations to protect the mostly-innocent.
I will also be telling my story a little bit backwards. I believe that the story of Israel is the most important one, but it is also complicated. Taiwan is less so, in many respects, and will be an easier choice for many of you. But, try to understand that none of your options are without pitfalls.
If you’ve spent any time reading my articles, you know that I live in Taiwan – more specifically, Taipei. This means that I am almost exactly on the other side of the planet from most of you. In fact, I always know what time it is in Eastern Standard Time (EST) because we are EXACTLY twelve hours ahead of EST.
Although, that changes when the US goes off of Daylight Savings Time. One of the many reasons why I like Taiwan, is that they have refused to play such games with the clock. They think that we are crazy to switch back and forth, and I agree.
Of course, the Taiwanese have their own version of insanity, so let’s get to that.
How I Got Here
When the Lord dragged me out of Israel in 2006, I had no idea why. But, looking back on that, I can see that He had His reasons, and I will always remember that as a lesson in trusting the Lord.
Because the Lord wanted me to meet one of His daughters, and He needed to get me pointed in the right direction. I wound up married to this wonderful woman, before dragging her off to Israel.
(The poor woman didn’t know what she was getting into,
and is still aghast at what her gorilla-of-a-husband has dumped her in.)
On the way back to Israel in 2010, I thought that I would visit my mother-in-law, who lives just south of Tokyo – in Yokohama. We spent a week running around Tokyo and a few outlying areas, and… well …I really don’t like the place.
That’s a very subjective statement, and I’m sure that many of you will disagree. But, there is a coldness to Japanese society that left me unsettled. I certainly did not feel any stirring in my spirit for that country.
However, I know of many who have, and friend of mine spent several decades there pastoring a church, sharing the gospel and speaking Japanese. And, this is one of many reasons why you should let the Lord guide you, and not the subjective views of others.
The Holy Spirit may lead you to places that I – and many others – would tell you never to go. And, I am okay with that – as long as you really are hearing from the Lord in this. But, let’s get back to my story.
After a week in Japan, we went to Taipei, and then to my wife’s hometown in the southernmost part of Taiwan – where she grew up. And, they are truly two different worlds.
Taipei is a big city, with 2.7 million people within the city limits, and more than eight million in the surrounding area that they call New Taipei. It has an excellent transportation system, lots of work opportunities and crazy drivers.
I don’t drive here in Taipei, partly because I want to avoid the costs involved, but also because I don’t like having to share the road with people who drive like maniacs. Driving really is the most dangerous thing that you can do – anywhere – and this is especially true in Taipei.
You will also find more in the way of American culture and American food. There are moments in time when I have been willing to kill for a good hamburger, and was able to get one without resorting to homicide.
You will also find more expat Americans to spend time with, and you will be able to get by more easily if you only speak English. In fact, for many of you, Taipei will be a much more comfortable place, than the rest of Taiwan.
But, for those who wish to serve the Lord, the rest of Taiwan is probably where you will wind up.
Here in Taipei, between eight and ten percent of the population is Christian. When you get away from the big city, that percentage falls to around two percent. And, those two percent live in the midst of incredible darkness.
In fact, for a number of reasons, I would be there now, were it not for the Bible classes that my wife and I have been asked to teach. There really is much to be done, in terms of the Gospel, for those of you willing to go out on a limb – and learn Chinese.
Unfortunately, that’s one of the drawbacks to living outside Taipei – having to learn Chinese. It is a tough language, and I am too much of a coward to learn it. Learning Hebrew was painful enough. Learning Chinese is truly daunting to this forty-something writer.
But, at the same time, you will find a far more honest and traditional society outside of Taipei. The Taiwanese are a truly lovely people, and those out in the countryside are the loveliest of all. And, I had more than one person beg me to relocate outside of Taipei, to teach English.
This is where you will find a ripe opportunity for staying and working in Taiwan – English. In fact, it is very difficult to stay here legally, if you don’t teach English. Luckily, I have avoided the struggle of legal residence here, because I am married to a citizen. But, those of you who aren’t, will need to work on establishing yourself here, legally.
And, most of the time, that will mean teaching English.
Because Taiwan knows that English is THE lingua franca of the world. And, the Taiwanese government has made it much easier to obtain legal status here, for those who are teaching English. In fact, there is a real hunger for learning English. Quite a few of my students have shown up in my Bible classes, because they know that they’ll be getting an English lesson.
A College Degree
The downside is that the Taiwanese government has a thing about college degrees. If you don’t have one, they will be reluctant to give you permission to stay in Taiwan for any length of time. So, if you don’t have a college degree, you will have a bigger struggle.
But, do not let that keep you from following the Lord’s will, if He is calling you to Taiwan. I have eight years of University, and it was a colossal waste of time, effort and money. I congratulate you, if you were able to avoid such foolishness, but that will make for a tougher battle here.
A Criminal Record
Another obstacle that you will have is the criminal records check. I have a good friend living here, who was saved in prison and almost wasn’t able to stay here – because he couldn’t pass the criminal records check. And yes, they are very serious about that.
Even if your spouse is Taiwanese, you will NOT get permission to stay, if your background check comes up with any felonies. There may be exceptions to this rule, but I don’t know what they are. So, please keep this in mind if you want to stay here.
Now, for some really good news.
It’s Cheap To Live In Taiwan
It’s REALLY cheap to live here. In fact, the only reason why I can write these articles every day is because my savings goes much, much further here than either the US, or Israel – particularly, Israel.
For most of you, the cost of living here is at least half – if not a third – of what it would be in the US. Housing, food and healthcare are a fraction of the cost of that in the United States. Of course, that assumes that you are willing to live like the regular Taiwanese live. But, since Taiwan is a modern country, living like a Taiwanese won’t be THAT hard.
Take, for example, the many university graduates who come here, fresh out of college, to teach English. They routinely return to the United States, having paid off their student loans. By US standards, their salaries might have been low, but their cost of living was much, much lower.
However, I wish that these college kids would stay away, because they’ve been corrupting the Taiwanese girls. There are many times when I wish that I had a baseball bat and permission from God to bash heads. American morals have been a plague, here in Taiwan. But, I digress…
I’m going to stop my story of Taiwan here, with some resources that might help you, should you wish to pursue life here:
Forumosa is a play on Taiwan’s original name, Formosa. It is one of the most popular forums for expats wanting to share information, or just talk to each other. You will also find many of the reasons why I want to bash heads. But, you will also find loads of valuable information.
You will even find some of my posts on that forum, from the days when I was oblivious to our current trouble.
This is a MUCH more family-friendly site run by a really good guy. The English-speakers on this forum are much more polite, with better morals. Of course, this means fewer expats are sharing information there.
The above two sites will pretty much open Taiwan for you. And, if there’s something that you’re looking for, and can’t find it on those sites, you’ll be able to ask someone. Just remember that you must do your homework first. No one likes having to answer questions that you could have answered for yourself, with an easy search.
So, let me bring you back to my story. After a week in Japan, I went to spend three weeks with my wife’s family in Taiwan. I got the worst food-poisoning in my life. I got to meet the aunt with a mean right-hook, the crazy uncle who is a surgeon, and the rest of her fascinating family.
And, those three weeks were just enough time to start something that God would pull me into – nine months later, when we were called back to Taiwan. But, that means turning our attention to Israel.
My love for Israel is a strange thing, and it comes from two very different places. I was saved at a very young age, and quickly saw how important Israel was to God. And, as my fascination with reading and all things military grew, I stumbled across the story of this plucky little country that had defied the odds, to survive and prosper.
WHAT an amazing story. And, that story continues to captivate my attention. In fact, I have to be careful here about going off on a tangent, and forgetting the point of what I’m trying to write. Suffice it to say that there is endless fascination awaiting anyone who is interested in good stories – and bad ones.
Is Israel Right For You?
The bigger question is whether Israel is the place for you.
God has given me a profound love for that country and their people, but even I am not sure when – or even if – the Lord will send me back. I want to be there because my heart is there, and because I see the hand of the Lord at work there. But, I also know that I must wait on God’s timing for such things.
I also know the difficulties that I would face, in choosing to live there. It really is an amazingly expensive place to live. In fact, almost EVERYTHING there is incredibly expensive – on top of the punishing tax burden that Israelis are forced to pay.
It is a country that has been ravaged by war and terrorism, and that has made Israelis obsessive over security. No one in Israel is untouched by the incredible tragedy that has been forced upon them.
They Are Unsaved
The worst of it, of course, is that they are unsaved – which means that they are enemies of Christ. We were all such, before we were saved. So, it’s normal to see this enmity among the Israelis. To expect otherwise is to demonstrate an amazing ignorance of what salvation means.
Please get this into your head.
You were a Satanist before you were saved.
Did you get that?
That’s right, you were in league with the Devil before you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. To expect Israelis to be any different is to be a fool. That’s so important that I will put it another way:
If you expect Israelis to love Christianity, you are a fool.
Did you get THAT?
You are a fool, if you expect Israelis to love the fact that you are a Christian. And, it drives me crazy to see so many fools who call themselves Christian. And yes, I really mean that you are a fool, if you think that unsaved Israelis should be somehow different than we were before WE were saved.
So, those of you who wish to take me to task for my love of Israel… well …be ready to be called a fool.
You know who you are.
(okay, I’ll calm down.)
Now, where was I…
They Will Not Make It Easy For You
The point is that living in Israel is both expensive and a real struggle. Getting any kind of permission to stay in Israel legally is almost impossible. The emotional stress of living there will take a toll on you and your family. And, you will face hostility from those Israelis who fear that you are there to take their souls.
Please understand that religious Jews believe that converting to Christianity is worse than death – that it will send them to Hell. And, they believe that the Christians who come to live in Israel are there precisely to capture the souls of their children and take them away.
And, I completely understand their fear.
How would you feel if a Muslim family moved in next door, and one of them started sharing the wonderfulness of Islam with your children?
Right. You’d want to start bashing heads.
Okay, so now you know how Israelis feel.
But, They Won’t Treat You Badly
Now, this doesn’t mean that you will be treated badly. I wasn’t, and it’s a tribute to how honorable the Israelis are, that they were willing to treat me with friendship – even though I represented what many of them feared. In fact, you will meet very, very much that is good among the Israelis – if you are willing to see it.
Although, you will also meet the bad. Most of the stories that vilify Israel are completely untrue, but not all of them. There are bad Israelis out there, just as with any country or people. But, it will be God who deals with that.
The Most Dreadful Verse In The Bible
This is where the biggest problem of all comes in.
If there is one verse in the Bible that I dread, it’s this one:
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. – Zechariah 13:8
The context of chapter 12 and chapter 13 of Zechariah is the salvation of Israel. But, the above verse also speaks of the great death and destruction that will come just before it. Two thirds of the people that I love are going to die, and I would do anything to stop that, if I could.
But, I can’t because this is the decree of the Lord.
I believe that Jerusalem will be spared, and other parts of Israel will be spared. But, I believe that the greatest devastation will be centered on Tel Aviv, which is an exceedingly sinful city. I once tried to move there, but God blocked me.
I won’t go into all of that, except to say that Israel is going to go through some horrifyingly bad times. And, even though Jerusalem will be spared, it too will suffer – as will all of Israel.
This May Cost You Your Life
Please consider this, if God is calling you to Israel. It may cost you your life, as well as the lives of those who go with you. If you are okay with that, then that’s fine.
I am also okay with that, since I know that it doesn’t matter what happens to me. Serving God when and where He wants is the only important consideration.
Israeli Christians Will Be Spared The Antichrist
But, there is one extremely bright spot, in all of this.
Israeli Christians are the only group of people that God has promised to protect from the Antichrist. And THAT is fascinating to think about. We see this in Revelation 12, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Jeremiah 30 and elsewhere.
Will God protect other groups of Christians from the Antichrist?
Well, because the Antichrist is stymied in Revelation 12, it does offer some hope – but, not a guarantee. The only Biblical guarantee that we have is that at least some portion of Israel will be saved from the Antichrist.
Here’s the key verse:
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. – Revelation 12:14
If you want to be a part of that flight ‘into the wilderness’, you MUST be there. And, I have a suspicion that you will need to go through the terrible tragedy of Zechariah 13:8, to be there for the flight to the wilderness.
However, I could be wrong about that. It may be possible for you to go to an interim location, and wait for Zechariah 13:8 to happen, and then get to Israel. I really don’t know.
What Matters Most
Ultimately, it won’t matter. The point is to serve the Lord to the best of your ability. If that means risking your life in Israel, that is where you should be. But, it also might mean going to Taiwan, Uruguay, the hills of Georgia or southern Tennessee.
But, you won’t know where you should go, if you are not walking with the Lord.
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Have you confessed your sins before God, turned away from them and asked Him to forgive you?
Have you turned off your television and disentangled yourself from the sinfulness of this world?
Are you reading the precious word of God?
Are you talking to your Father, every day – all day?
Are you willing to submit to the Lord’s direction, wherever He might lead you?
If so, then I would have to say that you are ready. The next step would be to seek God’s guidance.
For those who aren’t ready…
…I think that you know what you need to do.
I truly hope that you’ll be ready for this
(That’s a link. There’s not much time left.)
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. – Proverbs 22:3
If you find a flaw in my reasoning, have a question, or wish to add your own viewpoint, leave a comment on the website. Your input is truly welcome.
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