Te-Chien (Andrew) Chang is preparing to retire in July as general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) following 20 years of service in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s partner’s General Assembly office in the country’s capital, Taipei.
Chang’s service to the church has been marked by his deep commitment to Christian formation, protection of his country’s natural environment, advocacy for the economic and human rights of the country’s indigenous peoples, and global ecumenism.
Chang is a gifted story teller and his talents as a photographer enrich his daily posting of Bible text to his Facebook page. He is also a regular blogger. But it is perhaps his passion for growing food that is the most apt metaphor for his gifts as a practical theologian attuned to the needs of his country.
Chang’s face lights up when he talks of the benefits of communal gardening. He has seen computer scientists rediscover life in all its fullness when they take time to leave their pressure-filled offices and work with their families on small plots he has made available on land borrowed from a local farmer.
Concern for workers in the country’s science sector which has a hidden problem of suicides fuels his missionary zeal for offering its highly-educated, deeply stressed employees the possibility of sowing a new life while planting seeds. Some of those part-time gardeners grow into full-time Christians.
As Chang moves into his retirement years, his active involvement in his country’s life and challenges will continue.
He plans to develop model leadership and programs with indigenous peoples that will help them create and manage income-generating programs in local communities.
The objective is to create jobs in the agricultural and arts sectors that will bring young people home from the country’s urban centers where they are often exploited and led into addiction or prostitution.
This gardener continues to plant dreams, rooted in his deep Christian faith. The harvest will continue in the years to come.
Kristine Greenaway serves as head of the Office of Communications for the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The PC(USA) is a WCRC member. church.