Getting Permission

In 1998 I was the pastor of a storefront church in Kaohsiung. A student singing group from an out-of-town Bible college offered to do a neighborhood outreach program on a weekday afternoon. I laboriously wrote a letter in Chinese requesting use of a small skating rink in a nearby park, including the date, time, size of group and other details. I took this to the city hall and submitted it to the park department. A few days later my letter came back stamped “request denied” because the rink and park were too small for the proposed event.

This surprised me. On several occasions I’d seen commercial groups running medicine shows on the rink for crowds far larger than I had described in my application. On a visit to the elected neighborhood chief I learned what was “up.” The park department, he said, acted according to expectations. They said “NO” because I asked permission. He advised me to hold the activity anyway. When the day came he even provided 40 chairs and cases of drinking water.
The activity attracted few people. The choir outnumbered the congregation. It didn’t matter. A good time was had by all despite the intentions of the city government of that little lamented period in Kaohsiung’s history.

About the Author

David Alexander works at Tainan Theological College and Seminary where he is the adviser to international students

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