[Taiwan Church News] The 8th National Prayer Breakfast will be held on November 29th, 2008 at the Taipei International Convention Center. Besides inviting President Ma Ying-jeou, event organizers decided to grant access to the local media so that the event may be reported across the nation. This decision is in sharp contrast to last year’s policy where reporters were denied entry because the event was deemed to be religious and private.
According to reports, last year’s event organizers decided to bar the media from the conference room because they wanted to protect the dignity and sacredness of the prayer meeting. Live broadcast of the event was denied on the grounds that the outer walls of the venue (Mackay Hospital) were under construction, making the venue unfit for live broadcast. Reporters were allowed to gather in an adjacent room instead and viewed a live feed of the events from there. Organizers issued an official statement for the media following the event. Overall, the last National Prayer Breakfast attended by former president Chen Shui-bian was not highly publicized by the local media.
This year’s National Prayer Breakfast promises to be friendlier toward both newly elected President Ma Ying-jeou and the national media. Several pastors and event organizers met after last year’s National Prayer Breakfast and decided that national media should be allowed entry to report on all future National Prayer Breakfast meetings. This change of policy is mainly due to their desire to have such events influence Taiwanese society. However, some pastors question the change of policy as favoring President Ma over the former president.
In response, this year’s National Prayer Breakfast event coordinator and chairman of Overseas Radio and Television Inc. Hong Shan-Chiun said he was unable and unqualified to criticize how events were organized in the past and he would follow the guidelines set up by event organizers. However, he noted that the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan was fully supportive of this year’s event and he hoped everyone would leave the past behind them and focus on how to make this year’s event a national blessing.
According to event organizers, this year’s National Prayer Breakfast guest list includes prominent pastors and successful Christian entrepreneurs – not unlike guest lists from previous years – and the total number of participants is currently at 720. The day will kick off with a 30-minute breakfast meeting at 7:30 a.m. The chairperson of the meeting, Pastor Kho Sing-doh (Shiu Cheng-dao), will announce the beginning of the prayer session and President Ma is expected to arrive around 8:00 a.m. This year’s theme is “Transformation – How to be Spiritual Influencers of the Country”.
This year’s speakers are Kou Shao-en (in Mandarin) and James C.C. Shia (in Taiwanese). A youth choir and an indigenous choir are scheduled to perform during the breakfast meeting. Following the sermons, President Ma will give a seven-minute speech and pastors will then pray for him. After the president leaves the meeting, attendees will conclude the meeting with a final prayer for all political leaders in Taiwan. The meeting is scheduled to adjourn around 9:30 a.m. after a short presentation on Taiwan’s economy, politics, media, entertainment industry, technology, family issues, etc.
In order to avoid making the National Prayer Breakfast meeting seem like a one-time event, organizers began promoting a 40-Day Prayer Handbook since October 20th. This campaign will last until the day of the meeting and its purpose is to call upon Christians to pray for their national leaders, country, society, and the upcoming National Prayer Breakfast.
[Editor's note: Lin Yi-ying contributed to this report and Lydia Ma wrote this article.]