The Tayal Church Experiences the Holy Spirit at Work

For more of the story look for the book by Grace McGill, titled The Path of Life — Memoirs of Clare and Grace McGill.

On the island of Taiwan (Formosa), which is one hundred miles off the east coast of mainland China, Christian missionaries have worked for over one hundred and twenty-five years. This island is the size of Vancouver Island in B.C. The present population (1990) is twenty million. This includes three groups of Chinese: Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka-speaking, plus ten different aboriginal tribes, each with their own language, customs and culture. From 1865 to 1945 the island was ruled by Japan and so the language of education and inter-group communications was Japanese. Since then it has changed to Mandarin Chinese. This means that Japan was ruling Taiwan during most of the birth of the Christian church in the north of the island. It was during World War II that the gospel began to take root and spread rapidly among the aboriginal tribes. Victory over Japan delivered this newborn church from severe Japanese persecution. They were set free to grow and flourish.

The Presbyterian Church has had mission work on Taiwan since 1865. There are members of most of the above-mentioned groups in the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. About one-half of these churches are in the tribal areas. Although the population of Taiwan is twenty million, only about five percent are Christian and only two-and-a-half percent are Presbyterian. This study is about how God called the people of one of these tribal groups to be part of his church and the experiences of God's discipline and direction in their lives during the past twenty years.

Rev. Clare and Mrs. Grace McGill, lived and worked with these tribal groups for thirty years. The Tayal tribe inhabit the north and central mountain regions of Taiwan. The McGills were called to Taiwan in 1959 to help translate the Bible into the language of this aboriginal group. They have witnessed some of the events in this study first-hand. Concerning other events they received the information from pastors and elders who came to discuss the happenings with them shortly after they occurred. Each one is documented as to place, date, person's name and other relevant data. It is from these files that the section on the Holy Spirit experiences in this study have come.

Professor Georgine G. Caldwell, worked in Taiwan as a missionary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada for twenty-five years. She was there when these events were happening and the McGills, who were the same mission group, shared their information and experiences with her and other members of the mission group as they received the data. She was with the McGills on Christmas Eve in 1974 and heard the prophetic messages that were given that day.

The Holy Spirit movement began in 1971 in Sakura Church of the Taroko tribe, which borders on the southern edge of the Tayal tribal area. The Taroko pastor there had spent some time studying in Japan and on his return to Sakura village in his enthusiam for the gospel sparked a revival of the church there. The new outburst of life in the village changed many lives and increased attendance and devotion at worship. But open confessions were encouraged, which resulted in great dissension in the congregation.

Nevertheless the movement gradually spread northward through visiting evangelistic groups to the Tayal churches in Nan Tou and Miao Li counties. Later, a visiting preacher from Tai An church in Miao Li county by the name of Kao came northward with a group of about a dozen believers and introduced the revival movement to Tao Shan Church in Hsin Chu county in April, 1972. The revival there initiated fervent prayer, with the people gathering at the church daily at 4:00 am.

Rev. Kao's group ministered at the Tao Shan Church for four days. One day a lengthy worship and prayer service was held away off in the mountains. The sky became dark, and heavy rain poured down. But the group continued to pray, and a circle of blue sky remained above them and no rain fell on the spot where they were meeting. The rest of the village folk were surprised to see them return with muddy feet from the trail, but with perfectly dry clothing!

Up to that point the mark of the Spirit being at work was a shaking of the body; but shortly after Rev. Kao's four day visit, new and different manifestations began to appear among the Tao Sahn believers. The parents of one fifteen year old girl named Haru were making arrangements for her to marry an unbeliever. She prayed fervently, and thought of running away, but the Lord told her to stay at home. God assured her that he would take care of her.

One day as the final arrangements were being made with the prospective husband, Haru suddently fell to the floor, speechless, with her eyeballs turned upward, and her whole body rigid as wood. The man, not wanting that kind of wife, soon took off. In a few minutes Haru returned to normal. So a few days later the man returned, but the same thing happened again. This ended the marriage arrangements.

Early morning prayer meetings continued at the Tao Shan Church, and eventually two or three other people besides Haru began receiving various messages through trances.

In villages not related to Mr. Kao's ministry others were experiencing various manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work. The following story was related to Clare by Pastor Chen who came to the McGill home in Hsinchu:

    One morning, an illiterate woman of the Tayal village was eating her rice. She heard a voice saying "Don't eat anything more until I finish speaking through you." She was sent to the preacher's home. When she arrived there she told the family that God was displeased with them because someone in the home was making kwaw (a strong liquor which the Tayals used to make and drink. It is quite potent and causes one to get drunk). The preacher was surprised at her accusation. He denied that he was doing this and assured her that ever since they became Christians they had given up strong drink.

    However she insisted that there was someone doing that and gave the message from Ephesians 5:18-19. She gave the Scripture reference, chapter and verse and told them what was in it. They looked up the reference and saw that it was just what she had said. The preacher's mother confessed that she was making the kwaw and that the others knew nothing about it.

    She visited many houses in the village bringing messages of God's displeasure at their sins and words of guidance from the Bible. At one home the husband had gone to the Taiwanese village by himself and had his palm read by the fortune teller. No one in that tribal village knew about this. She said God's message for him was "Remember King Saul" and she quoted the passage about Saul and the witch of Endor: 1 Samuel 28:7-12.

    She gave him the Bible reference to look up and he saw that it was exactly as she had quoted it. But since she couldn't read, she couldn't have known the passage, let alone the reference in the Bible.

    Another church member had sent his wife away to her parent's village and taken another wife. The message for him was that he had no grounds for separation. His wife had been good and faithful to him and should not have been treated so. She gave him biblical references about marriage.

    When the Spirit had finished using her to speak to the church members in their homes, she was told she could eat again. No one in the village said she was crazy or that she lied. The members of the church repented and prayed for forgiveness. There was much repentance and revival of faith in that village.

Clare was amazed at this story. He wrote down all that Mr. Chen had told him. He had not heard of such things happening in the churches before. He shared his notes with Grace and the other missionaries of the Canadian Presbyterian Mission (and now it is shared with us.)

Preacher, Missionary, Bible-Translator

Time Line for Clare Elliott McGill

The summer of 1949, at thirty years of age, Clare was introduced to the Summer Institute of Linguistics. He visited his friend, a Presbyterian seminarian, Russell Self, who was studying the intricasies of Descriptive Linguistics and Bible Translation at this Institute. There Clare developed the desire to become a Bible Translator for one of the world's many unwritten languages. The Path Of Life — Memoirs of Clare and Grace McGill, based on our life verse Psalm 16:11, is nearly ready for the publisher, and hopefully will be off the press about Christmas time, and available for any wishing to learn more about this exceptional and godly man.

  • May 17, 1919 – born on a farm, three miles NE of Glencoe, Ontario,to Frederick and Winnifred McGill.
  • 1925-33 – Elementary School at Ekfrid Township #7 School.
  • 1933-39 – Glencoe High School.
  • 1939-46 – Farmed in his home community.
  • 1946-49 – At University of Western Ontario, earned Pre-Theology B.A.
  • Summer of '47 – Counsellor at Pioneer Boys Camp.
  • Summers of '48, '49 – Pastor of Summer Mission Field with Presbyterian Church in Canada in Pambrun Saskatchewan.
  • 1949-52 – Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia,earned B.D.
  • Summer of '50 – Conducted DVBS in seven locations in home area.
  • May 17, 1951 – Married Mary Grace Theobald in Pambrun, Saskatchewan.
  • Summers of '51, '52 – Clare and Grace studied at Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • June 1952 – At the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada they were appointed as Missionary Bible Translators for Taiwan.
  • 1952-53 – Missionary Orientation at Kennedy School of Missions, Hartford, Conn.
  • 1953-59 – Arrived in Taiwan and began study of the Tayal language, putting it into writing and preparing literacy primers.
  • 1959-60 – Study and deputation furlough in Canada.
  • 1960-65 – Tayal Hymnbook, more books for literacy and Mark's Gospel in Tayal.
  • 1965 -66 – Deputation furlough from London, Ontario.
  • 1966-74 – Completion of translation of Tayal New Testament.
  • (1970 – Three month summer furlough.)
  • 1974-75 – Study furlough comparing Spirit Movement among Tayal with historical revival movements.
  • 1975-78 – Scripture to Tayal tunes, on records and cassette tapes.
  • 1978 – Three month summer furlough to attend son Tim's wedding, and help in summer camps.
  • 1978-81 – Ministry in Tayal churches, major hymnbook revision and enlargement.
  • 1981 – Three month summer furlough, college hunting for son Terry.
  • 1981-84 – Final ministry to Tayal Church.
  • June '84 – Tainan Theological College conferred on Clare Doctor Of Divinity, honoris causa.
  • 1984-96 – Retirement years. Highlights:
  • 1990 – Son Terry's wedding.
  • 1993 – Visit of seventeen Tayals from Taiwan to Clare in Nursing Home.
  • July 11, 1996 – Clare entered his well-earned, eternal rest.