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Thoughts on faith and life at Friendship Church

Michelle Ko: Return to Africa

Peter Brown

by Michelle Ko


Greetings from Taiwan. This is my most updated newsletter from Taiwan before my departure to Tanzania on Feb 21, 2019. Praise the Lord! I am able to return to Mtwara, Tanzania and continue to serve Him on African soil. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” - Isaiah 54:10

No More Sickness

The year 2018 was a very dramatic year. In July I suddenly became ill and lost my vision temporarily. Then I endured many different medical exams and treatments in Tanzania. My vision didn’t improve, and I was very ill after a spinal tap. At that time, the African doctor highly suspected I had multiple sclerosis (MS). I flew back to Taiwan for further medical exams and to receive better care and rest. After months I had another brain MRI in Taiwan. The Taiwanese doctor confirmed and has assured me that I don’t have MS. The sickness I experienced was caused by enormous stress in Tanzania which I didn’t realize I was experiencing.

Wow! I couldn’t believe it when I heard the latest MRI result that I don’t have MS. Moreover, I was very thankful for God’s protection and believe He is using the incident to send me a message of good selfcare.

Reflect and Restart


As I reflect on my time in Tanzania (TZ), I realize it was a very tough situation when I arrived in Mtwara (see map). The weather was so HOT, and I struggled with food and transportation. On top of that, I needed to know my surroundings to look for a place to rent and to start from scratch to set up a home.

God mercifully sent a Tanzanian pastor who has a car to help me purchase and transport all the materials I needed to repair the house I rented. Thankfully, I still remembered how to speak Swahili (TZ’s national language), which helped when communicating with the workers who repaired the house.

I like challenges and strive to pursue excellence—I want things to be done timely and in my own way. At times I push myself too hard and I trust my own ability more than I trust in God’s sovereignty. The day the house was ready to move into was the day I lost my vision and the illness began.

I believe the sickness was God’s compassion for me to teach me to trust Him alone and not do things on my own. I am starting all over again learning baby steps on my spiritual journey, but I rejoice that it is never too late.

Prayer items:

• Pray for me to slow down and take time to enjoy the beautiful life God has given me.

• Thank God for His provision in everything I need and please pray He continues to supply all my needs, especially finances.

Thank you for your love, prayers, encouragements, and financial support. I humbly ask you to continue to journey with me on this mission.

In His time,

Michelle Ko

FB: MichelleKoInAfrica What’s App: +255 628 097 198 Line ID: 61 488 029 218


5 Questions With...Cory Zimmerman

Peter Brown


1. How did you first get involved with Friendship Presbyterian? My wife (fiancée at the time) Sarah and I heard about Friendship from a member of our former church in Washington, D.C., and we checked it out when we visited Taiwan for the first time in February 2017. After moving here that summer, we attended a church closer to where we live in Tianmu before re-visiting and then joining Friendship this past fall.

2. What do you do Monday through Saturday? I am a college counselor at Taipei American School, where I work with students in grades 11 and 12 as they consider where they would like to attend college and how best to go about preparing and applying. Apart from logistics and deadlines, much of the job has to do with dealing with the stresses and anxieties that come with the college application process, as well as the discovery process that students can experience while making decisions about their future. From November through January, I also assist with coaching the varsity swim team (I am a former competitive swimmer, myself).

3. What is something people might be surprised to know about you? It might be surprising to know that I have spent almost half my life living outside the U.S., my home country. I never attended grade school in the U.S., but I lived there for fifteen years after graduating high school. Moving to Taiwan was a return to a home region for me, as I had lived in Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan as a child. This time, I get to experience it with my wife! This is Sarah's first time living overseas, and I love learning new things about Taiwan and the world by seeing it through her perspective.

4. What do you find most challenging about being a Christian today? Relatedly, as someone with an affection for the places and people I have met through the years, I can fall prey to the temptation of seeing this world as something closer to the perfect creation that it once was, rather than the fallen place that it is. Couple that with all the modern distractions with which we can engage, and it can lead to complacency on my part, when instead fervent prayer and reliance upon God for my every need are what I was made to do. Another challenge is being a relative newlywed (~1.5 years) and striving, by God's grace, to be a Christ-like example to my wife. It is a tall order and a daily reason to seek God's wisdom.

5. What is one of your favorite books of the Bible? For many years I would have pointed to Esther as my favorite book of the Bible because it plays like a movie screenplay (and I love movies!), while also displaying God's faithfulness to His people. Today, I would say Hosea is my favorite for how it displays God's burning passion for justice and for His beloved: "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?...My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender" (Hos. 11:8). I once heard a pastor sum up Hosea this way: "God answers our [spiritual] adultery with fidelity." As someone who struggled for many years to understand and accept God's grace, this truth is a balm to my soul.