President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) used the annual national prayer breakfast yesterday to appeal for help in dealing with the government and family crises currently plaguing his administration.
"I believe if more Christians and Taiwanese people pray to God, we will find hope in adversity," he said. "May God bless Taiwan, give our people peace and happiness and grant me guidance."
Chen made the appeal during the sixth national prayer breakfast held in Taipei yesterday morning. The annual event, organized by the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, was initiated by Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明) in 2001 after he attended a similar prayer breakfast event in South Korea.
Kao decided to start a similar event in Taiwan where politicians and business leaders can set aside their differences and join in prayer for the country's common good.
Speaking in front of a large banner reading "hope in adversity," Chen prayed for peace and hope for the nation and expressed his wish that the people of Taiwan would continue to love their home and the country.
"While the people of Taiwan have become better off, there is still much room for improvement in the distribution of social resources and economic justice," he said.
Quoting Deuteronomy, Chen said that "When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied" (Deuteronomy 26:12).
On the barriers the country encounters in the international arena, Chen prayed that a breakthrough would be made soon.
Chen also prayed that God would take pity on China's tens of millions of Christians and let them enjoy freedom of religious belief.
"Let them have the courage and wisdom to `act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God' [Micah 6:8]," he said. "We'd like to see all Chinese people relish life and human dignity and all Asian countries be free from the missile threat posed by China."
Prayers, Chen said, are not only about talking to God, as one should also listen to what God has to say in return about the meaning and purpose of life.
"Through prayer, we can learn about our faith in God, our feeling for the land and our love for the people," he said.
Kao, who has been a long-term supporter of Chen, preached on the topic of "hope in adversity."
There were many adversities in the world, Kao said, but it was important to be brave, to have the courage to admit mistakes and to repent. Without repentance, God would offer no blessing, he said.
Citing a story from the Bible, Kao said that there was a corrupt and selfish official and one day, he ran into God and decided to change himself. He gave away half of his wealth to the poor.
"That is repentance," Kao said. "Politicians should be like this, political parties should act like this and every single one of us here should be like this, so there will be hope for this country."
Greed was the source of all evil, Kao said, and only to admit the sin and be penitent will God offer his clemency and blessing.
Chen, whose son-in-law Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘) is in custody for his involvement in an alleged insider trading scandal, appeared heavy-hearted while listening to Kao's sermon.