Retired Missionary “Papa Tan” Returns to Taiwan Despite Pandemic

As the Missionary founder of Taitung Christian Hospital in Taiwan, Frank Dennis devoted 33 years before retiring back to America.

TAIWAN — As the missionary founder of Taitung Christian Hospital in Taiwan, Frank Dennis devoted 33 years of his life to the island before retiring back to his native home in America. This year at age 91, he returned with his son in mid-September to attend the opening of a new oncology wing and the 70th anniversary celebration of The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). Dennis also caught up with old friends and co-workers and shared his faith at medical colleges, nonprofits, and elementary schools.

Frank Dennis, TCH Founder:

You might not understand what God wants to you do. But whatever it is, you must say, Lord, if it’s Your will, I will do it.

A fresh medical school graduate in 1961, Dennis was commissioned by TEAM as a medical missionary to Taiwan, where tuberculosis was rampant. In Taitung County, Dennis saw the need for a hospital. He worked his fingers to the bone and raised funds to open one. In 1994, he was awarded the Order of Brilliant Star by the president, and his story, titled “Papa Tan Forever,” became a part of the local elementary school curriculum. After retiring in 1995, Papa Tan often traveled between Taiwan and the US to share his testimony. His wife and travel companion, Sally Dennis, dearly known as “Mama Tan,” passed away this April. For Papa Tan, this trip back to Taiwan brought back many memories of Mama Tan, whom his missed so dearly.

Frank Dennis:

Coming to Taiwan without my wife makes me very sad. After retirement, my wife and I have lots of fun together. Our favorite is coming to Taiwan. She loves Taiwan. So many friends and things she loved. The food, scenery, all of it. I saw former patients, friends, and colleagues. Back in the day, my surgical assistants were young ladies. Now they’re all grandmothers!

Every time Dennis spoke, he employed many fascinating props. One of his simple yet profound illustrations uses 16 nails to symbolize the difficulties of life, and how in the end, we must have faith and the Holy Spirit as our foundation.

Frank Dennis:

This challenge is called the “Nails of Life.” The goal is to hang all the nails here. Christians have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By His power we can do all things, and put all things on this altar. Like this, okay?

Having spent a large part of his life here, Dennis considers Taiwan his second home. So in the midst of a pandemic, despite his old age and the quarantine requirements, Dennis continued to make the journey back to Taiwan. His life is a model of servanthood and sacrifice, and an inspiration for us all.

Read more news on Taiwan and World Missions on Missions Box.

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