Rev. Johan Tidemann Johansen — A missionary who served Hakka communities

Chinese Name
: 尤約翰

Born: January 5, 1938

Birthplace: Norway

Rev. Johan Tidemann Johansen’s father came to Taiwan to set up a church in Taichung’s Dongshi Township in 1961, a time when local medical resources were quite scarce. In 1969, more medical staff joined him, and a clinic was established next to the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church to serve the residents of Dongshi through medical missionary work.

Growing up in Norway, Rev. Johansen inherited his father's sense of duty and dedication. He brought his wife and children to Taichung’s Fengyuan District, where he studied Mandarin Chinese for one-and-a-half years before relocating to Dongshi. Together with his wife Kari Bratveit, they began providing medical services and introducing the Bible to local residents.

Rev. Johansen started the children's Sunday school in Dongshi. As a physician, his wife Kari treated townspeople and drove to various villages to provide medical care. The husband-and-wife team integrated themselves with local society. Rev. Johansen even studied the Hakka language diligently. He thought that speaking their language was a way to show respect for the local community, and that doing so would make it easier for him to grow closer to them and learn more about Hakka culture. The couple devoted the best years of their lives to the Hakkas of Dongshi.

Rev. Johansen saw that Taiwan’s medical services were gradually becoming more available and developed, but care for the elderly was still lacking. In 1991, the original clinic beside the church was transformed into an elderly care center catering to local senior citizens.

Rev. Johansen also recorded Taiwan's rural development with a camera during his expeditions. He walked through every corner of Dongshi to care for the elderly who resided in remote mountain areas and captured images of Dongshi residents in their daily lives. Later, these well-preserved photographs were edited into a documentary and given as a gift to the local community.

Presently, Dongshi has the largest greying population in Taichung. Because Rev. Johansen noticed the aging problem more than 20 years ago, the center has been able to develop in a way that never failed to meet the needs of the elderly there. Rev. Johansen returned to Norway upon retirement, and the work of evangelization and elderly care in Dongshi has been taken up by his colleagues. However, he still comes back to Dongshi every year to visit his colleagues and old friends, and keep up to date with the church's gospel mission and the senior center.

Rev. Johansen has provided medical care to Taichung’s remote mountain areas for over five decades, truly cared for the elderly living there, and even kept a complete record of Dongshi’s culture and progress in the 1950s and 1960s. In 2017, the Hakka Affairs Council presented the Hakka Contribution Award to Rev. Johansen and thanked him for his selfless, half-century dedication to Taiwan’s Hakka people.