A story from OMF in Asia
January 23, 2012 welcomed in the Year of the Dragon. Many, if not the majority, of people in Middle Village visited their local temple to burn lucky paper and incense as they sought good luck and blessings for themselves and their families for the coming year.
Every year, for as long as E can remember, she‘s woken early on the morning of Chinese New Year, put on the new clothes and new shoes she’s received from her parents, eaten breakfast, and walked with her family up the hill to the temple. She’s 21 years old now but, because she’s single and still living at home with her parents, the ritual remains unchanged and she is expected to participate.
A couple of things were different this year, however. First, while on the outside E appeared the same, on the inside she was not. About six months earlier E had asked Jesus to come into her heart. While she was still learning about how to live her new life in Christ she was aware that burning lucky paper and incense at the temple was not the way to do it. Her family knew of her decision and did not disapprove but she was still a member of their family. Visiting the temple to burn offerings and seek blessings was something she was expected to do.
This left E with a dilemma; she loved her parents and wanted to obey them, but she now loved God and wanted to obey him too.
The second thing that was different this year was that the family had slept in. Not only did they miss breakfast but they ended up leaving home very late. That meant that, even before they reached the temple, they could see crowds of people both inside and out. E sighed. She knew their visit would be at least two hours and was thankful they had brought some fruit with them. She also discovered this was the answer to her dilemma.
They entered the crowded temple and bought the lucky paper and incense. Pushing their way through the mass of people they began to make their way around the different shrines in the temple. The crowds meant that, while her family went through the rituals E was able to stand back and watch without participating. She is not sure whether this was the right thing to do, but she believes God helped her find a way to honour her family while not dishonouring him; for that she is very thankful.
Please continue to pray for new believers, such as E, who struggle with how to honour God without dishonouring the families they love so much.