‘As I joined the procession for Matsu, the goddess of the sea, I knew this was the year I would receive the greatest blessings.’
Chang is a pleasant man in his thirties who works in a bookstore. He has taken part in Matsu processions for several years encouraged by his mother. During Matsu’s birthday each year, thousands of people follow an image of the goddess on a 340km pilgrimage through the south of Taiwan. In the towns and villages the procession passes through, residents kneel down in a line on the streets so the image of the goddess will pass over them and rain her blessings on them. In turn they hand out food and drink to the pilgrims following the goddess.
Chang jokingly said that despite the physical exertion of the pilgrimage, he’d gain weight from all the refreshments handed out! He would take his turn carrying the heavy wooden rods supporting the palanquin (sedan chair) the image of Matsu sits on. Chang put up with the lack of a proper place to sleep and long days of walking in the sun because he believed he would receive Matsu’s blessing and peace as a result. For him, the blessing would mean more money and peace would be a trouble-free life.
But Chang’s greatest blessing that year looked quite different to what he’d expected. A few months after the Matsu procession, an attractive co-worker invited him to church. He went along just to be with her but soon began seeking the Christian God in earnest. As Chang learnt about Jesus he was attracted to follow him. However, he had always worshipped many gods and he worried they would make his life a misery if he stopped worshipping them. The missionary in the church called him often and arranged for him to read the Bible with another man in church. Chang began learning that God the Creator was more powerful than the gods he had prayed to all his life. Even though life has not been as smooth as he had hoped, he has confidence that he has found peace, a very different peace from what he had imagined.
In November of the same year he last went on the pilgrimage, he was baptised and received the greatest blessing of all.
Will you pray for Taiwan?
- Praise God that knowing him is the greatest blessing any of us can know and for Taiwanese Christians inviting their friends and colleagues to church services and events.
- Pray for those who want to follow Jesus but feel held back by their past to find the freedom of worshipping him, like Chang did.
- Pray for Chang as he continues to follow Jesus and for Taiwanese Christians to know that they are blessed by God to be a blessing to those around them.