Chinese new year

 In All

The roads were quiet as I drove to my language helpers shop and home on the eve of Chinese New Year. As I drove I noticed many shops and homes had Chinese lanterns and outside many Thai homes I saw tables prepared for the offering to the ancestors and idols. I was surprised to see how many were celebrating Chinese New Year, I had not previously realized how many Thai Chinese lived in our area.

Upon arrival at Ribbin’s (my language helper) shop and home I was welcomed in. The kitchen table was laden with food; ducks, chickens, fruit, dessert, rice and more. Everyone in the family was busy arranging food on platters, setting up tables in front of each ‘god’ that the family had. Ribbin’s family had 3 areas to set up inside their house and then they set up an area outside for their ancestors and the ‘god of their property’. Each area had to have a whole chicken, a whole duck, rice, a platter of fruit with at least 5 different fruits and various desserts. Each area also had tea and Chinese wine for the spirits to drink. The outside area also had paper money, shoes, clothes, accessories, etc for the deceased to use in the afterlife.
Until now, I had not realized that Chinese New Year was about offerings to appease the sprits and ancestors. As I watched this family light incense sticks and pray before each of the altars in and around their home I couldn’t help but be saddened. They were hoping that their offering would be enough to appease the spirits and thus ensure good fortune and happiness in the year ahead. There was no joy in their labor, it was merely a ritual that had to be performed. Once every member of the family had lit their incense sticks and prayed before all the altars the ‘crackers’ were lit. These loud bangs signified that the worship was over. The family then waited until the lit candles at each altar had burned down before removing the food. Once the candles had burnt out it signified that the spirits had finished.

I was grateful for the opportunity to be part of Chinese New Year with this family, but I left with a heavy heart. I was once again brought to my knees to pray for the many that have not yet met Jesus and do not know the freedom that we have in Him. Please join me in praying for the unreached to hear the good news.

Bruce & Trish Bartleet

 

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