Tomorrow is Lunar New Year; it’s a time when the Chinese families return home for family reunion and celebration to welcome the New Year. While some traditions may conflict with their faith, some Christians worry that they may get into conflict with their loved ones.
Elder Meng-En Cheng, who visits China on a frequent basis to teach the gospel, shared with The Gospel Herald that Christians may abide by a principle – they should distinguish themselves from idol-worshippers, but testify and explain gently to family members.
Instead of waiting until the New Years to profess one’s faith, Christians should be good testimonies immediately after their conversion; if we are good witnesses in normal occasions, then others will understand and sympathize when it is time to burn incense and worship the gods.
Christians should be separated from superstitions and idols and from worshipping idols and things offered to idols and shouldn’t eat the food used as offering in idol-worshipping, but should speak gently with family in private, stating clearly one’s Christian faith; however, do not be overly forceful.
During Lunar New Year, a popular game played among the Chinese is mahjong. Cheng said that it is not biblical to gamble, so even if you are only playing around, you might get affected by these cultures.
If a Christian receives testimonies and shows himself as devout at regular times, then his family members will most likely not ask him to participate even if they are missing a player for mahjong, which needs four players to play.
Furthermore, Cheng encouraged Christians to go home to spend time with their family during the New Years, because it’s a time to be a witness of love to them. The Bible teaches us that if possible to live in peace with one another, to be the salt and light of this world, so it is important to form relationships of love and care with relatives and friends.
Furthermore, as sons and daughters, we have the duty to show respect to our parents and show our care for the elderly especially during this New Year’s season, he said.
Although we should live in this way at all times, they need extra care at this time of the year. Our parents and seniors usually feel lonelier at reunion times, so it is necessary to take time off from our busy schedules to show our affections to them.
The more important thing is to be a good testimony, which will allow the family members to see the goodness of the gospel and thus place their faith in the Lord.
Another time-honored tradition is the exchange of New Year’s greetings, such as “gong xi fa chai”, which means wish you a prosperous New Year. Instead, Cheng suggested saying “xin nian mong fu”, which means wish you receive blessings in this New Year, since Christians consider blessings from heaven as greater than the worldly treasures.
Moreover, the elder said that Christians can bless others with words from the biblical perspectives. When giving gifts, we can insert small gospel tracts. When others greet us, we should return the greeting politely, showing a generous side, so we can show off this positive aspect of Christians. Avoid being overzealous, which can cause others to stumble.
During the meetings with relatives and family members, Christians can build an intimate relationship with them, testify about Jesus a step further, share our own or other’s testimonies, describing God’s work, and invite them to attend evangelism conferences.
[Editor's note: reporter Carol Yu contributed to this report.]