Above all powers
‘Would you like a glass of grape juice?’ Hien asked. It seemed like a straightforward enough question, but the grape juice had just been taken from family altar. Hien loyally makes daily offerings of incense, food and flowers to the spirits of her deceased grandparents. According to her ID card, Hien is Buddhist, and this is how she would describe herself. The front room of her home is dominated by the large altar and in the kitchen, Hien also has a smaller altar to the Kitchen God and other deities. Like most Vietnamese, Hien is very afraid of ghosts.
Most homes in Vietnam will have an altar used to worship the family’s ancestors. Often incorporated into larger pieces of furniture, doubling up as a TV cabinet or bookshelf for example, they are elaborately decorated with lanterns, incense and offering bowls along with photographs of deceased relatives.
The spirit world is viewed as a continuation of life and so dead ancestors still need material goods. These are provided by burning paper money, cars and other model items. When the family receives a gift, such as a box of chocolates or something, the gift will be placed on the altar for the ancestors to enjoy first. After a few days it is acceptable for the family to remove it and eat or drink it themselves. Because they believe their ancestors can influence their lives for good or bad, families make these offerings to their ancestors to keep them appeased.
New believers often carry baggage from their involvement with the spirits, and need to be taught who really is above all powers.
- Pray for a breakthrough of God's power into fear that grips many Vietnamese hearts, as they strive to please the spirits.
- Pray for ways to break through the traditional worship superstitions in Vietnam that are a barrier to true belief in Jesus.
- Pray for people to hear the truth that Jesus is over all creation, and through him they can be set free from spiritual bondage.