Letter from a teacher in China

Today has been the last of our three-day Qingming Festival, otherwise known as Tomb-Sweeping Festival. I celebrate by getting three days off of school, but others here celebrate by cleaning off the gravesites of their ancestors. The long winter months have undoubtedly brought unsightly growth, decay and weather-beating that needs to be cleared away. Most who celebrate this festival not only clean off the gravesite, but worship those who have already passed on. Often they will burn piles of paper money, which is supposed to be a supply for them in their next life. On my way home at night, I've seen many intersections with piles of burning papers. I even heard that some people keep their ancestors up to date with technology, burning paper replicas of iPads and iPhones so grandpa can stay current in the next life. To me, it seems so delusional. If it's a paper copy of money or an iPad, how can burning not only change it into the real thing, but also send it to a spiritual world to somehow be used? But they have been blinded. This is a good reminder to me of the importance of sharing truth whenever I can.

It’s ironic that the Tomb-Sweeping Festival falls just before Easter. Each year the Chinese people return to a grave that is still occupied to wipe away the year's damage, remaining in bondage to serving ancestors in hopes that when they die the next generation will take care of them just as devotedly. There is no hope—only fear. But each year we are reminded of the grave we know has been emptied. I'm thankful that we can remind ourselves of this every day, but especially at this time of year. His grave was emptied so that we don't remain in bondage. We have no fear—only hope that when our bodies die, no one needs to come tend our souls. We can trust that He will be with us in life and in death, and that He is so much greater a treasure than the latest iPhone, paper or real!

Recently He's been inviting me to 'sweep out' my heart, to examine myself to find what needs to be changed. I've found that though I often think I’m here to help others grow, He's really bringing about my own growth. I've seen again the deceitfulness of my own heart and how easy it is to believe anything but the truth of His word. Lately, He's been taking me through a series of disappointments which have all pointed me back to how great a treasure He is, and how much more surpassing His worth is than anything I can gain in this life. I'm not treasuring Him as He truly deserves. Tomb-Sweeping day has provided an opportunity to reflect on what needs to be cleaned out in my life. It's like another way for Him to remind me of his words in Hosea, “break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord.”

Please remember us during the next couple of weeks as we share about Easter. Ask that He would protect and guide our sharing and lead us to the opportunities that He wants us to take.