I walked into the ornate facility and watched the faces of the crowd flooding in. There were vendors outside selling all types of merchandise. Some of those in the crowd had smiles on their faces and seemed pretty confident. Others were very distraught and anxious. Statues that had been immortalized were all around. As the game began, they called out to the gods to see if things were going to go their way that day. Then, with hands raised, they chanted — and some even bowed down.
No, I’m not talking about college football.
I was in a temple in Taiwan where young and old were bowing down to little gods made of golden images. The people of Taiwan are respectful, well-educated and hardworking people. The normal practice for them is to go to the temple every week in order for the gods to give them blessings in their life and make their life more comfortable. They are more interested in what their gods can do for them, rather than knowing their gods themselves. It seems ridiculous — until you start thinking about some North American churchgoers.
Pai Tai’s (Peggy) family regularly goes to the temple. She was a strong and energetic 25-year-old woman who helped run her family’s business — a pool hall that sits right over a storefront church space. We shot a game of pool, made small talk, and left. Then my friend Brad asked the pastor, “Why didn’t we share the gospel with her?” He said, “I don’t know why you didn’t. Do you want to go over and share?”
We reentered and asked her if we could tell her what we believed, and she became very curious. We told her about creation, the fall, sin that leads to brokenness, and the only way out of that brokenness: Jesus. We told her of the resurrection and that this separated Jesus from all other religious leaders.
I then asked Peggy, “Do you want to put your faith and trust in Jesus and lay aside your idols?” She thought a moment and said, “I will lose my family if I do?” I said, “I’m glad you are weighing out the cost. You may. But if the resurrection is true, God may use your faith to pull your family out of destruction.”
We parted ways, and she said she may ask the pastor more questions later.
Later, I thought, “Their idols are so obvious.” Then I realized that if she were to come to our town, our idols would be obvious to her, too. What is taking the place of God for you? I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with a ball, a wallet, or a cell phone. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?