As we walked down the street yesterday morning to our destination, we encountered an act of worship that left me both stunned and brokenhearted. A woman crossed the road in front of us, heading for a monk robed in bright orange cloth. When she reached him, she removed her shoes and stepped in front of him. She spooned rice into the covered dish he held in his hands, placed a bag of fresh food on his plate, then bowed lowed to the ground with her hands pressed together. I watched as a young man dressed in normal clothing took the offerings and stored them in a large bag he was holding for the monk.
We passed on by, but the image in my head wouldn’t go away. I began to pray that they would see Him. That they would encounter Jesus in a life altering way that left them no choice but to abandon all the false worship they were practicing. Emotion clogged my throat as the realization hit me that this was normal for them. That this is all they know.
It proved to be more normal than I had imagined in the next few moments.
As we neared the end of the street, I noticed another woman bowing low to the ground, praying. There were a few women standing near her, but she was alone in the middle of the sidewalk worshipping something. My curiosity got the best of me, and I looked over my shoulder after we passed, only to see that same monk walking toward the women, following the steps we had just walked. The other women began to prepare themselves to offer him sacrifice and worship.
Again with the vice grip on my heart.
We walked over the sky bridge to get across the busy intersection, and I noticed below me even more women praying. They were holding bags of food in their hands and had their shoes off in readiness. There was a table set up nearby that they had stored their purses so they could be focused on their worship. We were just steps ahead on the path of the monk. I wanted to turn and scream,
IT’S NOT TRUE!!
I am filled with so many questions. How had it come to this? What reward were they seeking, and how was their worship beneficial to anyone other than the monk who got a load of free food? Why would they stand and wait for this mere mortal dressed in garish orange when the True God was already right beside them just waiting for them to acknowledge Him? It hurts to think that the reason they participate in these rituals is because they don’t know any better. They have no idea that Jesus died for them. That removing their shoes for a man doesn’t mean he is holy…that the only holy ground is the ground Christ Jesus is on. That Jesus doesn’t require food sacrifices, that He simply wants our belief and love.
Oh how I wish for an easy, all compassing way to spread His Truth through this land. That the idols and altars set up in front of every place of business in Thailand would be torn down. That we could make a difference somehow in the month we are here.
Use me Lord Jesus, use me.