It was once again the time of the year when all members in the family come together for a reunion dinner on the eve of the New Year festival, a celebration following Asian traditions according to the lunar calendar. Sumptuous food have been be prepared for the annual event, and all members of the family have gathered together to celebrate the occasion with pleasurable feasting, but before that, it was customary for all food prepared for the feast to first be offered at the altar in worship to the family's ancestors and the 'god' of the house, a graven image made by man to represent the god of the Taoists.
"Here, it's your turn to pray to your grandfather for a smooth year ahead," instructed my mother as she handed me three joss sticks, indicating I should bow down in reverence to the picture of my deceased grandfather at the altar.
"But, mom," I muttered softly, "I can't do that. I'm a Christian now, and I don't pray to the dead."
My mother stared at me with disbelief at my defiance, her face expressing aggravation.
"Desmond, you are not showing respect to your ancestor, and if you persist not to honor your grandfather, I will punish you!"
"Sorry Mom, but I can't."
My mother became angry, took up a cane, and whipped at my legs again and again till I yelled and cried out in pain.
"Mom, pleaseee stop!" I stammered in my speech and begged her mercy.
"You useless and unfilial son! Unless you pay homage and show respect to your ancestor, you will not be my son from this day forward!"
My father, who was also angered at my becoming a Christian, lifted up his fist and hit me on the face so hard I fell on the ground, so my brothers, Elbert and Franz quickly held his arms, while my eldest brother Hal pulled me aside.
"Go quickly to the room," Hal said to me. "Let me handle the situation here."
Hal, Elbert, and Franz tried to calm my parents, but they were too angry to accept any explanation or reasoning. My mother was apparently deeply grieved and my father was totally disappointed with me.
"Martha, forget this son of ours," said my father to my mother. "From this day onwards, he will no longer be a part of this family, and we will not need him to be around to do any rites when we die."
I was then just a kid at the age of 16, years before I was old enough to make my own decisions legally. For the past many years before the event, I have celebrated the annual family reunion with much joy and participated along with my brothers in offering incense to our ancestors and house idols, but on that particular year after I received the Lord as my Savior, I have decided to defy my parents in following the family’s traditional practices, and refused any form of ancestral or idol worship. As a result, I was locked-up in my bedroom by my father and was starved for the night while the rest of my family celebrated the occasion with feasting.
That was the first family reunion I had after I became a Christian, and that was also the family reunion that started a series of persecution spanning many years before my parents accepted me for what I believed.
Who [then] will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35 NAS)
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38-39 NAS)
NOTE: The story in this article is fictional, although based on a true story. Names of characters have been changed to protect their identities.
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