Come with us on a journey into a culture full of religions, spirits, demons and rituals. A culture of smiles, and yet no one is really happy. Sandra and Stephan Hunziker have lived in Southeast Asia for more than five years. They paint and share with us an impressive picture of the people in their country of assignment.
For various reasons, we refrain from mentionning our exact location. That is why we are simply writing about «our village» in Southeast Asia. It is a beautiful place and we have settled in quickly. The people are very friendly and spend a lot of time outside the house. This provides ample opportunities for seeing each other and talking together. When walking through our village, we have noticed that each house also has a small spirit house. They are built for the spirits who own this land. People make offerings to them and ask for their help. Otherwise, bad luck will befall them - that is the widespread superstition among the locals.
DAILY VISIT OF THE MONKS
There are four temples in our neighbourhood and many monks who walk the streets in the morning. They walk barefoot, show no emotion whatsoever, look neither to the left nor to the right. They have to behave this way because these are the rules. The villagers give them food in a big bowl, then these «normal» people kneel down and the monks pray for them. It is a monotonous prayer, in a «sacred» language that the villagers do not understand.
THE FEAR OF THE KARMA
Often, we just stand there and watch the scene. We are impressed by the people who live out their religion so devotedly, publicly, humbly, faithfully – but without any sign of an emotion, they are absolutely unemotional. One day I asked an elderly woman what she hoped to get out of all these rituals. She answered: «Money, gold, and that I don't have to suffer.» The woman is a well-known sorceress in the village, she sells lucky charms and other amulets. She is very religious, but something frightens her. Something holds her captive, as if she were entwined by the tentacles of a giant octopus. It is the fear of suffering. Because she believes that at some point Karma will hit her and she will have to pay for the evil she has done. Therefore, she tries to do as much good as possible – in the hope that she will have to suffer less in the future.
THE ATTEMPT TO SAVE ONESELF
The fear of doing something wrong and being punished for it paralyses people. That is why so much is so unemotional here. The old sorceress blames herself that her former husband had abused her. She is convinced that she had deserved to be punished in that way. When the fear of suffering takes you in like that, you end up in all kinds of rituals and addictions to somehow avert it. People here are self-focused and try to save themselves. Outwardly, they do good works just to look and appear somewhat good. They hope that their own Karma will improve and yet they remain trapped in uncertainty. For they do not know when Karma will strike again and punish them.
THE REAL PROBLEM
The biggest problem of the sorceress however is not the suffering that might befall her, nor what she did in the past. The real problem is that she is separated from God and trapped under the dominion of rituals and fears. Recently, the woman fell ill and then died. Until then, unfortunately, no one really told her about God and his love and forgiveness in a fruitful way. But we keep at it, because through Jesus Christ, salvation is available for all people. He is the way, the truth and the life!
After the death of the sorceress, her son stepped up and took over the business with the lucky charms and amulets. And nothing has changed, the monks come and go every morning, but the fear among the inhabitants remains. It is about time that the redeeming gospel is proclaimed in this village. Please pray with us that God will open the hearts of the people here and that they will accept Jesus Christ as their saviour.
the Hunziker family