It is Ghost Month in Taiwan.
The most common belief here is that when one dies, he or she goes to a spirit world. Depending on how one has lived or whether or not their living family will continue to offer sacrifices, the person can either enter a place of happiness or unrest. Almost all traditional Taiwanese homes have an altar to worship their ancestors, which ensures that their family members in the spirit world are taken care of and have what they need to live there.
But spirits/ghosts without family to offer sacrifices, those who have lived an unkind life or even those who have experienced undeserved wrongs, premature death, etc. all end up in a place of unrest.
Ghost Month is a period of time when ghosts are believed to be released from their place of unrest. They are free to enter the physical world to do whatever they want and can satisfy their “hunger”. So it is imperative that the living appease these “hungry ghosts” by preparing tables full of food & drink. They are offered material goods in the form of paper burnt up to them. Whatever is burned & offered can be used in the spirit world by the hungry ghosts and in return the hungry ghosts leave them alone. This is important because remember the unhappy ghosts have been freed and may choose to enter one’s home or business to bring bad fortune & curse. Fear of bad fortune and curse is the main motivation for appeasing the ghosts during this time of year.
Today as I was walking around our neighborhood, I saw many homes & businesses that had set up food tables & were burning paper money.
Today I noticed something different that scared me. No, I didn’t see a ghost. It was a lot worse…
This is the 4th Ghost Month that we are experiencing in Taiwan. This time it was as though I was used to looking at these practices. I remember being more alarmed when I went through Ghost Month for the first time. I thought to myself how funny (maybe the more fitting word here is sad) that our world has a way of desensitizing our spirit to what is not of God. I really had to stop & pray.
Please join us in prayer as we go through Ghost Month. Despite tradition & fear, may some still hear the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ through Taiwanese Christians & missionaries.