We did another case study today, which involves a true account of an American Christian missionary in Japan. She spent many years in Japan, living with the people there, learning their customs and language. She made close friends including a lady who soon passed away. The daughter of the Japanese lady invited her to attend the funeral service and requested her to speak at the service. This is where the problem begins -- the rites were carried out with incense and priests, and the people who speaks at the funeral speak to the picture of the deceased and not the people. What was she to do in order to preserve her close relations with the family and yet not compromise her beliefs?
This account is not strange to us in Malaysia. There are those of us whose families are not Christians and funeral rites are a challenge to us. What can we do and what can we not do? What kind of witness would we show to those around us, Christians and non-Christians alike?
In the case study, we concluded that the missionary must accept the invitation but she also must have a word with the deceased daughter, together with the priests, to explain to them her predicament, where whilst she is more than willing to be there because of their special friendship, there are some things she cannot do because of her faith in her God. And to ask if she can be allowed to do somethings different, for example, to give a eulogy addressing the people attending the service.
In our real lives, the same can be done - we can have a discussion with the head of the family and find out ways where we can be a part of the service and yet be faithful to God. For example, whilst the ceremonies are ongoing, we can stand at the side, i.e. being there and yet not actually participating.
Being a God-fearing Christian and a fervent witness for the Lord is not an easy thing but by faith and by grace, the Lord will provide us a way when we seek for His help.