We went to a graveyard this past Tuesday. This was my first time to a major graveyard in China (I can’t fully remember if we visited a small one out in the country side on our VisionTour in 2006). It was located outside of the city on the side of a “mountain”.
When we arrived the place was empty. There was hardly any one else there. It was cold, the wind was chilly, and the ground snow covered. As we drove in the entrance we didn’t seen many graves at first. There was a lot of land that seemed untouched. But as we drove towards the back of the mountain we started to see the headstones. Our driver let us out and we started walking. We walked past a building with several “burial compartments”. Then we started down the first row of grave stones, then another row, and another row. As you can image, if you ever been in a grave yard, it seems like the rows just keep going on.
Most of the headstones here are not the traditional flat stone on the ground that I am used to seeing but they are more of a little monument. They stand tall and house the urn of the cremated person. As we looked at many of the graves we noticed that many would have more than just one person on them. Along with the Chinese writing many had pictures of the those buried there.
The next thing that caught my attention was the bowls. Bowls that I am assuming is for incense. It seemed every grave had one. Maybe the Buddhist influences are still deep in their culture (just like you see crosses in a graveyard in America because of the Christian influence). As we were walking, I picked up a piece of paper that looked like money and one side said “Hell Bank Note”. I have heard different stories about the use of these, but basically they think they can burn these and somehow alter the afterlife of their ancestors.
Wikipedia explains some of the uses of these as the following:
“In some Chinese mythology, Hell Bank Notes are sent by living relatives to dead ancestors as a tribute to the King Yanluo for a shorter stay or to escape punishment, or for the ancestors to use themselves in spending on lavish items in the afterlife.” Source
How sad is it to think of those trying to change ones afterlife based on burning paper. When one dies he passes from life to eternity and his eternity is set. It is heartbreaking to realize that most that were represented there were more than likely in hell. Why? Because they have not Christ. A hell bank note can’t take the place of the work of Christ. It is zeal without knowledge, desire without truth. Though we were encourage to see some graves that had a cross engraved in them, so maybe this represents there was a few who had Christ.