“Can God Love Us When We Are Buddhist?”
By Janna Cressman
Hot, sweaty, and tired, I had just finished a drama set at a University canteen and was walking over to start a conversation with two students who had been sitting and watching the entire performance. “Sawadee-ka, chan cheuh Janna ka,” I said as I introduced myself to the students. They responded by telling me their names, Toei and Miew. “Khaow jai mai se dang?” In my very poorly phrased Thai I asked them if they understood the performance they had just watched.
In perfectly clear English they responded by telling me they understood it was about Christianity. [I was relieved that I would be able to converse with them in English because all our translators were already engaged in conversations!] The next question they asked, which spurred us into a long conversation, “Why did you come all the way to Thailand to do these dramas?” opened the door for me to share the gospel with them. “I’ve come to Thailand to share with you about the God who has saved & transformed my life because of His love for me. The dramas are just one of the ways I can share that.” I went on to tell them that the same God who loves me also loves them and wants to transform their lives as well. Toei looked at me confused, and asked me a question I will never forget: “How can the Christian God love us when we are Buddhist?”
Praying very hard for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for the Lord’s words, I shared the Gospel with them to explain the kind of love God feels towards them, towards all people. They were shocked, amazed and in disbelief by the kind of love the “Christian God” [in their words] shows for people, for them. Miew said. Toei agreed with her and admitted how they live each day in constant fear & guilt. According to the Buddhist belief in Karma, one receives good [in this life and the next] when they do good and one receives bad [in this life and the next] when they do bad. Toei and Miew were mature and honest enough to admit that no matter how hard they try to be good and to do good they constantly fail and do bad. They told me how scary it is for them knowing they’ll have to ‘pay’ for all the bad things they have done. “We do our best not to think about this so we can try and enjoy our days,” they told me.
My heart was [and still is] breaking for them. I brought the conversation back to the cross, explaining that they didn’t have to live in fear and guilt because someone else, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, had already paid for the wrong things they have done and will continue to do in their life. “That’s how much God loves you!” I exclaimed, “He is waiting for you to have faith and believe this!”
Toei & Miew could not comprehend this – this did not make sense to them because it is the complete opposite of all they know. This conversation reminded me of how upside down and backwards the Gospel message is! The Gospel doesn’t make logical sense and it is only God who can bring understanding to us. It is only God who can change our hearts so that we believe in this upside-down Truth. This is what I am praying for Toei and Miew. They did not accept Christ that day but they are hungry to know more. Pray that as they connect with the Campus Ministry Staff and me that God will change their hearts and show them how much he loves them, no matter who they are or what they believe.
Janna has been serving in Thailand since May 2011. Please pray for Thailand as their own local DRIME ministry launches in December.