Friday, was a beautiful spring day, and I was having a great time at work at the insurance office getting excited about our weekend outreaches. I was informed around 10 AM that there was a man sitting on the curb outside of our workplace by one of the women that work next door at the hair solon. She told me that he was “perverted” and gave some of the hairstylist the “Creeps”. She wanted me to go and see if I could get him to move along.
I stepped outside and as I approached realizing he was the elderly man, I warmly greeted him and asked if he was OK and if he needed anything? He said “Well, I am not having a good day! And you’re the only one who gave a flying $@/!$@!! About me! He then told me of his rotten day having his vehicle break down on him. He told me he only lived about 3 miles away and needed to get to the gas station. I offered a ride or to call a wrecker but he said he would just walk.
So I kindly put out my hand to help him up and was on his way.
As he stepped away I begin to just pray in my mind that I would have another opportunity to speak with him and hopefully share the gospel. I went back in and got strait back to work. About 45 minutes later, wouldn’t ya know it! He comes in my office to take me up on my offer to call a tow truck for him. One prayer God does not mind answering is a prayer in accordance with HIS will! (Mark 16:15) When a believer desires to witness that is God’s will. It is directly in line with His word.
I called the closest wrecker service and got them set up to come. As it turns out and how God would have it, this man, I will just call Mr. P needed a ride home. As he got into my truck I recognized the great opportunity the LORD gave me and wanted to be faithful to share the gospel.
I didn’t want the conversation to seem forced or like a slick sells pitch, so in conversation I made a smooth swing from the natural to the spiritual. Simply asking him “Do you attend a local church in this area?” He laughed cynically, and said NO! I am a practicing Buddhist for the last 40 years!
Let me say at hearing that I was a bit excited and looked forward to the rest of the conversation. What an interesting position God had put me in. I have witnessed to several different sects of Buddhist. So digging for some more information I wanted to see if - #1. If he believed he would be reincarnated after death? #2. If he believed there was a God or that the “Universe” is god. #3. If he had ever heard/considered the gospel.
It was time for a little investigation to see how I need to proceed and sharing the gospel with him.
After the first question he said “Yes! I do believe I will be reincarnated.”
So I asked the question... Who is in charge of passing out these souls? Like who or what makes the decision on what plight or reward you will have in the next life you will have?”
He thought for a minute and said just what I thought he would. “The Universe”
(Side note: Would that not imply that the universe would be god?) So I simply asked “Is the universe intelligent? (Getting into some apologetics.) This makes for much more of an interesting conversation. He said No! and then quickly recanted. After a quick awkward moment of silence he then said No again. It was painfully obvious at that point I had pierced a pretty large hole in his erroneous worldview.
Then I began to redirect the conversation towards creation. Appealing more towards the intellect I began talking about DNA- Specified information within the cell that tells your genes how to make an eye, and what color it will be, everything about him and every living thing on the earth.
127,000,000 light sensitive cell within just one of his eyes.
I just simply asked “Did that come from nothing or something? He said nothing...
So all I simply asked is if that makes sense to him?
He changed the subject quickly.
Moving towards the conscience, where I knew that battle would be won. I asked if he ever considered or heard the gospel. He said that he had and then begin to give me a well thought out stack of complains against Christians.... mostly speaking of hypocrisy within the church and such. He was also full of skepticism towards the Bible.
As we were getting close to his house I slowed down even more to try and have as much time as possible. The conversation was moving rather quickly and getting more interesting by the minute. I went in for the jugular! I asked him if he considered himself to be a good person, and if he thought he would be going to heaven if he was wrong and there was a God. He said YES!! Absolutely!! I am a very good person.
So I went through a few of God’s commandments Lying, Stealing, Lust (adultery of the heart) and blasphemy. He admitted to violating all of those laws. I asked if he stood before God would he be innocent or guilty? He said "I DON'T BELIEVE I WILL STAND BEFORE ANY GOD! So I asked if he was wrong would it concern him that if God gave him justice he would be headed for a place called HELL? Reminding him as well that just because you don't believe in something does not make it go away. He said he would be guilty, and he said that would concern him, If it were true!! So I reasoned with him further on the reality of Judgement and God's justice.
As I finally began to see outward sings of inward conviction/ contrition with the few moments I had left with him, I explained how he broke God’s Law and Jesus Christ took the punishment on himself. Shared Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 3:16-18, Romans 5:8 and shared how God commands everyone to repent and place the trust in a savior which He has mercifully provided.
As we arrived in his driveway I reached out to shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoyed getting to know him and having discussion. I asked if he would consider what I said and he said he would think about it further. However when I offered him a little booklet on the difference between Buddhism and Christianity. He refused it and said “Save it for someone else” I persisted, he finally took it. He said that he wsa not going to read it. So I told him "What ever you do DO NOT READ THAT BOOK!!" Let's pray the curiousity kills the cat!
I was confident from our interaction that I had effectively showed the love of Christ, met needs and befriended him. It was such a blessing to have the opportunity to share the gospel with him. Please join me in prayer for Mr. P. That God would draw him and grip his heart. That his conscience would not leave him alone till he finds forgiveness in Christ alone. I also pray for other opportunities to make an impact on him.
Look below for specific information on what to know and say when witnessing to a buddhist.
FOUNDER: Siddhartha Gautama, a prince from northern India near modern Nepal who lived about 563–483 B.C.
SCRIPTURES: Various, but the oldest and most authoritative are compiled in the Pali Canon.
ADHERENTS: 613 million worldwide; 1 million in the United States.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Buddhism is the belief system of those who follow the Buddha, the Enlightened One, a title given to its founder. The religion has evolved into three main schools:
1. Theravada or the Doctrine of the Elders (38%) is followed in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia (Kampuchea), and Vietnam.
2. Mahayana or the Greater Vehicle (56%) is strong in China, Korea, and Japan.
3. Vajrayana, also called Tantrism or Lamaism, (6%) is rooted in Tibet, Nepal, and Mongolia. Theravada is closest to the original doctrines. It does not treat the Buddha as deity and regards the faith as a worldview—not a type of worship. Mahayana has accommodated many different beliefs and worships the Buddha as a god. Vajrayana has added elements of shamanism and the occult and includes taboo breaking (intentional immorality) as a means of spiritual enlightenment.
GROWTH IN THE UNITED STATES: Buddhists regard the United States as a prime mission field, and the number of Buddhists in this country is growing rapidly due to surges in Asian immigration, endorsement by celebrities such as Tina Turner and Richard Gere, and positive exposure in major movies such as Siddhartha, The Little Buddha, and What’s Love Got to Do with It? Buddhism is closely related to the New Age Movement and may to some extent be driving it. Certainly Buddhist growth is benefiting from the influence of New Age thought on American life.
HISTORIC BACKGROUND: Buddhism was founded as a form of atheism that rejected more ancient beliefs in a permanent, personal, creator God (Ishvara) who controlled the eternal destiny of human souls. Siddhartha Gautama rejected more ancient theistic beliefs because of difficulty he had over reconciling the reality of suffering, judgment, and evil with the existence of a good and holy God.
CORE BELIEFS: Buddhism is an impersonal religion of self-perfection, the end of which is death (extinction)—not life. The essential elements of the Buddhist belief system are summarized in the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, and several additional key doctrines. The Four Noble Truths affirm that (1) life is full of suffering (dukkha); (2) suffering is caused by craving (samudaya); (3) suffering will cease only when craving ceases (nirodha); and (4) this can be achieved by following the Noble Eightfold Path consisting of right views, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation. Other key doctrines include belief that nothing in life is permanent (anicca), that individual selves do not truly exist (anatta), that all is determined by an impersonal law of moral causation (karma), that reincarnation is an endless cycle of continuous suffering, and that the goal of life is to break out of this cycle by finally extinguishing the flame of life and entering a permanent state of pure nonexistence (nirvana).
BRIDGES FOR EVANGELIZING BUDDHISTS The gospel can be appealing to Buddhists if witnessing focuses on areas of personal need where the Buddhist belief system is weak. Some major areas include:
Suffering: Buddhists are deeply concerned with overcoming suffering but must deny that suffering is real. Christ faced the reality of suffering and overcame it by solving the problem of sin, which is the real source of suffering. Now, those who trust in Christ can rise above suffering in this life because they have hope of a future life free of suffering. "We fix our eyes not on what is seen [suffering], but on what is unseen [eternal life free of suffering]. For what is seen [suffering] is temporary, but what is unseen [future good life with Christ] is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18, NIV).
Meaningful Self: Buddhists must work to convince themselves they have no personal signifi- cance, even though they live daily as though they do. Jesus taught that each person has real significance. Each person is made in God’s image with an immortal soul and an eternal destiny. Jesus demonstrated the value of people by loving us so much that He sacrificed His life in order to offer eternal future good life to anyone who trusts Him. "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8, NIV). Future Hope: The hope of nirvana is no hope at all—only death and extinction. The hope of those who put their trust in Christ is eternal good life in a "new heaven and new earth" in which God "will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things [suffering] has passed [will pass] away" (Rev. 21:4, NIV). Moral Law: Because karma, the Buddhist law of moral cause and effect, is completely rigid and impersonal, life for a Buddhist is very oppressive. Under karma, there can be no appeal, no mercy, and no escape except through unceasing effort at self- refection. Christians understand that the moral force governing the universe is a personal God who listens to those who pray, who has mercy on those who repent, and who with love personally controls for good the lives of those who follow Christ. "In all things God works for the good of those who love him" (Rom. 8:28, NIV). Merit: Buddhists constantly struggle to earn merit by doing good deeds, hoping to collect enough to break free from the life of suffering. They also believe saints can transfer surplus merit to the undeserving. Jesus taught no one can ever collect enough merit on his own to earn everlasting freedom from suffering. Instead, Jesus Christ, who has unlimited merit (righteousness) by virtue of His sinless life, meritorious death, and resurrection, now offers His unlimited merit as a free gift to anyone who will become His disciple. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8–9, NIV). Desire: Buddhists live a contradiction—they seek to overcome suffering by rooting out desire, but at the same time they cultivate desire for self- ontrol, meritorious life, and nirvana. Christians are consistent—we seek to reject evil desires and cultivate good desires according to the standard of Christ. "Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22, NIV).
JESUS AND THE EIGHTFOLD PATH Because Buddhists think a good life consists of following the Eightfold Path, the stages of the path can be used to introduce them to Christ as follows:
Right views: Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and there is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12). Right aspiration: Fights and quarrels come from selfish desires and wrong motives (Jas. 4:1–3); right desires and motives honor God (1 Cor. 10:31).
Right speech: A day of judgment is coming when God will hold men accountable for every careless word they have spoken (Matt. 12:36). Right conduct: The one who loves Jesus must obey Him (John 14:21), and those who live by God’s wisdom will produce good acts/fruit (Jas. 3:17).
Right livelihood: God will care for those who put Him first (Matt. 6:31,33), and all work must be done for God’s approval (2 Tim. 2:15). Right effort: Like runners in a race, followers of Christ must throw off every hindrance in order to give Him their best efforts (Heb. 12:1–2).
Right mindfulness: The sinful mind cannot submit to God’s law (Rom. 8:7), and disciples of Christ must orient their minds as He did (Phil. 2:5).
Right contemplation: The secret of true success, inner peace, self-control, and lasting salvation is submission to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and setting your heart and mind on things above where He now sits in glory waiting to bring the present order of sin and suffering to an end (Col. 3:1–4).
WHEN WITNESSING TO BUDDHISTS
1. Avoid terms such as "new birth," "rebirth," "regeneration," or "born again." Use alternatives such as "endless freedom from suffering, guilt, and sin," "new power for living a holy life," "promise of eternal good life without suffering," or "gift of unlimited merit."
2. Emphasize the uniqueness of Christ. 3. Focus on the gospel message and do not get distracted by details of Buddhist doctrine.
4. Understand Buddhist beliefs enough to discern weaknesses that can be used to make the gospel appealing (see "Bridges for Evangelizing Buddhists" and "Jesus and the Eightfold Path").
5. While using bridge concepts (see "Bridges for Evangelizing Buddhists"), be careful not to reduce Christian truth to a form of Buddhism. Buddhism has been good at accommodating other religions. Do not say "Buddhism is good, but Christianity is easier."
6. Share your own testimony, especially your freedom from guilt, assurance of heaven (no more pain), and personal relationship with Christ.
7. Prepare with prayer. Do not witness in your own strength.
Information from http://www.evidencebible.com/witnessingtool/buddhism.shtml