“Please, come in!”
Stepping through the large, red doors, there it was. Staring me in the face. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Taking up the greater part of the building was a golden, two-story high, buddha idol surrounded by at least a hundred smaller buddha idols. Flanking the large, overbearing statue on either side were two tapestries, each with images of buddha embroidered into them.
“This is the buddha,” said the monk as he knelt on both knees just before the statue, made a praying motion with his hands, and bowed. “When we pray to buddha, we pray like this.”
Still kneeling, he looked back at me over his shoulder smiling and motioning for me to step closer, presumably to join him. “You can try.”
“I think I’ll just watch. Thank you,” I mustered, trying to take in the sheer size of the idol. I had seen pictures taken in southeast Asia before of buddha idols the size of stadiums, but seeing one even of this magnitude in person was shocking to say the least.
Again, this wasn’t southeast Asia. This was Atlanta! The monk explained that the idol was constructed 20 years ago and had been here ever since. Judging from its size compared to that of the doors, the only way for the idol to be inside was for it to be placed there first with the fours walls of the temple constructed around it.
“What are these?” I asked, pointing to the side wall. Lining the walls were bookshelves filled with volume upon volume of what appeared to be one series of books.
“These are buddhist scriptures,” replied the monk, rising from his kneeling position and moving toward them. “They are like the buddhist bible,” he punctuated with a smile.
“Oh, you know about the Bible?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Have you ever read it?”
The monk squinted his eyes with a look of hesitation. “Mmm…Yes, but I can’t understand it.”
“What do you mean?”
“It is a lot of stories. It is very different from the buddhist scriptures. Our scriptures tell us how to do some things. I don’t know how to say.” His English had reached a limit. Not knowing how to go on discussing the scriptures, he changed subjects. “This is were the head monk sleeps,” he said, pointing to a bed in the corner.
“I see. How long have you been in America?”
“Four years. One year in California and three years here.”
“Well, your English is very good!” I was trying to encourage him.
“Oh, no!” he replied with an embarrassed smile. “It is not so good.”
“How long have you been a monk?” I was trying to bring the conversation back around to spiritual things.
“Since I was seven. My parents brought me to the temple to be trained.”
Wow. Since he was just seven. This man, looking to be in his mid-twenties, had spent around twenty years of his life in the pagan idolatry that is Buddhism. He was raised this way. He was honoring his parents’ wishes. He was being a good son. He was being a good religious leader.
Yet he was not on the road that leads to life.
We went on to discuss his time in America and previous encounters with Christians. He was friendly, but kept wanting to dodge discussion of the Bible and Jesus. Finally, I got some information from him about what it would take for us to arrange for some students to come by and learn about Buddhism.
Saying our good-byes, I made my way back to my car. Pulling out onto the main road, I couldn’t help but think of the multiplied thousands of others in his same predicament. I couldn’t help but think of the countless myriads of other monks throughout China, Thailand, Laos, and other nations that have given their lives to a lie – who are religious but lost.
From Monday, July 30th, through Friday, August 3rd, the Our Generation Training Center will be hosting the Our Generation Student Leadership Camp. The camp is designed to allow interested students 18 and older to meet with missionaries and learn about how to get involved in world evangelism. One aspect of the camp is to travel to various religious sites (temples, mosques, etc.) around the metro Atlanta area to get a glimpse of how many people around the world live their lives in ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Would you please pray for the monk mentioned above? Would you please pray for him and the thousands upon thousands of other Buddhist monks around the world that have yet to believe the gospel?
Would you please pray for the Our Generation Leadership Camp? Would you please pray that the Lord would use it in the lives of young people to stir their hearts toward world evangelism?
Would you please consider being a part of the camp? If you are at least eighteen years old and are curious about how you can be involved in getting the gospel around the world, then this camp is for you! For more information and a place to sign up, please check out OGSLC.com.