I Know You Want Me to Believe You, Buddha Can’t

“Hello?”

No response.

“Hellooooo?”

My voice came back to me with a slight echo. Still, no response. I was definitely in the right place. The entire left side of the room was cluttered with golden statues, elaborate pictures, and bundles of incense.

Could it be that no one was there? I turned back around to make sure my eyes hadn’t deceived me. Sure enough, there was a pair of shoes laying close to mine just beyond the many pairs of slippers strewn about the porch.

I was actually a bit surprised there were slippers my size available – well, sort of. My size 12 feet aren’t exactly commonplace among Chinese people. I could make size 11 slippers work in a pinch such as this in China, and I knew I could make them work here.

Turning back around and sticking my head back through the door, I gave it one more try. “Hellooooo?”

Almost ready to leave, I noticed a sliding door to the right hand side of a back room slide open. A short, bald figure slowly emerged.

“Hello!” I repeated again, realizing this monk was a woman – NiGu, as they are called in China.

The NiGu inched closer and only mustered a smile.

“Hello,” I said yet again, this time extending my hand for a greeting.

“AMiTuoFo,” she said, slightly bowing with hands in a ‘praying’ position just below her face.

“I’m sorry, do you speak English?”

Silence.

Switching to Chinese, “Do you speak Chinese?”

“Yes, I speak Mandarin,” was the reply as she motioned for me to sit at a table over in the corner.

Sitting down, I explained that I am a Christian and was looking for a place to bring some Christian students to learn basic information about Buddhism.

“Oh, you are a Christian?”

“Yes.”

“All religions are very good, aren’t they?” she asked, trying to politely indicate that she didn’t mind my being there.

Wishing to return the gesture but not agree with the statement, I replied, “Well, all religions teach us to do good, but Jesus actually said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that the only way to God is through Him.”

Taken a bit aback, the NiGu chuckled slightly, not knowing what to say.

“You have heard of Jesus Christ before, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I know of Him. Many years ago, two other Chinese speaking Americans came here and showed me a Bible. They kept wanting me to read different parts, but after about fifteen minutes, they said something came up and left in a hurry.”

“Really?”

“They said they would come back, but never did.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Five or six years ago.”

“Oh, wow.”

A story like that might be more passable in China. Maybe the Americans ended up having to leave the country. The problem was, we weren’t in China. We were in the heart of Atlanta.

“How long have you been in America?” I asked.

“Since 2005.”

Wow, I thought. She has lived in Atlanta for 13 years and has only encountered the gospel once. Unbelievable!

While that was sinking in, she decided to change the subject. “Buddhism is a very comprehensive religion. Yes, we worship buddhas,” she continued, glancing just over my shoulder at the large golden buddhas lining the wall behind me. “but we also practice meditation to get out of reincarnation. Life is tiring. Reincarnation and living in this world over and over again are tiring. But if we work at it, we can break the cycle. We can become buddhas.”

I sat silently trying to process. During all of my few years in China, I rarely encountered pious Buddhists and never really had many in-depth discussions with them. This was essentially new territory for me – especially for my Chinese vocabulary.

The NiGu continued. “That’s very different from Christianity, isn’t it?”

“Yes, you are saying Buddhism says we can become a buddha. The Bible says that God became a man. He became like us and dwelt among us. The Bible calls this incarnation.”

Since the Chinese word for incarnation can be literally translated into English as “Way Become Body of Flesh”, I was careful to spell that out and connect it back to what I had mentioned previously about Jesus calling Himself the Way.

“Once incarnated, He lived among us, died upon a cross for us, was buried, and rose again.”

Now it was her turn to try and process, but she didn’t. To change the subject, she instead took a long, slender book from the shelf behind her and began explaining that this particular “scripture” was about reincarnation. Then switching it out for another, she explained that this one detailed how to meditate.

Looking up, it dawned on me that the stacks upon stacks of books behind her must all be Buddhist ‘scriptures’. “That’s a lot of books!”

“Yes, I told you Buddhism is very comprehensive.”

I looked around the ‘temple’. Though it wasn’t a proper temple in that the exterior looked more or less like a typical American house, the inside was a different story. Statues of Buddha at one end complete with bundles of incense filled out about a third of the room. Then here on our end was ‘scripture’ after ‘scripture’ about gaining wealth and wisdom on the way to achieving nirvana. 

Here is this NiGu – in the middle of Atlanta, in the middle of the American South, in the middle of the Bible belt, and yet she has lived these thirteen years in almost complete isolation of that Bible.

“You said you were wanting to bring a group of students here?” She interrupted my train of thought.

“Yes, we are planning to…”

I began to explain that we at my church are holding an event toward the end of the month during where will host Christian students that are interested in learning more about serving God. I further explained that we would be taking them to various religious sites so that they can understand a bit about what many people around the world believe.

Expressing that she would welcome us if we wanted to bring the group by, she gave me her ‘business’ card and thanked me for stopping by.

“AMiTuoFo!” she said again assuming the previous ‘praying’ position with her hands.

“Goodbye, and thank you!”

Stepping out of the makeshift ‘temple’, I put my shoes back on and made my way back to my car. There is another temple on the East side of Atlanta that is more of the Southeast Asian variety, and I wanted to see if that might be an option for the camp as well…

**********

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 NiGu described above? Would you please pray for her 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.

Why the OGTC?

As I shared last week, the Our Generation Training Center (OGTC), a hub of missionary training located in Alpharetta, GA, is currently praying that the Lord would give $180,000 for new housing for future missionaries (missionaries in training). You can learn more and discover how you can be a part at this linkThe following article, which details the OGTC’s impact in my own life, is adapted from an article that I originally wrote for www.ogtc.info in June of last year. To read the original article, click here.

Studying at the Our Generation Training Center (OGTC) is important because pre-field training is vital before arriving overseas. Take it from me, someone who tried missions without any practical training for overseas ministry.

The Lord saved me when I was twelve years old and called me to missions when I was sixteen. After high school, I attended a Baptist university where I learned much about the Bible and theology. During that time I took a couple of short-term trips to China and felt the Lord directing me to devote my life to serving Him in that country.

Every missionary to China that I met in China or here in the States informed me that China was a closed country which meant that missionaries had to teach English or take up some other occupation while in the country and do evangelism on the side. This was a problem for me because I knew the Lord wanted me to preach. Not knowing what else to do, one year after I graduated from college I accepted a job offer at an English school in southeast China and went hoping that while teaching English I could learn the language and “figure out preaching” after that.

I arrived in China in December of 2010 and was immediately immersed in the language and culture. On the one hand, I was enjoying the new friends and experiences, but on the other hand, I had no clue how to be a missionary. During my five year stay, I learned the language, involved myself in a national church, participated in outreach, and was given two opportunities to preach in Chinese. While those were some of the most exciting times in my life, they were also some of the most discouraging.

You see, my job as an English teacher severely limited my availability to involve myself in the ministries of the church. I often was scheduled to teach on weekends, cutting into opportunities to involve myself in Bible studies and discipleship. What’s more, the national pastors advised that I not preach before the whole church and asked me to only preach in small Bible study settings. I wanted to start my own Bible study under the supervision of the church leadership, but I had no clue how to go about getting the word out, finding a meeting place, or discipling new converts.  On top of all this, I didn’t have the financial means to do the ministry I wanted, nor did I have the guidance to know how to realize it.

I remember there were nights when I would stand on the roof of my eighth-floor apartment, looking out over the city and begging God to give me a way to preach full-time in China. I remember asking the Lord why He would bring me to the other side of the world and give me so much success in the language and culture, only to let me flounder due to lack of guidance.

Then one day my dad sent me a link online to the blog of a team of missionaries on the other end of China that were doing exactly what I wanted to do – preaching the gospel, planting churches, baptizing converts, and seeing the gospel advanced in a mighty way. “How do they do it? Where did they get their training? How do they fund their ministry?” were the thoughts I couldn’t get away from. After following their blogs for about a year, I couldn’t take it any longer. I just had to know. I reached out to them online, and one of them called me. He told me I didn’t have to teach English to survive in China. He told me I didn’t have to waste energy balancing my time between a secular job and ministry. He told me that I could evangelize, plant churches, disciple new converts, and preach — all full-time!

He told me about the OGTC, a training center that could provide me with the training and experience I need to do all that I wanted to do for the Lord in China and then some.

So in December of 2015, my wife and I moved back to the States to study at the training center, which is where we have been the last year and a half. I have received invaluable training here that I so desperately desired but had no access to while on the field. We are currently on track to start raising support in January of 2018 to return to China. I feel so much more confident now that we are properly prepared. The training center has given us the focus we need to succeed on the mission field.

So why study at the OGTC? Come study at the OGTC because there are so many factors that go into being a missionary, and the experienced staff at the training center have the know-how to make you a confident, effective missionary on the foreign field. Don’t be like me. I didn’t know. Take this once in a lifetime opportunity to get the training necessary to turn this world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Just as studying at the OGTC is a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive missionary training, giving in support of housing for OGTC students is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in world evangelism. Would you join us in praying that the Lord would raise these funds for the training center? Would you pray about how you can be a part?

Investing in Future Missionaries

As the world population continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the need for gospel-preaching, church-planting missionaries has never been greater! In order to effectively reach the growing world with the gospel, we need a growing army of missionaries who will take up their cross and follow after Christ unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Our Generation Training Center (OGTC) is a hub for missionary training located in Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. The OGTC has been a source of great blessing in the life of my family. Although I was not a part of the full 3-year program, I was involved in their internship program before becoming a missionary. The OGTC provided me with tools and know-how that will be invaluable to us on the mission field.

Currently at the training center, there are nearly 20 students training to be missionaries! The Lord is blessing, and the training center continues to grow as more and more young people surrender to God’s call to world evangelism. The OGTC is currently trying to raise $180,000 to purchase more housing for incoming students. My wife and I plan to contribute to this worthy cause and would like to encourage you to consider doing the same.

Would you please partner in praying for the Our Generation Training Center? Would you pray that they would be able to reach this financial goal to provide housing to future missionaries? Would you pray about whether the Lord would have you invest personally?

If you have any questions about the OGTC, please feel free to contact me. To learn more about the training center, please visit the OGTC website at www.ogtc.info. To donate, please visit ourgenerationministries.org.

A lost world is dying without the knowledge of God. Please join in praying for and investing in laborers to go into the harvest fields of this world!

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:36-38