If we were to believe everything Hollywood has to say about Buddhism, we could be excused for thinking it was a religion epitomising peace and tranquillity. Surrounded by lush gardens in idyllic settings, people practising Buddhism are depicted as having achieved a more enlightened, less burdened way of life. But that is very different to […]
If we were to believe everything Hollywood has to say about Buddhism, we could be excused for thinking it was a religion epitomising peace and tranquillity. Surrounded by lush gardens in idyllic settings, people practising Buddhism are depicted as having achieved a more enlightened, less burdened way of life.
But that is very different to the stories members of the LCA International Mission team often hear.
On a recent visit to Phum Kruos in Cambodia I met an elderly lady who had lived as a devout Buddhist, desperate to achieve the Buddhist equivalent of salvation. Yet her description of life was one of fear, uncertainty and the need to perform never-ending acts of devotion in order to prove her worthiness.
The Buddhism she described was worlds apart from the one spruiked by the likes of actor Richard Gere and depicted by the Dalai Lama’s words. Her description of the fear she lived with as a Buddhist revealed a devout woman, longing to be at peace with God but also aware of her own sinfulness and need for redemption.
What a contrast it was to hear her speak of her new-found faith in Jesus and of the peace she now knew because her sins were forgiven. She spoke of the freedom she had to smile, dance and express the happiness in her heart without fear of upsetting a fearsome deity. And as she spoke, her aging face shone with the inexpressible joy she now knows because she trusts Jesus and his promises of forgiveness, life and salvation.
Listening to this dear sister in the Lord reminded me that there are essentially two religions. One, which comes under many names, declares what you must do to be saved. Christianity declares that in Jesus everything is done and salvation is yours by faith. Sitting under her house on that hot Cambodian day, it was clear that this lady understood that difference better than most.
Ironically, her life is now filled with the peace and joy that westerners often claim Buddhism offers. No more spirits harassing her in the long hours of night, causing doubt and despair. No more power in the judgemental looks of fellow Buddhists who considered it inappropriate for a widow to ever be happy. No more uncertainty in this life or the next, all because she now knows that Jesus himself said, ‘It is finished!’
This story was also published in the August 2019 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner church in Cambodia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/cambodia/