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Preteens Bring the Gospel to Buddhists — April 25th

by Gabriel Verrone, Preteen Director

How do you share the good news of Jesus with people who have a wildly different worldview?  How do you impress upon them the reality of Hebrews 9:27 that "...each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,"  when they believe they are stuck in a virtually endless cycle of reincarnation?  On the weekend of April 21st, eleven students and five adults from Southcliff went on an impactful mission trip to Murphy, Texas to find answers to these very questions.  The Uplink preteen ministry partnered with Redeemer Vietnamese Baptist Church and Brent Sorrels of Pan Asian Outreach for a cross-cultural experience to learn how to make the Gospel relevant to individuals of the Buddhist faith.  Brent taught us about Buddhism and its main tenants, we sampled authentic Vietnamese cuisine at a nearby restuarant and went prayer walking at a local Buddhist temple.  

It was at the Buddhist temple that most of the students were truly impacted the most.  We removed our shoes and placed them on a rack just outside the entrance to the temple.  As we stepped upon the plush carpet we were greeted by a rectangular altar adorned with mutlple statues of Buddha and other important Buddhist religious icons as well as pictures of the deceased family members of various temple worshippers.  These pictures were surrounded by offering of food and drink as living relatives sought to care for the spirits of their departed loved ones.  The stark reality of the lostness of so many souls became even more pronounced as we entered the Tower of Ancestor Worship.  Across from the main temple building was a pagoda standing between two and three stories tall with ornate dragons perched atop the curved roof to ward off evil spirits.  As we entered, soft, calming music mixed with the sickly-sweet smell of burning incense.  Students and adults alike looked up to see the walls covered with hundred upon hundreds of pictures of people's deceased relatives and friends and countless offerings to these lost souls.  The saddest display was the one made up of tiny pictures of deceased infants with dozens of baby bottles in front of it.  As Daniel, one of the 5th grade students, said later that night, "It's really sad to think about all of those people going into eternity without knowing Jesus." 

The weekend did not, however, end on this sad note.  We partnered with Brent to canvass and invite local Vietnamese families to an outreach event at Murphy Road Baptist Church.  There, the families that accepted our invitation heard the testimony of a church planter named Dan.  Dan is a Vietnamese refugee who converted from Buddhism when he heard the Good News about Jesus, a friend and savior who would "never leave him or forsake him!"  As a young man from another culture and a different faith, he told the audience how he longed for a friend like that and now seeks to introduce everyone he can to that same friend.  On Sunday morning, April 22nd, we worshipped with the believers from Redeemer Baptist Church, many of whom also came from a Buddhist background.  We were reminded that the gospel is for "every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages (Revelation 7:9)," and that as believers,  we are Christ's ambassadors.  2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that, "God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!' "  Just as the students were emboldened to share their faith with people of all backgrounds and beliefs, we should all be reminded that our daily lives are full of lost souls waiting to hear about a savior who will never leave them, forsake them and wants to give them an eternal hope and home.