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Dinner With a Buddhist
by Keith Tooley, On Mission Pastor on July 13th, 2012

While we were in Taipei, Taiwan two weeks ago, one of the female missionaries there asked if I would meet with a Taiwanese businessman, about my age, with whom she had shared the gospel in the past, but did not know where he stood spiritually at this point. I agreed to meet with him alone, since she explained that he spoke English well and I knew we would be able to communicate.

We met at my hotel and walked to one of his favorite eateries. I offered to treat him to dinner, and I asked him to order for me - feeling adventurous to try whatever he suggested. I was given a big bowl with a lot of interesting things floating around in it. I was glad I left the ordering to him. It was good!

We talked about his business, his family and life in general. We agreed that life is hard. We also agreed that there are many big questions that need to be answered, such as: Why are we here? Do we have a purpose? Is there a God? And is it possible to reach a state of peace in this life? That was just for starters. When we finished dinner, he suggested that we continue our conversation at a quieter place, so we walked down the street to a Starbucks.

After talking for a while, he seemed to agree that it made the most sense for there to be only one god, not many gods, if there were a god. Then I saw an opportunity to share the gospel. As I was explaining the gospel, he started talking about what he believes as a Buddhist, which I found very interesting. How many people get to hear how one achieves the four stages of enlightenment? I prayed that Jesus would provide a transition back to the gospel. And He did.

Following his explanation of the Buddhist readings and how to reach a state of peace (nothingness), it was obvious – by the steps and the required action on his part - that his beliefs were all works-based. And through these works, he had not achieved inner peace. Reaching a state of peace was about doing – his doing and good behavior - and his striving to reach the next state of enlightenment. This opened the door for me to explain that in Christianity, there is no “doing.” It is “done.” Jesus Christ took care of that for us. So we spent quite a while talking about grace – God’s love and favor toward us, even though we don’t deserve it because of our sin. I explained that he can have peace in this life, but that it comes through having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

He had many good questions. I prayed silently and I did my best to answer. “In Christianity, why is God three things? How can we get rid of sin, or at least reach a state of peace with it?” 
Then he surprised me. “How have you experienced this?” He was asking to hear my personal testimony, which I got to share. Then he asked, “How do you do it?” And I got to explain how he would go about entering into a relationship with Jesus.

I would love to tell you that he then prayed and became a believer, but he didn’t. He was thankful for our talk, and that I attempted to answer his questions. He has a Bible that the missionary there gave him, so I suggested that he read a chapter of the book of John each day, and that he simply ask God that if what he reads is true, that God will convict him of it. He asked for my email address. And that was that. I have not heard from him since.

I had enjoyed a great evening with someone who lives on the other side of the world, in a different culture, with different beliefs, who graciously treated me to a meal and great conversation. We were both open and willing to listen to one another and to try to understand one another. It was evident that God had planned this amazing evening. I trust that He will use it for His purposes in both my life as well as that of my new friend.

I had a dream a couple of nights ago. In the dream, I was in an airport, and a stranger with a smile walked up to me and told me that the man I had dinner with in Taipei had received Jesus. He excitedly told me that he was saved. I hope and pray that my dream comes true. Would you join me in that prayer?

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Tricia - July 20th, 2012 at 7:20 PM
Thanks for sharing this. I have neighbors that I adopted as my parents. we are very close. They are japanese and buddhists. And are the most Christian-like people I have ever met. They are in their eighties now and I really need to find a way to share Jesus with them.
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