Removing Buddhist Traditions to Pursue Jesus

  11.09.2010   SE Asia | Native Missions | Buddhism
Native Missions - Asia
Buddhist home shrine

Since it was brought to Myanmar almost two thousand years ago, Buddhism has weaved itself into virtually every aspect of Burmese culture. So much so, that it is nearly impossible to travel a single day in Myanmar without seeing a single Buddhist temple or monastery that towers above the landscape. Another prominent manifestation of Buddhism among the people of Myanmar are the small shrines which they erect in homes to honor and praise the family Buddha and enlightened beings called ‘bodhisattvas’.

Such shrines serve a very important role in the daily life of a Buddhist. It is believed that any worship or offerings made before the shrine will result in the household being blessed with abundant health, financial prosperity, and protection from evil.

Until recently, such a shrine was in the house of the Daw Cho Than family. Just a few weeks ago, a couple of missionaries were going door to door in their small village, asking people if they would spare a few minutes to hear the good news of a merciful and loving God. Most of the time they were treated rudely and with great contempt. However, the Daw Cho Than family were different. They had invited the missionaries into their home and took the time to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Intrigued by the “unusual message of love, grace, and mercy,” the family invited the missionaries to come back again so they could continue to learn more about. Over the next few visits, the entire family became so engrossed with Jesus and his teachings that they expressed their desire to put Jesus at the center of their lives. However, there was  large obstacle for them to overcome.

As most believers know, once someone decides to live and walk as Jesus did, they discover that their way of life and some of their old habits are in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ. The Daw Cho Than had such a revelation. They had come to realize that the Buddhist shrine that was in their family for generations was an idol to a false god. It had to go! Unfortunately, letting go of the shrine would prove to be much harder than they had initially assumed.

Initially, the family was reluctant to remove or dismantle the shrine for fear that doing so would allow evil to invade their home and affect their lives. Their friends and neighbors did nothing to dispel this myth but reinforced it saying that “terrible and horrific times would come to the family, including death.”

family remove buddhist shrine
The Daw Cho family making a decision to remove the family buddhist shrine.

Seeing how such a belief was part of their family and identity since birth, the missionaries took time to carefully address this false idol problem. Lala, one of the missionaries, told the family that what they were hearing from the neighbors were lies and that no evil would triumph over their lives. Instead blessing from the true God would rain down upon them as they had never experienced before and angels would be dispatched to protect their family – if they would remove the shrine.

Deciding to prove his claim, Lala told the family that he would personally remove the shrine and that he would declare it to the spirit world that he would accept all responsibility for removing it. The family reasoned that if any evil would come, it would come upon the person who removed the items. With hesitancy, they gave their permission to Lala to remove the shrine and anxiously waited to see what would become of Lala. Inwardly they were cheering for Lala, however they did not dare express this thought for fear that the spirits would learn of their secret allegiance and punish them for it.

As each day passed their faith grew and the family grew more optimistic as they saw Lala was safe, healthy, and joyful. Finally the day came when the entire family gave themselves fully to God by rejecting all of their Buddhist traditions and teachings.

The Daw Cho Than family has became the first family in their to repent of their sins, accept Jesus as their Lord, and get baptized. Today, you will find the entire family proudly sharing their faith day after day, even after they have been warned that persecution is just around the corner. Each Sunday, they awake before dawn to pray, and then walk several miles to get to church.

Please be praying for this brave family. Pray specifically for courage to withstand the persecution which has started since this letter was first sent to us by our regional field manager. Pray that their faith will deepen as they continue to diligently seek the God’s will in all they do. Lastly, pray for them to be faithful in abiding in Christ so they may be fruitful in bringing others into a life transforming relationship with God.

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