Buddhism in the light of the cross

I’Ching Chan-Thomas shares her story of how the love of Jesus broke through traditions and cultural barriers in her family. Currently, I’Ching oversees the global resourcing division of OM internationally. She is married and has a teenage son.

Born and raised in Malaysia, personal choice of religion and conversion never crossed I’Ching’s mind. “We follow the religion of our parents out of tradition … Christianity is typically seen as a foreign religion, and Christians are those who have had a Western influence in their life – like having studied in the West,” shared I’Ching.

She grew up as a Taoist-Buddhist, following her parents to temples and performing certain rituals, ignorant of their significance. It wasn’t until she became a Christian that she learned more about this belief system, with more than one billion followers worldwide. “I discovered that Buddhism is not merely a belief system or a religion but a worldview that has cultural and social implications,” she said.

In most Buddhist societies, folk and animistic beliefs are held alongside Buddha’s teachings. This was evident in I’Ching’s family. “We would typically label ourselves as Buddhists, but in practice, we were much more than that, she said. “In addition to fulfilling our duties at the Buddhist temple, we would also revere various gods that bear little resemblance to Buddha.”

God’s love breaks through

In I’Ching’s family, traditions and cultural barriers could not keep the love of Jesus from breaking through – beginning with her mother’s brother.

“This was a journey that spanned over decades for us, and we are thankful to God for responding to our cries for purpose.”

Now, most of her mother’s family are followers of Jesus. “This was a journey that spanned over decades for us, and we are thankful to God for responding to our cries for purpose,” she said.

Today, various forms of Buddhism are seeing a resurgence, and unprecedented growth is being witnessed even in the West. I’Ching believes that many people from Buddhist backgrounds seek life’s meaning and purpose. “So pray that God, in His mercy, love and power, will break through entrenched cultural barriers to welcome them into His Kingdom. And to go where our Buddhist neighbours are to witness the love of Christ to them.”

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