FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – During the Thailand study abroad mission trip, May 28 – June 13, Southwestern students welcomed a new brother in Christ and remembered to be faithful despite discouragement.
Spending most of their time in class or on their feet in malls, markets and temples, students sought to start conversations with people who had time to answer their questions.
Anthony Shelton met a Buddhist monk named Jo Lee, who has had the Gospel preached to him by local Christians for the past 15 years. Often he would laugh in response to Shelton’s questions but because of prayer, Shelton said he was still able to share with him.
“Even knowing your call to share the Gospel, if you’re not praying for brokenness within the people,” explained Shelton, “(when) you go talk to that one person who’s rejected you the last 15 times, it’s going to be easy the next time to just pass by on the conversation and not even worry about it.”
Niran* (*name changed), a young monk in Jo Lee’s monastery, was very open to talking to Adam Southerland about Jesus due to a friendship with one of the local missionaries. Niran was eager to know what ‘absolute truth’ was, so Southerland and the other Christians encouraged Niran to go home that evening and ask God to show him if Jesus or Buddha was true.
Southerland called Niran the next week, and the monk said “God had given [him] a ‘peace of mind.’” Southerland said this news initially discouraged him, but the missionary encouraged Southerland to follow up with Niran due to the way he sounded on the phone.
Niran had encountered Christ during his evening devotions that night. He made a profession of faith with Southerland the next day when they met together in the temple, and Southerland taught from Scripture what it meant to be a Christian.
“As a Buddhist, I believed that I had to do enough good karma to make up for my bad karma, and I was trying to reach this state of peace,” Niran told Southerland. “I never knew what would happen to me after I die, but now that I believe in Jesus Christ and what He did for me—that it doesn’t matter that I’m not perfect, that He loves me anyway, and that He died on the cross for my sins and that when I die—I know I’m going to go to heaven.”