A Buddhist Monk Discovers Jesus

Welcome to Ron’s Adventures,” the podcast that highlights the lighter side of international travel, more specifically the adventures that Ron Pearce has experienced in his 30-plus years of ministry. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce. Hey guys, and welcome back.

Ron- It’s good to be back one more time. Today we are going to be going to Burma or called Myanmar. We’re going to go back into the late 1990s or early 2000s, somewhere around there, when I was in Rangoon or Yangon as it’s called and I was visiting with a group of evangelical pastors, and when I say that, this was at a gentleman’s house and there must have been about 20 pastors. And these are leaders of various denominations, evangelists, key leaders in the country in the national church. So we were all sitting around there and talking about helping them with various things, Bibles and training, and all sorts of other discussion points. So we were sitting around talking and all of a sudden there was both a knock at the door and a commotion outside in the next room and then a lot of people talking in the Burmese language. Then all these gentlemen, all the leaders, got up, stood up on their feet, big smiles on their faces, and this gentleman walks in the room who’s got a taller gentleman with long robes on, a white sort of outfit. He had a bit of an entourage behind him, two or three other men. They came in and they started shaking hands with all the leaders and it seemed like all the leaders were so excited and happy to see him. They go and meet everybody and then he comes over to meet me and I’m introduced to him. I had no idea who he was. Then the leader of the whole operation, the gentleman we work with in country, says, I’d like you to meet this brother who used to be one of the leading Buddhist monks in all of Burma for many, many years who has now accepted the Lord.” In fact, quite a few years ago he accepted the Lord. He said, He has come here today because he would like to meet you and we are asking him to share his testimony.” So I was honored that this fellow was there and he came over to see us. He sat down right beside me and the translator was there, as well. He starts to give me the testimony, and I’ll keep this brief. So, if he wasn’t the top one, he was next to the top leader of all Buddhism in the country. He came to know the Lord by reading his Bible. He found a copy of it and read the Word of God and it basically jumped off the page at him and the needs in his life and the deficiencies he found in Buddhism, and he accepted the Lord. After he had finished his testimony etcetera, I was sitting there with him and everybody else was getting up and having tea or coffee, and he and I and the translator were just sitting together and I asked him, What was it about the Word of God that really moved you to accept Jesus. What was it? There must have been something that pushed you over the edge.” And he said, I want you to look at my Bible,” and he took out his Bible and he opened it and I still remember him turning page after page. And he said, These were the promises of God that I was reading,” and in his Bible he had taken a red pen and circled all the Bible promises in the Bible. Page after page after page. Then he gave me his Bible and I was just turning, it was all the way from Genesis to Revelation, circle after circle after circle. I said, So you circled all the promises of God?” He said, Yes.” This is the most exciting part; he said a Buddhist monk is always looking for a way to meet a god who fulfilled the promises that he gave. He said, God made all these promises and Jesus fulfilled them.” He said, I was reading all these things and they just cut to the heart and soul of my being,” and all the questions he had lived with for so many years within Buddhism were all coming out and being answered by these promises that he read in the Bible. This is what all Buddhist monks want to have. They want to see that God has actually fulfilled His promises and that we can read these promises and that we can find Him. He said he would go into caves and he would be sitting in caves all by himself. Sometimes he would punch himself and beat himself trying to get God’s attention and be noticed but he said all that was in that cave was absolute nothingness and darkness. And he said I would sit in there for day upon day upon day just trying to find God. Then he said, When I opened the Bible I knew this was the book that answered all my prayers you might say. I no longer had to hit myself, I no longer had to go into a cave. Every day, I would just open the Bible and read another promise from God.” That was probably one of the most incredible moments of my life in the fact that here is a man who knew darkness, who knew hopelessness, he was not finding the answers to life. He was high up in a religion that promised these answers but never delivered. And all of a sudden he just found a Bible. A plain, shall I say ordinary Bible, read it, and out of that God spoke to him and he circled all, for him, the important parts. That was very, very exciting to see this brother. I will probably never see him now until we get together in heaven but I’m looking forward to it simply because that day he taught me something. He taught me the power of God’s Word to break through the darkness. And you don’t have to have an evangelist come in sometimes and tell you what the Word says, the Word can explain itself. That was a very important day for me.


a Buddhist monk is always looking for a way to meet a god who fulfilled the promises that he gave

Joy- When he picked up this Bible, I wonder if he was expecting something to happen.

Ron- He may have said something along that line but it’s not in my memory right now and it didn’t jump off the page. What he was trying to get to more than anything else, I do remember this, is the fact that he said the Bible did this by itself. God speaking to me through His Word. He said my heart just sort of leapt in front of me when he read it. So that is all I can honestly remember at this point in time. The smile on his face I will always remember, I’ll always remember his white gowns as he came in. He had great stature, he had great respect from everybody else around. I found out afterwards, that he was an example to other Buddhist monks. They would all talk about this brother and say he was one of the first at such a high level to put their faith in Jesus. I knew that the hierarchy of the Buddhist religion within Burma were very angry at him and I heard years later how they made life miserable for him. But it didn’t matter, he had circled in his Bible all the promises of God.

Charis- It reminds me of the one temple, there was one Buddhist monk who was sitting in the sun, staring at the sun searching. This monk had found the answer.

Ron- Do you remember, Charis, when I came home from that one trip. This was the best picture I had ever taken with my camera.

Charis- It was an amazing picture.

Ron- Oh it was. It was this Buddhist monk who was kneeling in Shwedagon Temple. This was the shrine you might say, the number one temple in all of Burma for the Buddhists. Gold was everywhere, gold Buddhas and everything. It was very, very hot there, I mean extremely hot and there were two colored rocks that you could walk on because you couldn’t wear shoes in the temple, you had to go in bare feet. And so I remember when the sun beat down on it the black stones were just like red hot coals, the white stones reflected and you could walk on those, so I was hopping around from white stone to white stone. I came upon this man, he was kneeling down and sort of sitting back on his knees and he was looking into the sun and he had done this, I was told later, for years and years and years, look right into the sun trying to find God and over the years he had gone totally blind. And I don’t know how he could do this, he had this very thick crimson red robe on, wrapped all around him, all onto the ground like a tent around him and he had it wrapped around his neck. All that was showing was his head and this robe all around the ground. He was just looking up into the sun, trying to find God. Charis, that was exactly right. This was a fellow who didn’t find God. But the brother I met in white robes, he was the one who found the Lord through the Bible. Two different stories, two different directions in life. I remember looking at this fellow in the temple after I had taken the picture, and I looked at him and thought, you are blind but you aren’t blind because of the sun in the sky, you are blind because you haven’t found the answer yet and he’s still lost.

Charis- I remember you went back a couple of years later and he was still there.

Ron- I know, he was there, the same man, the same spot, still searching. I don’t know what’s happened to him now. I went back a few years ago and I never saw him again. I am praying that somebody got through to him about the Gospel before, maybe he’s dead now, I’m not even sure. One thing is for sure, the positive news, there are a lot of Buddhist monks in Burma today that are accepting Jesus, that are finding the answers in the Word of God or another Buddhist monk is sharing the Gospel with them, that they had found the answer. I still remember, this was only about a year ago, I was interviewing this one Buddhist monk and I was taking about the fact that he can still go back into the monastery to witness, they haven’t taken his robes away and kicked him out of Buddhism yet even though he’s an outspoken Christian. He’s an evangelist now, he’s led hundreds and hundreds to the Lord. So I said, How do you do that?” He says, They let me come back in and I’ll bring my Bible with me and I sit up on this little wall in one of these monasteries.” In this monastery, there were 1,000 or 2,000 monks that live there and he said they would be sitting in the courtyard or playing cards or rolling dice, playing games things like that, and he would sit up on the wall. Then, he would start to read to them out of the Bible. He would just read and they would come over to him by the dozens or even hundreds, just wanting to hear the Word of God. He’d be reading away and it was all so exciting, these people were just sitting there just listening to the Word of God and trying to understand it. Then he says, I would close the book. Then I would wander off and pretend I was walking away and they would say, No stay, stay, don’t go away!’ So he would say, Well if you insist.’”

Joy- So a flair for the drama!

Ron- Oh, he dramatized it perfectly. So he would go and sit on the wall and leaf through it slowly and say, Oh maybe I’ll read a little bit here.” Then he would read from John’s Gospel or this Gospel or something like that. He would do that for 20 minutes. Then he would say, I’m just going to go sit under the tree over here and if anyone wants to come over and hear more what the Bible says, you come on over and we’ll talk.” Then he said, Dozens would come over and they would all sit around and they have questions.” He gives them the answers right out of the Word of God. He doesn’t give his opinions, he reads the Word of God to them and lets them make up their own mind. I think that’s the essence of what is going on in Burma with the Buddhist monks today. The Word of God is cutting through the darkness and these red circles that I will never forget, are jumping off the page. This is what is changing the world right now, is the Word of God.

Joy- And that is not a normal thing to have an ex-Buddhist monk come back in with Scripture. Why did they allow that to happen?

Ron- This is a good question, I don’t know.

Joy- And is it still happening?

Ron- It’s still happening, oh yeah. One day they are going to say no you can’t come back anymore because you’ve won too many to Jesus. But at the same time, they allow them to do this for a while. We call them Christian Buddhist monks. Not the fact that they have had a mixture between Buddhism and Christianity in their theology, no. They are strong believers. I interviewed this one guy that I was telling you about and his theology is right down the middle of the road. He knows the Word and he knows Jesus is the only answer to life’s problems, he’s got it all lined out, he’s perfect in that. But, he doesn’t take off his robes so that he can appear to be one of them so that he can talk to them. But on a theology angle, no, there’s no problem whatsoever.

He would just read and they would come over to him by the dozens or even hundreds, just wanting to hear the Word of God.

Joy- One final question. When a Buddhist monk decides to become a Christian, they walk away from the monastery it’s usually a final step away and they walk away with nothing?

Ron- They walk away with nothing and many times their families won’t even take them back afterwards because they have sort of disgraced their Buddhist family by walking away, because it’s a great honor that one of my children, or my uncle or something like that, is a Buddhist monk. You get more honor in the community. When you walk away from it, you walk away without any clothes, no way of making a living, no family to support you many times. Not always but many times.

Joy- So literally nothing, sometimes without any clothes or without any money.

Ron- Exactly, they have to count the cost when they accept the Lord as a Buddhist monk.

Joy- And I guess I have one last question. That man that you first talked about. Do you think he showed up just to meet you?

Ron- No, I think probably someone had invited him to come over and share his testimony because there was a stranger there. Not knowing it was me, I was nobody. It was just a matter that he came in and it was an honor to meet him. That’s all it was.

Joy- And he still has that Bible that he had originally.

Ron- I’m sure he does. I’m sure he’ll have that Bible till he goes to heaven.

Joy- Well, thank you guys, you’ve been listening to another episode of Ron’s Adventures,” the podcast that wants to remind you that the Bible has all the answers that you could ever need.

Welcome to Ron’s Adventures,” the podcast that highlights the lighter side of international travel, more specifically the adventures that Ron Pearce has experienced in his 30-plus years of ministry. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce. Hey guys, and welcome back.

Ron- It’s good to be back one more time. Today we are going to be going to Burma or called Myanmar. We’re going to go back into the late 1990s or early 2000s, somewhere around there, when I was in Rangoon or Yangon as it’s called and I was visiting with a group of evangelical pastors, and when I say that, this was at a gentleman’s house and there must have been about 20 pastors. And these are leaders of various denominations, evangelists, key leaders in the country in the national church. So we were all sitting around there and talking about helping them with various things, Bibles and training, and all sorts of other discussion points. So we were sitting around talking and all of a sudden there was both a knock at the door and a commotion outside in the next room and then a lot of people talking in the Burmese language. Then all these gentlemen, all the leaders, got up, stood up on their feet, big smiles on their faces, and this gentleman walks in the room who’s got a taller gentleman with long robes on, a white sort of outfit. He had a bit of an entourage behind him, two or three other men. They came in and they started shaking hands with all the leaders and it seemed like all the leaders were so excited and happy to see him. They go and meet everybody and then he comes over to meet me and I’m introduced to him. I had no idea who he was. Then the leader of the whole operation, the gentleman we work with in country, says, I’d like you to meet this brother who used to be one of the leading Buddhist monks in all of Burma for many, many years who has now accepted the Lord.” In fact, quite a few years ago he accepted the Lord. He said, He has come here today because he would like to meet you and we are asking him to share his testimony.” So I was honored that this fellow was there and he came over to see us. He sat down right beside me and the translator was there, as well. He starts to give me the testimony, and I’ll keep this brief. So, if he wasn’t the top one, he was next to the top leader of all Buddhism in the country. He came to know the Lord by reading his Bible. He found a copy of it and read the Word of God and it basically jumped off the page at him and the needs in his life and the deficiencies he found in Buddhism, and he accepted the Lord. After he had finished his testimony etcetera, I was sitting there with him and everybody else was getting up and having tea or coffee, and he and I and the translator were just sitting together and I asked him, What was it about the Word of God that really moved you to accept Jesus. What was it? There must have been something that pushed you over the edge.” And he said, I want you to look at my Bible,” and he took out his Bible and he opened it and I still remember him turning page after page. And he said, These were the promises of God that I was reading,” and in his Bible he had taken a red pen and circled all the Bible promises in the Bible. Page after page after page. Then he gave me his Bible and I was just turning, it was all the way from Genesis to Revelation, circle after circle after circle. I said, So you circled all the promises of God?” He said, Yes.” This is the most exciting part; he said a Buddhist monk is always looking for a way to meet a god who fulfilled the promises that he gave. He said, God made all these promises and Jesus fulfilled them.” He said, I was reading all these things and they just cut to the heart and soul of my being,” and all the questions he had lived with for so many years within Buddhism were all coming out and being answered by these promises that he read in the Bible. This is what all Buddhist monks want to have. They want to see that God has actually fulfilled His promises and that we can read these promises and that we can find Him. He said he would go into caves and he would be sitting in caves all by himself. Sometimes he would punch himself and beat himself trying to get God’s attention and be noticed but he said all that was in that cave was absolute nothingness and darkness. And he said I would sit in there for day upon day upon day just trying to find God. Then he said, When I opened the Bible I knew this was the book that answered all my prayers you might say. I no longer had to hit myself, I no longer had to go into a cave. Every day, I would just open the Bible and read another promise from God.” That was probably one of the most incredible moments of my life in the fact that here is a man who knew darkness, who knew hopelessness, he was not finding the answers to life. He was high up in a religion that promised these answers but never delivered. And all of a sudden he just found a Bible. A plain, shall I say ordinary Bible, read it, and out of that God spoke to him and he circled all, for him, the important parts. That was very, very exciting to see this brother. I will probably never see him now until we get together in heaven but I’m looking forward to it simply because that day he taught me something. He taught me the power of God’s Word to break through the darkness. And you don’t have to have an evangelist come in sometimes and tell you what the Word says, the Word can explain itself. That was a very important day for me.

Joy- When he picked up this Bible, I wonder if he was expecting something to happen.

Ron- He may have said something along that line but it’s not in my memory right now and it didn’t jump off the page. What he was trying to get to more than anything else, I do remember this, is the fact that he said the Bible did this by itself. God speaking to me through His Word. He said my heart just sort of leapt in front of me when he read it. So that is all I can honestly remember at this point in time. The smile on his face I will always remember, I’ll always remember his white gowns as he came in. He had great stature, he had great respect from everybody else around. I found out afterwards, that he was an example to other Buddhist monks. They would all talk about this brother and say he was one of the first at such a high level to put their faith in Jesus. I knew that the hierarchy of the Buddhist religion within Burma were very angry at him and I heard years later how they made life miserable for him. But it didn’t matter, he had circled in his Bible all the promises of God.

Charis- It reminds me of the one temple, there was one Buddhist monk who was sitting in the sun, staring at the sun searching. This monk had found the answer.

Ron- Do you remember, Charis, when I came home from that one trip. This was the best picture I had ever taken with my camera.

Charis- It was an amazing picture.

Ron- Oh it was. It was this Buddhist monk who was kneeling in Shwedagon Temple. This was the shrine you might say, the number one temple in all of Burma for the Buddhists. Gold was everywhere, gold Buddhas and everything. It was very, very hot there, I mean extremely hot and there were two colored rocks that you could walk on because you couldn’t wear shoes in the temple, you had to go in bare feet. And so I remember when the sun beat down on it the black stones were just like red hot coals, the white stones reflected and you could walk on those, so I was hopping around from white stone to white stone. I came upon this man, he was kneeling down and sort of sitting back on his knees and he was looking into the sun and he had done this, I was told later, for years and years and years, look right into the sun trying to find God and over the years he had gone totally blind. And I don’t know how he could do this, he had this very thick crimson red robe on, wrapped all around him, all onto the ground like a tent around him and he had it wrapped around his neck. All that was showing was his head and this robe all around the ground. He was just looking up into the sun, trying to find God. Charis, that was exactly right. This was a fellow who didn’t find God. But the brother I met in white robes, he was the one who found the Lord through the Bible. Two different stories, two different directions in life. I remember looking at this fellow in the temple after I had taken the picture, and I looked at him and thought, you are blind but you aren’t blind because of the sun in the sky, you are blind because you haven’t found the answer yet and he’s still lost.

<p>Buddhist Temple</p>
This was the shrine you might say, the number one temple in all of Burma for the Buddhists.

Charis- I remember you went back a couple of years later and he was still there.

Ron- I know, he was there, the same man, the same spot, still searching. I don’t know what’s happened to him now. I went back a few years ago and I never saw him again. I am praying that somebody got through to him about the Gospel before, maybe he’s dead now, I’m not even sure. One thing is for sure, the positive news, there are a lot of Buddhist monks in Burma today that are accepting Jesus, that are finding the answers in the Word of God or another Buddhist monk is sharing the Gospel with them, that they had found the answer. I still remember, this was only about a year ago, I was interviewing this one Buddhist monk and I was taking about the fact that he can still go back into the monastery to witness, they haven’t taken his robes away and kicked him out of Buddhism yet even though he’s an outspoken Christian. He’s an evangelist now, he’s led hundreds and hundreds to the Lord. So I said, How do you do that?” He says, They let me come back in and I’ll bring my Bible with me and I sit up on this little wall in one of these monasteries.” In this monastery, there were 1,000 or 2,000 monks that live there and he said they would be sitting in the courtyard or playing cards or rolling dice, playing games things like that, and he would sit up on the wall. Then, he would start to read to them out of the Bible. He would just read and they would come over to him by the dozens or even hundreds, just wanting to hear the Word of God. He’d be reading away and it was all so exciting, these people were just sitting there just listening to the Word of God and trying to understand it. Then he says, I would close the book. Then I would wander off and pretend I was walking away and they would say, No stay, stay, don’t go away!’ So he would say, Well if you insist.’”

Joy- So a flair for the drama!

Ron- Oh, he dramatized it perfectly. So he would go and sit on the wall and leaf through it slowly and say, Oh maybe I’ll read a little bit here.” Then he would read from John’s Gospel or this Gospel or something like that. He would do that for 20 minutes. Then he would say, I’m just going to go sit under the tree over here and if anyone wants to come over and hear more what the Bible says, you come on over and we’ll talk.” Then he said, Dozens would come over and they would all sit around and they have questions.” He gives them the answers right out of the Word of God. He doesn’t give his opinions, he reads the Word of God to them and lets them make up their own mind. I think that’s the essence of what is going on in Burma with the Buddhist monks today. The Word of God is cutting through the darkness and these red circles that I will never forget, are jumping off the page. This is what is changing the world right now, is the Word of God.

Joy- And that is not a normal thing to have an ex-Buddhist monk come back in with Scripture. Why did they allow that to happen?

Ron- This is a good question, I don’t know.

Joy- And is it still happening?

Ron- It’s still happening, oh yeah. One day they are going to say no you can’t come back anymore because you’ve won too many to Jesus. But at the same time, they allow them to do this for a while. We call them Christian Buddhist monks. Not the fact that they have had a mixture between Buddhism and Christianity in their theology, no. They are strong believers. I interviewed this one guy that I was telling you about and his theology is right down the middle of the road. He knows the Word and he knows Jesus is the only answer to life’s problems, he’s got it all lined out, he’s perfect in that. But, he doesn’t take off his robes so that he can appear to be one of them so that he can talk to them. But on a theology angle, no, there’s no problem whatsoever.

Joy- One final question. When a Buddhist monk decides to become a Christian, they walk away from the monastery it’s usually a final step away and they walk away with nothing?

Ron- They walk away with nothing and many times their families won’t even take them back afterwards because they have sort of disgraced their Buddhist family by walking away, because it’s a great honor that one of my children, or my uncle or something like that, is a Buddhist monk. You get more honor in the community. When you walk away from it, you walk away without any clothes, no way of making a living, no family to support you many times. Not always but many times.

Joy- So literally nothing, sometimes without any clothes or without any money.

Ron- Exactly, they have to count the cost when they accept the Lord as a Buddhist monk.

Joy- And I guess I have one last question. That man that you first talked about. Do you think he showed up just to meet you?

Ron- No, I think probably someone had invited him to come over and share his testimony because there was a stranger there. Not knowing it was me, I was nobody. It was just a matter that he came in and it was an honor to meet him. That’s all it was.

Joy- And he still has that Bible that he had originally.

Ron- I’m sure he does. I’m sure he’ll have that Bible till he goes to heaven.

Joy- Well, thank you guys, you’ve been listening to another episode of Ron’s Adventures,” the podcast that wants to remind you that the Bible has all the answers that you could ever need.

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