A Shower of Salvation; God's Miracle or Coincidence? - One's Impossible Conversion from Buddha to Jesus
Grad Night 1996
Avoiding Jesus at All Costs
Growing up in a family that passively practiced Buddhism, I was clueless about Jesus and Christianity. My mother was the main influence on my father, my sister, and me in regards to religion. She had come from generations of Buddhists before her. Apparently, many of our family's decisions, fortunes, and downfalls were a direct result of Buddha's influence. As a young child, I saw my mother ask Buddha questions and throw a pair of large wooden beans to receive an answer. One way would say yes, another would mean no, and the last combination meant, "try again, it's unclear." Many times, we were made to bow with incense sticks in hand and pray to this Buddha that watched over us. There were many other rituals I engaged in, but had no understanding of what they meant; I just went with the flow.
In high school, I was exposed to Christianity for the very first time. Many of my friends at the time attended a school club called Allies. They sang songs that worshipped this person named Jesus, and speakers gave sermons about redemption. Some people had both their hands raised while other jumped up screaming, "Amen" at odd times. Were these people possessed? One of my best friends took me one day and told me, "I don't want you to go to hell." A person with little knowledge of what he was talking about like me would naturally react, "screw you." With my influences at home and my unfortunate exposure at school, Jesus had no place in my life.
God's Unlikely Method of Luring Me to His Kingdom
It was the summer after graduation just after the photo above was taken. I had three months to enjoy pure bliss before starting the next chapter of my life, college. I had a crush on a girl that ultimately led me to church and a bible camp that summer. My friend had plotted a scheme that would bring the the two of us together, but surprisingly it would not be with the girl. Something greater was set to happen.
Coincidentally another young man had taken a similar interest to the girl and offered her and her friend a ride to bible camp. My friend and I would simply not back down so easily without a fight. My friend took the chance to help me out and convinced the girl just before the trip to change her transportation situation. His bold statement went something like, "you don't want to ride two hours with him! He's got no personality. Now, we got personality." Somehow his perseverance had worked, and we were on our way to bible camp with two good-looking girls.
The drive to the camp site was boring with miles and miles of highway, but it set the perfect environment for silly car games and deep conversations. Up to this point, the plan worked accordingly. There was without a doubt that God's plan was too.
We arrived just in time for dinner, and were unable to resist a free meal. They served some type of stew, but it did not matter; we were not picky eaters. Anything that was free, hot, and filling was just as good as any five star meal. After dinner, we tried to make our way to the door when we were stopped by the youth pastor.
"Why are you guys in such a rush? Stay a while for small group. It's the least you can do after enjoying this fine meal." My friend and I looked at each other and agreed to stay. "Who would have thought evangelism used guilt too?" I thought to myself.
After an hour of sharing feelings, thoughts, and prayers, something I had no appreciation for at that point, it was time to go. We swiftly walked to the door and tried to make our escape again. "Why don't you stay the night? It's a long drive back," the pastor shouted out as he chased us down. "Thanks, but no thanks. We appreciate the hospitality, but we really should leave," my friend responded.
The two compadres were back on the road again and just thirty minutes to the main highway. Halfway there under the light of the moon, there sat a small lake with a canoe beached on the shore. Neither of us had ever been in a canoe, and the opportunity would not pass us by. It seemed like we were never destined to leave. My friend and I hopped in the canoe, and shoved off into the lake, or more accurately a shallow, swampy pond. After a few strokes, we noticed In the middle of the pond sat three ducks gliding around in circles. My friend exclaimed, "Let's get them!"
" 'Let's get them?' Why did that seem like a good idea at the time?" After chasing the ducks around for about five seconds, the canoe tipped over, and we were drenched with swampy, foul-odored water. My friend and I both laughed at each other and made our way to shore. Our next, new order of business was to find a clothing store quick.
After successfully buying new clothes and changing, we decided to drive back to the camp; we were exhausted. It was just before sunrise, and some of the congregation had woken for sunrise service. After sharing a few laughs with some of the church members, the pastor offered the showers and bunks for our use. After a small breakfast, It was time to clean up and bed down for a few hours.
My friend and I woke up to find the cabins empty. Everyone was at mid-morning service, and it was a perfect opportunity to leave. We had made it as far as our car when the youth pastor and some of the other members chased us down again. "Where are you going? It's almost lunch time. Please stay and enjoy a hot meal." I remember looking around and thinking, "they must have surveillance cameras or a sixth sense."
I glared at the pastor after hearing his comment. "We really do appreciate it, but we really have overstayed our welcome. To be honest, we're tired, cranky, and we want to go back to the comforts of our homes." The tenacious pastor did not surrender so easily. "I never do this, but I feel convicted. Challenge God! Tell Him to show you a sign, any sign. Give him a chance to show you His power so that you can believe too."
"Ask for a sign, huh?" I pondered. Peering up into the clear, blue, cloudless sky, I had the perfect answer to get us out of camp. "Okay, if God's there and we're meant to stay, let God pour down on this camp. Make it rain!" The pastor smiled and replied, "Sure, but you have to give him a little time. Stay a little bit for the service and if nothing happens, then please be on your way."
We made our way back into the assembly room and participated in the the morning worship. Just as soon as I began to smirk and think, "we're going to be out of here so quick", it started to pour. You could hear the pitter patter of the rain drops falling on the roof. I remember peering outside to the balcony and finding something quite odd. I could see a down pour of rain only within the boundaries of the complex, but the sky still remained clear, blue, and cloudless. How could this be possible? It did not make any sense, but there was only one possible explanation; God was great. I remember the goosebumps and the hair on the back of my neck rising. We both fell to our knees and pronounced our new faiths with the congregation as our witnesses.
I feel very blessed to have experienced the power of God. When I least expected it, God had a plan all along, and he used whatever tools he needed to bring me to his kingdom. Next time you decide to challenge God and ask him to strike you with lightning, I would be careful. I hope this story inspires someone, or refreshes those who live in the kingdom of God. Thank you for reading.