1/18/13 Joseph, 26
I walked through a Panera Bread, which has the informal atmosphere of a coffee shop, looking for someone who might have some time to talk in order to be intentional about sharing the Gospel.. Most patrons probably thought I was there to meet a friend – and I was - I just had never met him yet! A young man named Joseph, working on his computer, agreed to answer my random question. An hour later he told me he had been studying for his EMT exam but was falling asleep and welcomed a study break. My question: “What do you think happens to people after they die?” He thought for a long second or two and said “It all depends on what they believe” “So do you think people’s beliefs change the truth of what happens or does that truth exist independent of what they believe?” “Well I’m Buddhist so I guess I can only speak from my own beliefs.” I asked Joseph all about his experiences growing up in America as the son of Buddhist parents from Thailand. He has experienced the pull from both his eastern heritage and religion, and the western culture he has grown up in. He has decided as an adult to practice Buddhism himself, and recently spent half a year as a Buddhist monk in Thailand with its life of simplicity and meditation, giving villagers who donated food to the monks blessings of “good Karma”. I spent about 45 minutes hearing about the beliefs and daily practices of Buddhism and about Joseph’s experiences growing up, and then about 15 minutes sharing the Gospel. Some might think them a waste of time but those first 45 minutes were valuable because I found out different points of connection between his beliefs and the mine. I also won his respect and interest in Christianity by showing a genuine desire to know more about his beliefs and an appreciation for his spiritual experiences. I learned a lot about Buddhism today, but the exciting and important thing to me is that Joseph heard the Gospel.