I took this first picture the week we arrived in Thailand. This is inside the biggest Buddhist temple in Chachoengsao province called Wat Sathon. Many Thais come here to offer merit to Buddha. They purchase eggs, flowers, pig heads, etc and offer it to the idols in attempt to balance out their good and bad deeds. They offer the item in front of the idol and bow face down before it, chanting prayers. It was a sad thing to watch. So many people being so dedicated in what they believe, but in the end it makes no eternal difference.
The second picture was taken at a Christian Burmese national conference in Bangkok this last week. There were beautiful tribal dances, riveting speakers, and vibrant worship. If I remember the number correctly, 127 people came to Christ and were baptized last week, including 14 from Chachoengsao. Praise the Lord! They also performed a nativity mime (pictured below). As the wisemen and shepherds bowed down before baby Jesus the King, I was reminded of a similar picture I took several months earlier – the one in Wat Sathon. Before Buddhists know Christ they bow to worthless, lifeless images, but after their heart is opened to the Gospel and they accept Christ as King, they bow down to the Savior of the world, the One who gives Life and peace.
This Christmas, as you reflect on the meaning of the season and why we celebrate, as you gather with family and exchange gifts, as you watch Christmas pageants and look at the nativity scene on your mantel, remember these two pictures. And remember us and the Buddhists in your prayers.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Psalm 95:6-7