“Buddha Did Nothing”

The leader of Gospel for Asia’s ministry in Myanmar spoke Friday at GFA’s “Renewing Your Passion” Conference in Dallas Texas. The people of Myanmar (formerly Burma) have suffered greatly since Cyclone Nargis struck the region in May.

The cyclone took an estimated 350,000 lives. More than 100,000 are still missing. But life was not much better for those who survived. More than 1.6 million homes were destroyed and 1.3 million acres of fertile crop land were damaged as the cyclone swept across an area known as “the rice bowl of Myanmar.”

“In some affected areas, the dead are more than the living,” the missionary noted. There was no way to bury the vast number of dead, so their corpses litter the waterways and landscape.

Then GFA missionaries and volunteers showed up with emergency food and supplies. The missionary leader himself was on the crew of volunteers who helped serve food to survivors who took refuge at the GFA Bible College in Yangon (Rangoon). He, and every other missionary who served with him, were letting their lives preach the sermons during those days.

The people in this majority Buddhist country were stunned at the love these Christians showed to them. Two families who went without food for seven days after the storm articulated their thoughts about Jesus to the missionaries who brought them food.

“Buddha did nothing while we were suffering. But your Jesus loves us,” the missionary reported. “Now every Sunday they are coming to church and worshipping the Lord.”


  1. 3D says:

    Is charity as a competitive event?

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    3D – I sure hope not, because if so, I definitely lose. I think the more interesting question (at least for me) is, is there somethng in the teachings of Christ that prompts acts of charity in a different way than Buddhist teachings? What does Buddhism teach about relieving human suffering, and what does Christ teach? Not that we Christians are always living it out as best we should, but love your neighbor is definitely part of the core teaching.

  3. nate says:


    Though I agree that the issue of charity in Buddha’s teachings (or, more precisely, the teachings of Buddhism loosely attributed to Buddha) versus in Jesus’ teachings (or, more precisely, the teachings of Christianity loosely attributed to Jesus) is an interesting one worth exploring, the way that this post is titled and worded certainly does make charity seem like a competition.

    Worse, it seems to pit one religion against another. This kind of thinking (which I’m not accusing you of 🙂 can lead only to competitive ignorance and dismissal of other peoples’ cultures.

    Is this sort of thinking encouraged in Christianity? On the one hand I’ve heard many Christians refer to the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus; on the other hand I’ve heard plenty of ‘flaming sword’ type stuff and more than enough gay-bashing.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Nate – Thanks for jumping into the discussion. I didn’t intend this post to come across as a charity slugfest, and I’m sorry if it appeared that way.

    I found the article interesting and worthy of highlighting for two reasons. One is that it is a positive story of people helping people. The other reason was the quote at the end of the article. The title for the post came from this quote.

    I found the quote startling, as it did not come from the Christians who were helping, but from the Buddhist families who were being helped. They were the ones who felt that Buddha had not helped them in this situation, but that Jesus did. As a Christian who believes in the resurrection of Christ, I found the quote even more profound, because I believe Jesus really was helping them through the actions of his followers.

    As far as pitting one religion against another, I don’t think we can (or should) say that Christians are better people than Buddhists or anything like that. However, I do think we can compare the truth claims of different religions and the teachings of different religions. Is there a love ethic in Christianity that spurred these Christians to reach out and help those of a different religion and culture? Is there a fatalism inherent in Buddhism that may have held back the same type of love and assistance? For those Christians who do not respond to situations like this with compassion, is there a disconnect between their faith and their lives? I think these are important questions to address.

    So in summary, I don’t think Christians should be dismissive of people in other cultures. I believe that Christianity is true, and that Buddhism is not. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from people in Buddhist cultures. And I certainly don’t think I am any better than someone who believes differently than me.

    Hope that helps! Thanks for commenting.

  5. reader says:

    this post is a kind of victory dance that reveals the evangelical compulsion to triumph over other religions.

  6. Ray Fowler says:

    Reader – I’m sorry you took it that way. You weren’t the only one, which means I should probably re-examine my motivations in posting it.

    I do believe that Christianity is true and that other religions are false. Do you feel that such a belief alone constitutes a “victory dance” over other religions or is there an additional attitude in the post that bothers you?

    I would like to know. I can’t change my belief, but if I can work on an attitude adjustment that helps me communicate that belief more effectively to others, I am all for that.

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