About three years ago, SEND missionaries Gary and Mabel Meade got to know Liu Li-Dan, a former Buddhist nun. Together, they and other ministry partners engage the unreached Hakka people in Taiwan. As part of her ministry, Liu Li-Dan shares her testimony of leaving the temple and finding Christ.  

I was raised by my grandmother but returned to live with my parents when I was in seventh grade. I became eccentric, unsociable, willful, taciturn and short-tempered because I was unfamiliar with my classmates and the new environment. My grades weren’t as good as my classmates’, and I couldn’t accept falling short, so I started to isolate myself and became fearful. There was no joy at all in my life.

After I graduated from high school and passed the university entrance exam, my classmate invited me to a Buddhist lecture. The speaker told us: “There are all kinds of pains in life. Every now and then there will be a little pleasure, but it is not real happiness; all of a sudden it will become painful. If you want to eliminate the pains, you need to cultivate the way of Buddhism.”

At that time, I thought as long as I concentrated on repeating the name of a Buddha, I could wipe out my karma, and when I passed away I could go to the Pure Land of Amitābha in the West.

 

Desperate for escape

I wanted to run away from the complicated world and, with all of my heart, wanted to be far away from Taiwan. In order to pass the exam for studying abroad, I went to a Buddhist nun temple to prepare. Every day I lived with those nuns who left their homes and saw their simple way of life. It felt completely different from the outside world. I fell in love with this kind of life — being away from home, standing aloof from worldly affairs.

I didn’t pass the study-abroad exam, so I gave up the idea of leaving Taiwan. But in 1981, I decided to leave my worldly home to be a nun. I left behind my identity; nuns don’t use their names from their parents’ home. I thought I would grow old and die in the temple.

Liu Li-dan visiting with school kids in 1994.

 

I stayed a nun for 20 years, and the more religious I was, the emptier and duller I felt. We were asked to work and work and work, and my heart became so dried up. We didn’t love and care for each other; everyone was selfish and doing her own thing.

The Buddhist rules and the so-called “respect-inspiring deportment” are countless. There are 348 rules for nuns, 84,000 deportments and 120,000 details. To fulfill a few rules is already not easy. What the Bible says is really true: “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” We were tightly bound by the rules, deportments and details; everyone had sour expressions on their faces, and no one knew what joy is.

 

‘There are many nuns in front of the hell gate’

I realized my situation was reflected in two common Buddhist sayings that I had laughed at in the past: “Leaving the worldly home, enter another bondage,” and “There are many monks and nuns in front of the hell gate.”

During the busyness in the last temple where I lived, I felt so far away from the meaning of life that I was looking for. My heart got more and more empty. I said to myself, “Am I here just for food to pass my days? I would rather return to my worldly home.”

In 2001, I did just that. I decided to leave the temple life. I wanted to grow old and die in my own home.

I didn’t socialize with friends after I returned home. Though I was still a Buddhist nun, sometimes I would wonder, “What is Christianity all about?”

 

Truth on the small screen

I started watching Good TV, and my heart was attracted to it completely. After watching for some time, I found that I hadn’t read the Buddhist Sutras for a long while. When I thought of that, I said to myself, “Ah! How terrible I am! I am a nun, but I can’t open the Sutras anymore. God, what should I do?”

Now, Liu Li-Dan uses her testimony as a former Buddhist nun to tell others about the peace she found through Christ.

My first impression of those Christians on TV was that they were joyful and full of vitality. That is what I couldn’t see in the Buddhist world. Those monks and nuns who study the Buddhist ways are blinded by all kinds of rules; they need to be aloof and indifferent from human emotions like happiness, anger, sadness and joy. They need to be serious in speech and manner.

Gradually, I found I had peace in my heart. I thought, “It’s time for me to consider believing in the Lord.” The God of Christianity is the living and true God. He is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. He is love.

I welcome those who haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as Savior to join this big family of Christ, to enjoy and experience the wide and long and high and deep love of Christ. Let our life stories be full of God’s stories. Jesus loves you; God bless you. All the glory to God.

 

Path to Peace: Lighting the Way for Buddhists