Leif and Jami G. and their three kids recently moved from the city of Ulan-Ude to a small village populated by Buryats. Tibetan Buddhism heavily influences this unreached people group’s religious beliefs. Our team in Siberia engages Buryats with the message of Christ through community outreach, English classes, and cultural exchanges. Click to explore opportunities to serve with them.
By Jami G. in Siberia, Russia — A clear night with bright stars, the smell of leaves in the thick of a beautiful forest, the spray from a waterfall — these things touch most people’s hearts. We have noticed that nature seems to hold some extra-special value for the Buddhists in our community. They place many shrines on “high places” and tie prayer flags on trees. They urge us to visit the beautiful places in our area of Russia. They want to make sure our hearts are experiencing this grandeur.
When we invite people on camping or hiking trips, our Buryat Buddhist friends show great interest. Each spring my husband, Leif, goes on a mountain climbing trip with a few other believers as well as some people who don’t yet know Jesus. Last spring, Bulat* quickly decided to come along.
Hiking through the beautiful trees by day and sitting around a campfire at night made it easy to have conversations about a Creator. Bulat is a Buddhist, but he had a lot of questions about God and Christianity, and Leif was happy to answer. They also enjoyed quiet moments of silently soaking in God’s creation.
On the final day of the climb, the crew awoke to fog everywhere. They couldn’t see very far ahead of them, and the day was gray and dismal. The group decided to stop and pray that God would clear the clouds away when they reached the summit.
Amazingly, a couple of hours later, just as the hikers were nearing the peak, the clouds parted and the sun shone bright and warm. They could see for miles and miles in each direction. It took their breath away.
Bulat was the first among them to exclaim, “This is what we prayed for! Your God answered our prayer!” He was so amazed that after the hike, he shared the story with his friends on social media. Bulat is not yet a believer in Jesus, but he has experienced a taste of the Lord’s power and care. Pray that Bulat and others like him will come to know their Creator in a personal way.
- We’ve gathered resources about interacting with Buddhists and engaging them in spiritual conversation on our Path to Peace page.
- He tried hard to be a good Buddhist, but found no peace there: Though he excelled at following the precepts, he still felt exhausted, worried, and insecure. Now he’s discovered true peace — and he can’t stop telling others about it.
- Intro to Buddhism: A three-part series covering basic Buddhist beliefs, symbols and traditions, and how to engage Buddhists in meaningful spiritual conversations.
- She became a Buddhist nun to find freedom. 20 years later, she still felt trapped: Desperate to escape the pain of her childhood, she joined the temple. Now she shares how that life also brought bondage.
- ‘It doesn’t work.’ And yet, she still calls herself Buddhist: With nothing to believe in, many young Chinese are turning to Buddhism — and finding it doesn’t bring peace to their frantic, high-pressure lives.
- Don’t miss a story in the Path to Peace series! Sign up to be notified each time we post on this blog. (Just enter your email at the bottom of the page on mobile or in the upper right corner on your computer).
*Not his real name.