Simmie and her husband are immigrants from Indonesia. She escaped from China and is an implacable foe of Communism. Together they run a successful beauty shop known for high quality work. They both wear the brown prayer beads that identify Buddhists; both are very happy and fulfilled in their lives. They remember President Ronald Reagan’s defeat of the Soviets and are conservative voters.
I like my appointments early so when Simmie shows up I am already there. She takes about 5 minutes before work to stand in front of the little plastic Buddha in a corner of the shop. She gives a daily offering, which is often fruit, and says some prayers standing there silently. (Buddhists in China eat the fruit for lunch.) Orientals are a quiet sort anyway. Then she begins her work day.
I marvel at this sight. Here is a plastic Buddha manufactured by presses in the Pacific Rim (even by those new copy machines filled with liquid plastic) and painted with fake gold. Sometimes these Buddhas are ceramic and covered in real gold. But no matter. I wonder, “Whatever good will that do? This is just plastic; he can’t talk back.“
And even Buddha did not claim to be God, only that he had the wisdom of God. And in fact, many people are wise.
This is a god who cannot answer. My God can talk back. I want my God to tell me, “That is a stupid idea,” or – “You are on the right track.” I left Texas a year ago because God said, ”Start packing.” I could not be happier with the results of the move. Buddha can’t tell me that.
In China I asked one teacher, a Buddhist, “What is God’s name?” She answered, “Shang Di.” That is the Chinese word for the creator God. Then I asked, “Do you know His first name?” She did not.
I said, “His first name is Jesus.” Last October someone told me she accepted Jesus as Messiah, finally after 10 years. These things take time.
What do we do with the Simmies in our midst? We need to tell them that our god can talk back. Not through a priest, or even a prophet, but directly. I love hearing testimonies of people who have Jesus show up – sur-prise, sur-prise. He will do it. When Christians pray.