David Housholder is a missionary and educator with Interserve USA. Housholder has lived in India, Thailand and Nepal for more than 20 years, working among Tibetan Buddhist people. According to Housholder the best way to evangelize a Buddhist is to start off by being their friend.
“Really be a genuine friend; listen to their story and hear and understand what they mean when they use spiritual terms,” said the South Asia missionary.
He also recommended inviting Buddhist believers to Bible studies.
“One thing they respect is sacred books of other religions, which includes the Bible,” explained Housholder. “They often respond positively when you invite them to a study of the Bible.
“You should go not with the attitude of teaching them what you believe, but allow them to read and question and let the Holy Spirit cause them to fall in love with the Lord Jesus through the Scripture.”
Buddhists have a different understanding of spiritual terminology than Christians. Housholder said that Buddhists do not understand terms such as God, sin, new birth, salvation, heaven and hell the same way Christians understand them.
For Buddhists, there is no such thing as a soul, which Christians consider a person. Buddhists view the soul similar to a rainbow composed of many elements but not existing in a distinct form.
“The Buddhists have the concept of emptiness, there is no essential reality, whereas Christians believe there is something very concrete that God has created and a future in which He will extend the ideal form of that creation,” explained Housholder.
Buddhists contrast with Christians by focusing on how a person lives his life rather than what he believes. Consequentially, Buddhism is a ritualistic religion that some say is more of a lifestyle than a religion.
Housholder suggests that westerners have to be aware that though Buddhism is sometimes presented as a system of meditation to help one relax and feel fulfilled, Christians need to know the spiritual activity being promoted and be able to respond Biblically.
Interserve USA, a Christian professional mission organization,