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Turning Swords Into Plowshares

8-year-old witnesses to Buddhist monk

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
CLEVELAND, Ga. (BP) -- John Mark Caner, age 8, headed to Thailand with one goal in mind -- to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially with Mr. Wii, a Buddhist monk.

John Mark joined his parents, Emir and Hana, and a 25-member team from Truett-McConnell College who traveled to Thailand on a July 6-25 mission trip. Emir Caner is president of the Baptist-affiliated college in Cleveland, Ga.

John Mark learned of the monk from his parents, who met the Buddhist on a previous mission trip. The youth then rallied some school friends to pray for Wii for the entire year of 2010.

When John Mark and Wii finally met in Chaing Mai, Thailand, the young American asked the monk, who was surrounded by statues of Buddha, "Who do you worship?"

After the obvious answer, John Mark shared with Wii that he was breaking the Lord's commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).

Wii responded to the youth with the Buddhist tenet claiming many paths to God.

John Mark replied with the words of Jesus: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

Though Wii didn't profess faith in Christ, the culmination of personal contact and prayer has fostered a desire in Wii to learn more about Christianity. Wii told Emir Caner of his desire to study the Christian faith among Christians and not Buddhists. Caner offered Wii a semester of study at TMC, and Wii has maintained email contact with the TMC president, telling of his plans to be on campus in the fall of 2012.

"Watching John Mark testify of our Lord and his unconditional love for Buddhists, Muslims, animists -- for all people -- gave me an even greater passion to share my own faith," Emir Caner said. "Through his witness, he reminded me of the words of Jesus who said that the key to the Kingdom comes by having the faith of a little one."


During their trek to Thailand, the mission team also encountered a 95-year-old man who had preached the Gospel in Thailand for 75 years, particularly among members of the Hmong tribe. When the preacher noted that four of the families in his Hmong village were not yet Christians, John Mark jumped at the chance to share the message of Christ with them.

"I loved watching how unafraid he was," his mother Hana said. "It made me wish I was a kid and didn't have the barriers of wondering what people will think about me. It was pretty amazing watching him go to the temples and witnessing him tell people about Christ."

John Mark also distributed tracts and demonstrated an EvangeCube among children, and later shared his Christian testimony with the parents, as he also did at a daycare with kids ranging from preschoolers to teenagers.

"I want to go to Chiang Mai again," John Mark said. "I also want to witness in Bangkok. After that, I want to go to China. I want people to know God so they can go to heaven and live with God forever."

Vicky Kaniaru is senior writer at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., which is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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