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Life Is Like A Boat

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

Thai evangelistic tractA couple months ago I was chatting with our neighbor across the street and I decided to get out the poster preaching book that I had bought for personal and open air evangelism and tell one of the stories in it, about some people riding in a boat. This neighbor had previously told me, from his Buddhist perspective, about how life is like a boat and we are all riders in the boat. So, I had another boat story for him.

If you've read some of the previous posts in this blog, this is the same guy who thinks that God helped him get a winning lottery ticket after we prayed for him (we didn't pray for a winning lottery ticket, by the way).

The story is told using a series of poster size pictures, the first of which is also the cover of a tract which tells the same story (see picture above). In brief, the story goes like this: A bunch of people go out for a pleasure trip in a boat and while they are having a good ol' time, the boat flips over. None of them can swim so they are frantically thrashing around for dear life when another boat approaches. They think they are saved, but NO! The man rowing the boat in their direction stays a little distance away and takes out a swimming manual and begins to read it to them, instructing them in the proper swimming method that they need to use in order to save themselves. So some of them drown, but then, while the first guy is still reading the "how to swim" book, another boat approaches and the man in that boat comes right up to the people and starts lifting them out of the water and into the boat. The point of the story is that in order to be saved from sin and hell, we don't need someone to teach us how to save ourselves, but rather we need a Savior who will save us. Thai Buddhists usually think about religion as merely good teaching. From that perspective, they often respond to the Gospel by saying, "Oh, all religions are good because they teach you to be a good person." So, the point of this boat story is to say that we need a Savior nor merely a good religious teacher.

When I finished telling the story, I asked our neighbor that if he were a character in the story, which one would he be? One of the people thrashing around in the water or one of the people in the boat? He pointed the man in the boat pulling people out of the water and said, "That's me. I've worked hard my whole life, endured much hardship, paid off my karma, and acquired wisdom. Now I am at the point where I can turn around and help other people too." He clearly pointed out the Christ figure in the story and said "That's me"! It saddened me that he he so clearly and directly said that he is his own Savior and that of others too. He either totally missed the point of the story or just doesn't believe it. I vote for the later. If people have come to the end of themselves and are under the convicting and converting power of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel is not difficult to understand and embrace. But if they don't want to believe, and the Devil has blinded their eyes to the truth of the Gospel, then understanding is impossible. But conversion is the job of the Holy Spirit. The believer's task is faithful proclamation of the Gospel.

At one point early in the Reformation, some of Martin Luther's enthusiastic students started going into people's houses and destroying the Catholic idols that they venerated and prayed to. Luther called them in and told them that they were completely out of line and that they should cease and desist from destroying other people's idols and icons. The students, eager for the glory of God and the destruction of blasphemous idols, replied, "What then should we do?!" Luther replied, "Preach, then sleep." Luther understood clearly that the job of the Christian is to live out and to speak God's truth and it is God who will make it bear fruit. May the Christ establish his church in Thailand.

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