Suthee’s Story: From Buddhism, to Nihilism to Jesus

Suthee is a Christ follower from a Thai Buddhist

background. As an introvert and having been

baptized just a couple of months ago, there is

much that isn’t easy for him to articulate. This is my

attempt to put into words the miracle of this young

man’s journey to Jesus.

As an only child born to an unmarried mother,

Suthee bore the shame of having no father and

battled with deep feelings of rejection living in

the traditional Thai community. Following his

mother’s religious practice, he found the rituals of

Buddhism simple and comforting as the focus was

on simple meditation. It was a way to experience

self-awareness and connect with surroundings.

Buddhist religious practice is not dependent on

reading the ancient texts privately; but through

living in community with multiple generations living

out faith publicly in day-to-day life.

Aged 12, Suthee and his mum migrated to England

for a better life. Not only was everything foreign, not

only was everything different, but his frail identity

was destroyed. Cultural adaptation felt impossible

for this pre-teen lad. The inner loneliness was

worse on the outside as he struggled with English

and making friends. The rejection he had felt in

Thailand was now magnified.

Feeling totally lost, by age 15, Suthee found a

connection to the Western world by exploring

Nihilism. Ironically it was by rejecting any existence

of God and belonging that Nihilism provided a place

of belonging. He had found a name for the internal

chaos, the state of the world and the impossibility

of any change. Without even realising it, he had

adapted to a form of the Western culture he was

living in. His new religious rituals were external and

involved self-harm and led to depression.

Even though Suthee had only ever spent a total

of six months with his dad, hearing the news at

age 16 that his father passed away deepened his

depression. At 22 he returned to Thailand for a long

visit.

“I couldn’t even speak in my own language as I had

shut it out of my head. I was as foreign in Thailand

as I had been when I arrived in England at age 12.”

While in Thailand, Suthee’s views of God were

challenged by a young Thai Buddhist lady who was

learning about Jesus. Shocked that he rejected

all religion and saw life as pointless, she asked

if he ever thought about Jesus. Maintaining a

relationship with this lady, Suthee returned to

England.

Living in Manchester he had often seen a street

preacher. “On this day he asked me if I believed

in Jesus and said: ‘Your life matters to God.’ I took

the little book he offered and read it every day for

two weeks.” Not knowing how to pray, he simply

asked: “God, is it ok if I talk to you like I would talk

to my dad? Screaming out to Jesus was the best

decision of my life.”

Suthee identifies himself with Mephibosheth in 2

Samuel 9. King David finds a lost relative who was

crippled and brings him into the palace. “I was that

crippled, rejected, hopeless one that Jesus picked

up and brought into the palace.”

Suthee, now living, working and attending church

in London, is trying to share Jesus with his mum

who lives in Manchester. Currently he is seeking

others who will help him learn more about living as

a Christ follower from a Thai Buddhist background.

By Usha Reifsnider

 

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