by Johan Trisanjaya
From the Buddha to Christ—A Young Man’s Journey to the Ancient Christian Church My name is Johan Trisanjaya. I am of Javanese ethnicity in Indonesia. I was born in 1982 in the village of Prigi in Central Java. I was raised in a Buddhist family; my father is a government servant and my mother is a house wife. Most people in our village are Muslim, but many adhere to Buddhism. As a Buddhist, I was so active that I was appointed as the President of the Buddhist Youth Association.
The essence of Buddhist teaching is “to love without limit”, where the law of deeds (“karma”) is emphasized, in which all our deeds in this life will bear fruit in our next re-incar- nation. The love is not limited to only humans either, but in loving plants and animals too, since they could have formerly been human. When you die with a good karma you will be born in the next body in a high state of being. When you die with bad karma, you will be born either in a lower status of life in society, or even as an animal or in the demonic realm.
As I was about to start high school my cousin, Fr Alexios, came to my village and told me to go with him to Solo and to go to school there. He had been a Buddhist before becoming an Orthodox priest. I agreed. I felt that it was okay to be exposed to Christianity only for three years, because it would help to widen my horizon. I had always attended Church worship and gatherings, but I always sat at the back row since I felt guilty about being a Buddhist but praying as a Christian.
Finally, out of my confusion, I left Fr. Alexios’s house and returned back home for two weeks without even a leave of absence from school. During these two weeks, I lost all direction in my life and felt confused. I began to act in a mindless way. I started to do things that I have never done before to the surprise and embarrassment of my father since he is considered a pillar in society.
One day I felt as though someone whispered to me and commanded me to go back to Fr Alexios in Solo, so I went back. After some days in Solo, I began to learn about Orthodoxy again. I felt the urge to be baptized, and Fr. Alexios agreed. I was surprised that even though I did not go to school for two weeks I was not even reprimanded or punished by the school, as would be expected. After I was baptized with the baptismal name of “Johanes” (John), I have been helping the ministry of Fr. Alexios. In the year 2006, I was elevated by Metropolitan HILARION to “Reader.”
What I found liberating in Christianity is that Christ had defeated the power of death through His resurrection so that there are no more endless cycles of birth and death in re-incarnation, and it is no longer the law of karma that has power over you, but the power of grace though Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil. The Buddhists are so frightened by karma, because they are frightened by the prospect of re-incarnation into a lower realm, but there is no fear of God, since God does not exist. But in order to achieve good karma there are so many difficult regulations and requirements to be achieved; it is as if there was no grace of God.
Having understood the beauty of the teaching of Orthodoxy, I now have a very strong desire to serve Christ, either as a priest or as a layperson. I am preparing myself to go to seminary either in Russia or in the United States in order to realize this dream. I have been spending time with Fr. Daniel during his last visit, driving him across Java and up to Bali. Please pray for me. Thank you.
Philip PM says
Another wonderful conversion story! I have been struck by the accounts of people coming to Orthodox Christianity from other world religions, and the details of what it’s like to be brought up in such a religion are so helpful to us ‘westerners,’ in understanding the culture and beliefs we must encounter in helping bring people to the grace of our Lord.
Anthony Mahon says
This is a truly wonderful and inspiring story!!
Your story is truly inspiring! And we have similar backgrounds; I was a devout Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for almost 40 years when I converted to Orthodoxy. Bless you and I know the Holy Spirit will continue shining Radiance upon you!
Adele, if you’re reading this would you kindly contact me? Your past history as a Buddhist intrigues me, and I would love to inquire of you more about Buddhism as my father is strongly contemplating being a Buddhist (which in part has been influenced by his informal readings of quantum physics). My wife and children and I are all Orthodox Christians.
Theodoros Riginiotis says
The Chinese man, God and loneliness: http://www.oodegr.com/english/anatolikes/chinese_God_loneliness.htm.
Fr. John says
A nice short link – so I’ll allow it.
Rita R. Capello says
My Italian heritage traditionally baptize babies within a few months of birth. And so I was baptized a Catholic, went to Catholic schools, attended special Catholic classes, but fell away from the church during my days in college. Since then, I have spiritually been lost. My soul does long to find peace and comfort in the spiritual body of a meaningful church. I have been exploring Orthodoxy because it seems to feel natural to me, but yet I do not know the real difference between Catholic and Orthodoxy. Much of it is the same with the exception of the Pope. I would like to know the real difference between these two churches. Thank you.
Rita R. Capello
Fr. John says
Welcome home. The links below will take you to some specific articles that explain the difference in Catholic (which has changed) and the Orthodox (which has not changed) beliefs on important issues. Those changes led to a massively different spirituality and understanding of grace, despite retaining external similarities. For example, Episcopal churches often ‘look’ similar to Catholic churches, but their beliefs have gone off the rail!
These articles are by no means exhaustive, and my hope is that you will find what so many of us have – Orthodox Christianity is the only unadulterated Christian faith in the world. The best things, always, is to meet and speak with, Orthodox Clergyman or Orthodox Christians who know their faith.
Heaven and Hell in the Afterlife According to the Bible
St. Athanasius and the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement
Some Characteristics Features of Orthodoxy
Expiation. Blood and Atonement
Expiation Not Propitiation
The Term ‘Propitiation’ in St. Paul