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Former Buddhist Student Leader Becomes Christian

By Editorial Staff
Published January 2, 1989

Editor’s Note: Samuel Autman, a journalism student at the University of Missouri in Columbia, was once a student chapter leader in a growing sect of Buddhism known as Nichiren Shoshu American. Nichiren, which emphasizes world peace, boasts a membership of 17 million world-wide with half a million in America.

I’m Samuel Autman, a 22-year-old native of St. Louis. I want to share how the true and living God delivered me from Buddhism.

I had searched high and low for the “perfect teaching,” until finally I discovered a group of Buddhists who seemed happy. This sect believed that by chanting a specific phrase everyday, humans can experience true happiness. I attended one of their meetings and discovered that they were average people who chanted this single phrase rhythmically. The leaders told me to not believe in the chanting, only to try it and see what kind of results I got. I was instructed to make a list of things and chant to see if it worked. This was the measure they used to test the validity of any teaching.

Amazingly, I started receiving an incredible amount of material gain. I began to chant everyday and waited excitingly to see what kind of results I would get. I chanted for two years before I became a Buddhist. I joined the group in 1985 and got an altar, prayer beads, incense, and candles. I also received a ‘gohonzon,’ a scroll written in Sanskrit, which was my object of worship. The leaders told me that my gohonzon was a “driver’s license” to my own destiny, and that the power was in writing the chant on it.

Immediately after transferring to the University of Missouri I started a Nichiren Shoshu American chapter. I cultivated a membership of 20 students by going out on campus and encouraging people to chant so they could become happy.

Ultimately these chanters hope to attain world peace through individual happiness. I had gained a car, money, and jobs, supposedly from chanting. But I had no peace. I seemed confident, happy, and on top of things. But I would wake up at night screaming for help, and no one ever knew.

Meanwhile, I kept running into born-again Christians. When I spent my summer in Birmingham, Alabama, I met a Christian college student who said that she was praying for me. I hated her. When I returned to school, I met another Christian, Jim. He and I had two classes together so we decided to work on a project. I had no idea he was a Christian.

One night I called Jim and he answered, “Maranatha Christian Church, this is Jim.” My first response was to hang up. This must be a mistake – Jim is a nice guy. How could he be involved in that! I figured I’d study with him anyway just for laughs. He couldn’t do anything to me … all he could do was pray. What good would that do?

We completed our projects at the Maranatha house and I was impressed by the gentleness of the Christian young people there. Jim began to witness to me about holy living and walking with Jesus. Something happened inside of me. Jim spoke with such conviction and sincerity, and he never made me uncomfortable with harsh words. He later told me that he had been praying for me, and I became painfully aware that I was worshipping a false god.

I skipped an international Nichiren conference to attend a Maranatha church service that Sunday. I was impressed by the college students praising God! I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit and confessed Jesus as my Lord. Immediately after the service, I burned my altar, the false god, and about $200 worth of Buddhist literature.

When the Buddhist leaders heard that I had became a born-again Christian instead of going to the conference, they were furious. I had been taught that the gohonzon was the epitome of life and if I burned it, my life would be gone. Within that same month, the regional directors drove to the campus to visit me and to encourage me to continue my chanting. However, I’ve continued to walk with God.

I wrote a letter to all of the leaders telling them about my conversion and the deception of Buddhism. I’m now writing a tract in hopes that other students won’t fall into the deception that I once was in. I am free to serve the true and living God. He that the Son sets free is free indeed!


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Your comments are welcome!

If I was ever convinced that Buddah was real, your tstimony did it for me! For years, I thought that being a christian would solve my mental problems. However, after having a near stroke in church, I realized that these cliche conversions have nothing to do with my walk with a living breathing Buddah that gives a damn about me!

Posted by Jerilyn Bridges on 05/25/2009 10:09 PM #

The Buddha was never a god, so you can’t expect him to save you! You can’t trust Buddha! You can only trust the ALMIGHTY GOD! Even according to the Buddhist texts the Buddha is not a mighty being. And remember, Buddha is DEAD! He’s been dead for thousands of years now, but God is ALIVE!

Posted by Ted Leonard on 04/26/2010 01:51 AM #

Burning an altar is not common sense and common sense is what Buddhism is all about. “One who refuses to seek the advice of others will eventually be led to a path of ruin. A mentor helps you to perceive your own weaknesses and confront them with courage. The bond between mentor and protégé enables us to stay true to our chosen path until the very end.” Daisaku Ikeda

Posted by Zelda on 07/16/2010 11:59 AM #

Buddhism is a false gospel led by satan and demons, and like a woman told me 22 years ago, only Jesus will lead me to eternity in Heaven, Buddha will lead me to a horrible agonizing eternity in hell!! Praise God for your freedom!!!

Posted by Joseph on 09/30/2010 02:40 PM #

@Jerilyn Dude, you don’t know what Buddhism is! Buddha never claimed to be God, he was only a teacher. True Buddhists don’t even claim to know the creator of this universe. It’s very impersonal. What they claim to know about is karma and the cycle of rebirth, which can be broken by achieving “enlightenment”.

I’m a Christian, and I learned this in just an hour right now while doing late night surfing on the Internet.

Jesus is the most trustworthy path, and true Christianity doesn’t involve any set of rules or rituals, barring the Ten Commandments. All you have to do is accept Jesus Christ, and you’re free. It’s ironic how people in the western world regard Christianity as the most strict belief system there is (no thanks to the church), when really it’s actually the easiest and most freeing.

Posted by Paul on 01/29/2012 04:35 AM #

My son was in prison and became a Buddhist and he started meditation. Once he began meditation he started hearing voices and supposedly peoples thoughts? The voices never stop and he is suicidal because they won’t stop. I admitted him to the mental hospital tonight. What are the voices? How does he stop them?

Posted by Tana Choate on 04/16/2013 03:13 AM #

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