‘Nambodia Post 3 Our Multi-relgious Experience


Today, our objective was to observe how cosmopolitan the religious climate was in the 4 major world religions in Ho Chi Minh. So we went to a mosque, a Buddhist temple, then to a Hindu one, and lastly to a Catholic church.

The mosque was pretty small, quiet and I am not sure anyone showed up for morning prayers which is sort of a shame because I like the idea of gathering for prayer. The iman was welcoming and we tried to engage in conversation but unfortunately, our language barrier proved to be too much. I think what I liked most about the mosque was how conveniently it was situated in the neighborhood. It was accessible and that would prove to be one of the themes of the day.

Next we headed to a Buddhist temple. It had numerous shrines and rooms and landings with more shrines and rooms and while it wasn’t large enough to get lost in, it was pretty big. There was a lot to take in, a lot of aesthetics, statues, flashing lights, candles, motion, etc. While it was great to be there, I never got settled and felt distracted. The room that I liked the most was off to the left of the main hall. Aside from a ringing a bell when a worshipper would enter, pray, and “cross themselves” (I could never figure out what sign the hands actually made), that was the only room that I could find some stillness in. It turned out that room had what was called the 12 scenes of hell in it. I found that interesting for several reasons, it was the least visited room, the quietest and until i was told that, it was the room that I liked the most. Not sure what that means exactly but I did give a pray of confession and praised the Lord for forgivness and walked away appreciating that the Buddhists shared the idea of separation from God (from my vantage point).

After enjoying lunch at “The Saigon Lunch Lady” as featured by Anthony Bourdain, grabbing some iced coffee and catching our breath for a little bit, we set out to the Hindu temple. It was considerably smaller and simpler than the Buddhist temple and I also found those who worked there to be more hospitable to us obvious foreigners. We were offered incense sticks and a couple people employed and non-employed engaged us in conversation. One worshipper explained to Jay and I that all are welcomed to pray to whomeever. Jay said that he prayed to Jesus and she said that was great. She went on to explaion that when praying, you should use 8 or 16 sticks of incense. Feeling very comfortable, I grabbed 7 sticks (because that number has more significance for me), removed my shoes, and spent a considerable time lighting them (I admit, it was a bit anti-climactic – lol). After finally getting them lit appropriately (such a newbie), and identifying 3 stations, I prayed to my Lord and I must say, it did not feel odd at all. In fact, as I was praying, I felt the insense sitcks moving a bit and so I slowed down my breathing and tried to still my body hoping that the rest of me would be stilled. That was beautiful. I prayed in three’s (normal things like my family, my ministry and different aspects of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – too awkward to really explain here). In leaving, i was grateful for that experience. I have prayed in the car, in movie theaters, in hospitals and have always sensed my God hearing those prayers, today did not feel any different. Also, I could not help but not think of Paul in Athens. So much more to say on that but I’m still processing.The last place we visited was this beautiful Catholic church. It was absolutely beautiful. It was in a nice part of the town and not only was it accessible but sitting on a city block by itself, it seemed dedicated. I have always loved the gothic architecture and all the stations inside such sanctuaries. It was quiet, dark, and very inviting for prayer and meditation. It was the perfect place to sit and reflect and converse with the Lord. I could not help but feel envious for not living in a city where this type of sanctuary was not available. Living next door to ours, I admit not feeling awed by the room (although it is a nice looking sanctuary for Proteastant churches built in the last 50 years but let’s face it, you just can’t compete with that gothic arhictecture). It’s probably part of the reason I almost always stop at St. Patricks Cathedral or the Grace Church (in the Village) in NYC.

Lastly, sitting in the church, I could not help but be grateful for all the different types of sanctuaries that God inhabits. It seemed very clear to me that the sign on the door could not keep His presence in or out and I found myself praying that all seeked would find. Jesus’ Gospel is for all and I was once again reminded from different angles of that essential truth today.
Tomorrow we go to Long Xuyen and begin our time of dialogue with the An Giang University students. Aside from the 6 hour bus ride, we are all pretty excited about this and these past two days of walking, observing and dialouging with each other has served us well. I think we are rested and prepared as we can be.



  1. Dr. Dave says:

    Hey Brother, just want you to know you are loved and being prayed for. ( family too) Unbelievable so far! The emotional side of it must be and sounds pretty intense. Touring the different places of worship/prayer looks like alot of fun. Sounds like even in the most empty of places it sure is nice to know that God is still there. I am sure that experience will help you understand the people even more as you get ready to meet and greet with them. Look forward to hearing more!

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