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The Hoax Story of Remarkable Testimony of a Buddhist monk in
Myanmar (Burma) who came back to life a changed man!
Hoax Monk Story

The Hoax Story of Remarkable Testimony of a Buddhist monk in Myanmar (Burma) who came back to life a changed man!

Introduction
The story that follows is simply a translation of a taped testimony from a man with a life-changing story. It is not an interview or a biography, but simply the words from the man himself. Different people react in different ways when they hear this story. Some are inspired, some skeptical, a few will mock and ridicule, while some others have even been filled with rage and anger, convinced these words are the ravings of a mad man or an elaborate deception. Some Christians have opposed the story simply because the radical and miraculous events described herein do not fit their feeble image of an Almighty God.

We were first made aware of this story from several Burmese church leaders who shared it with us. These leaders had looked into the story and had not found any suggestion of it being a hoax. It was with this in mind that we decided to step out and circulate the story. We do not do so for any monetary gain, or with a motivation of self-promotion. We just want to let the story speak for itself, and invite Christian believers to judge it according to Scripture. If God wants any part of it to be intended for His glory or to encourage His people, then we pray His Spirit will work in the hearts of the readers in those ways.

Some people have told us they think the monk in this story never actually died, but that he just lapsed into unconsciousness, and the things he saw and heard were part of a fever-driven hallucination. Whatever you think, the simple fact remains that the events of this story so radically transformed this man that his life took on a complete 180-degree shift after the events described below. He has fearlessly and boldly told his story at great personal cost, including imprisonment. He has been scorned by his relatives, friends and colleagues, and faced death threats for his unwillingness to compromise his message. What motivated this man to be willing to risk everything? Whether we believe him or not, his story is surely worth listening to and considering. In the cynical West many people demand hard evidence of such things, evidence that would stand up in a court of law. Can we absolutely guarantee, beyond doubt, that all of these things happened? No, we cannot. But we feel it is worth repeating this man's story in his own words so that readers can judge for themselves.

My Early Years
Hello! My name is Athet Pyan Shinthaw Paulu. I am from the country of Myanmar. I would like to share with you my testimony of what happened to me, but first I would like to give some brief background information from my life growing up.

I was born in 1958 in the town of Bogale, on the Irrawaddy Delta area of southern Myanmar [formerly Burma]. My parents, who were devout Buddhists like most people in Myanmar, named me Thitpin [which means 'tree' in English]. Our lives were very simple where I grew up. At the age of 13 I left school and started working on a fishing boat. We caught fish and sometimes also shrimp from the numerous rivers and streams in the Irrawaddy area. At the age of 16 I became the leader of the boat. At this time I lived in Upper Mainmahlagyon Island [Mainmahlagyon means 'Beautiful Woman Island' in English], just north of Bogale where I was born. This place is about 100 miles southwest of Yangon [Rangoon], our nation's capitol city.

One day, when I was 17, we caught a large number of fish in our nets. Because of the many fish, a large crocodile was attracted to us. It followed our boat and tried to attack us. We were terrified so we frantically rowed our boats toward the riverbank as fast as we could. The crocodile followed us and smashed our boat with its tail. Although no one died in this incident, the attack greatly affected my life. I no longer wanted to fish. Our small boat sank because of the crocodile attack. We had to go home to our village that night on a passenger boat.

Not long after, his employers transferred my father to Yangon City [formerly spelt Rangoon]. At the age of 18 I was sent to a Buddhist monastery to be a novice monk. Most parents in Myanmar try to send their son into a Buddhist monastery, at least for a time, as it is considered a great honor to have a son serve in this way. We have been observing this custom for many hundreds of years.

A Zealous Disciple of Buddha
When I turned 19 years and 3 months old (in 1977), I became a normal monk. The senior monk at my monastery gave me a new Buddhist name, which is the custom in our country. I was now called U Nata Pannita Ashinthuriya. When we become a monk we no longer use the name given to us at birth by our parents. The name of the monastery I lived at is called Mandalay Kyaikasan Kyaing. The senior monk's name was called U Zadila Kyar Ni Kan Sayadaw [U Zadila is his title]. He was the most famous Buddhist monk in all of Myanmar at the time. Everyone knew who he was. He was widely honored by the people and respected as a great teacher. I say he "was" because in 1983 he suddenly died when he was involved in a fatal car accident. His death shocked everyone. At the time I had been a monk for six years.

I tried hard to be the best monk I could and to follow all the precepts of Buddhism. At one stage I moved to a cemetery where I lived and meditated continually. Some monks who really want to know the truths of Buddha do things like I did. Some move deep into the forests where they live a life of self-denial and poverty. I sought to deny my selfish thoughts and desires, to escape from sickness and suffering and to break free from the cycle of this world. At the cemetery I was not afraid of ghosts. I tried to attain such inner peace and self-realization that even when a mosquito landed on my arm I would let it bite me instead of brushing it off!

For years I strived to be the best monk I could and not to harm any living being. I studied the holy Buddhist teachings just like all my forefathers had done before me.

My life proceeded as a monk until I got very, very sick. I was in Mandalay at the time and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. The doctors did some tests on me and told me I had both Yellow Fever and malaria at the same time! After about one month in the hospital I was getting worse. The doctors told me there was no chance for me to recover and discharged me to make arrangements to die.

This is a brief description of my past. I would now like to tell you some of the remarkable things that happened to me after this timeS..

A Vision that Changed My Life Forever
After I was discharged from the hospital I went back to the monastery where other monks cared for me. I grew weaker and weaker and was lapsing into unconsciousness. I learned later that I actually died for three days. My body decayed and stunk of death, and my heart stopped beating. My body was prepared for cremation and was put through traditional Buddhist purification rites.

Although I faded away in my body I remember my mind and spirit were fully alert. I was in a very, very powerful storm. A tremendous wind flattened the whole landscape until there were no trees or anything else standing, just a flat plain. I walked very fast along this plain for some time. There were no other people anywhere, I was all alone. After some time I crossed a river. On the other side of the river I saw a terrible, terrible lake of fire. In Buddhism we do not have a concept of a place like this. At first I was confused and didn't know it was hell until I saw Yama, the king of hell [Yama is the name ascribed to the King of Hell in numerous cultures throughout Asia]. His face looked like the face of a lion, his body was like a lion, but his legs were like a naga [serpent spirit]. He had a number of horns on his head. His face was very fierce, and I was extremely afraid. Trembling, I asked him his name. He replied, "I am the king of hell, the Destroyer."

The terrible, terrible lake of fire
The king of hell told me to look into the lake of fire. I looked and I saw the saffron colored robes that Buddhist monks wear in Myanmar. I looked closer and saw the shaven head of a man. When I looked at the man's face I saw it was U Zadila Kyar Ni Kan Sayadaw [the famous monk who had died in a car accident in 1983]. I asked the king of hell why my former leader was confined to this lake of torment. I said, "Why is he in this lake of fire? He was a very good teacher. He even had a teaching tape called 'Are You a Man or a Dog?' which had helped thousands of people understand that their worth as humans is far greater than the animals." The king of hell replied, "Yes, he was a good teacher but he did not believe in Jesus Christ. That's why he is in hell."

I was told to look at another person who was in the fire. I saw a man with very long hair wrapped on the left hand side of his head. He was also wearing a robe. I asked the king of hell, "Who is this man?" He replied, "This is the one you worship: Gautama [Buddha]."

I was very disturbed to see Gautama in hell. I protested, "Gautama had good ethnics and good moral character, why is he suffering in this lake of fire?" The king of hell answered me, "It doesn't matter how good he was. He is in this place because he did not believe in the Eternal God."

I then saw another man who looked like he was wearing a soldier's uniform. He had a large wound on his chest. I asked, "Who is this man?" The king of hell said, "This is Aung San, the revolutionary leader of Myanmar." I was told, "Aung San is here because he persecuted and killed Christians, but mostly because he didn't believe in Jesus Christ." In Myanmar the people have a common saying, "Soldiers never die, they live on." I was told that the legions of hell have a saying "Soldiers never die, but they go to hell forever."

I looked and saw another man in the lake of fire. He was a very tall man and he was dressed in military armor. He was also holding a sword and a shield. This man had a wound on his forehead. This man was taller than any person I have ever seen. He was six times the length between a man's elbow and the tips of his fingers when he stretches his arm out straight, plus one span of a man's fingers when he spreads out his hand. The king of hell said, "This man's name is Goliath. He is in hell because he blasphemed the Eternal God and His servant David." I was confused because I didn't know who either Goliath or David were. The king of hell said, "Goliath is recorded in the Christian Bible. You don't know him now, but when you become a Christian you will know who he is."

I was then taken to a place where I saw both rich and poor people preparing to eat their evening meals. I asked, "Who cooked the food for these people?" The king of hell replied, "The poor have to prepare their own food, but the rich people get others to cook for them." When the food had been prepared for the rich people they sat down to eat. As soon as they started a thick smoke came up. The rich people ate as fast as they could to ease their consciences. They were struggling to breath because of the smoke. They had to eat fast because they were fearful of losing their money. Their money is their god.

Another king of hell then came to me. I also saw a being whose job is to stoke the fires beneath the lake of fire, to keep it hot. This being asked me, "Are you going into the lake of fire too?" I replied, "No! I am only here to observe!" The appearance of this creature stoking the fire was very terrifying. He had ten horns on his head and a spear in his hand that had seven sharp blades coming from the end. The creature told me, "You are right. You came here just to observe. I cannot find your name here." He said, "You must now go back the way you came." He pointed me toward the desolate plain that I had first walked along before I came to the lake of fire.

The Road of Decision
I walked a long time, until I was bleeding. I was hot and in great pain. Finally, after walking for about three hours I came to a wide road. I walked along this road for some time until I came to a fork. One road, going off to the left, was wide. A smaller road went off to the right hand side. There was a signpost at the fork saying that the road to the left was for those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The smaller road to the right was for believers in Jesus.

I was interested to see where the larger road led so I started down it. There were two men walking about 300 yards ahead of me. I tried to catch up with them so I could walk with them but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't catch them up, so I turned around and went back to the fork in the road. I continued to watch these two men as they walked down the road away from me. When they reached the end of the road they were suddenly stabbed. These two men cried out in great pain! I also cried out when I saw what happened to them! I realized the bigger road ended in great danger for those who traveled down it.

Looking into Heaven
I started walking down the believers' road instead. After traveling for about one hour the surface of the road turned to pure gold. It was so pure that when I looked down I could see my own reflection perfectly. I then saw a man standing in front of me. He was wearing a white robe. I also heard beautiful singing. Oh, it was so beautiful and pure! It was much better and more meaningful than the worship we have in churches here on the earth. The man in the white robe asked me to walk with him. I asked him, "What is your name?" but he did not answer. After I asked his name six times the man answered, "I am the one who holds the key to heaven. Heaven is a very, very beautiful place. You cannot go there now but if you follow Jesus Christ you can go there after your life has finished on the earth." The man's name was Peter.

Peter then asked me to sit down and he showed me a place to the north. Peter said, "Look to the north and see God create man." I saw the Eternal God from a distance. God spoke to an angel, "Let us make man." The angel pleaded with God and said, "Please don't make man. He will do wrong and will grieve you." [In Burmese literally: "He will make you lose face."]. But God created a man named anyway. God blew on the man and the man came to life. He gave him the name "Adam". [Note: Buddhists do not believe in the Creation of the world or of man, so this experience had a significant impact on the monk].

Sent Back with a New Name
Then Peter said, "Now get up and go back to where you came from. Speak to the people who worship Buddha and who worship idols. Tell them they must go to hell if they don't change. Those who build temples and idols will also have to go to hell. Those who give offerings to the monks to earn merit for themselves with go to hell. All those who pray to the monks and call them 'Pra' [respectful title for monks] will go to hell. Those who chant and 'give life' to idols will go to hell. All those who don't believe in Jesus Christ will go to hell." Peter told me to go back to the earth and testify about the things I had seen. He also said, "You must speak in your new name. From now on you are to be called Athet Pyan Shinthaw Paulu ["Paul who Came Back to Life."].

I didn't want to go back. I wanted to go to heaven. Angels opened a book. First they looked for my childhood name (Thitpin) in the book, but they could not find it. They then looked for the name I had been given when he entered the Buddhist monk hood (U Nata Pannita Ashinthuriya) but it wasn't written in the book either. Then Peter said, "Your name is not written here, you must return and testify about Jesus to the Buddhist people."

I walked back along the gold road. Again I heard beautiful singing, the kind of which I have never heard before or since. Peter walked with me until the time I returned to the earth. He showed me a ladder that reached down from the heaven to the sky. The ladder didn't reach to the earth, but stopped in mid-air. On the ladder I saw many angels, some going up to heaven and some going down the ladder. They were very busy. I asked Peter, "Who are they?" Peter answered, "They are messengers of God. They are reporting to heaven the names of all those who believe in Jesus Christ and the names of those who don't believe." Peter then told me it was time to go back.

It is a Ghost!
The next thing I was aware of was the sound of weeping. I heard my own mother cry out, "My son, why did you leave us now?" I also heard many other people weeping. I realized I was lying in a box. I started to move. My mother and father started shouting, "He is alive! He is alive!" Other people who were farther away did not believe my parents. I then placed my hands on the sides of the box and sat upright. Many people were struck with terror. They cried out, "It is a ghost!" and ran away as fast as their legs could carry them.

Those who remained were speechless and trembling. I noticed I was sitting in smelly liquid and body fluids, enough to fill about three and a half cups. This was liquid that had come out of my stomach and my insides while my body was lying in the coffin. This is why people knew I had indeed been dead. Inside the coffin there was a type of plastic sheet fixed to the wood. This sheet is placed there to retain a corpse's liquids, because many dead bodies release much fluid like mine did.

I learned later that I was just moments away from being cremated in the flames. In Myanmar people are placed in a coffin, the lid is then nailed shut, and the whole coffin is burned. When I came back to life my mother and father were being allowed to look at my body for the very last time. Moments later the lid of my coffin would have been nailed shut and I would have been cremated!

I immediately started to explain the things I had seen and heard. People were astonished. I told them about the men I had seen in the lake of fire, and told them that only the Christians know the truth, that our forefathers and us have been deceived for thousands of years! I told them everything we believe is a lie. The people were astonished because they knew what kind of a monk I had been and how zealous I had been for the teachings of Buddha.

In Myanmar when a person dies their name and age is written on the side of the coffin. When a monk dies, the monk's name, age and the number of years he has served as a monk are written on the side of the coffin. I had already been recorded as dead but as you can see, now I am alive!

Epilogue
Since 'Paul who came back to life' experienced the above story he has remained a faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Burmese pastors have told us that he had led hundreds of other monks to faith in Christ. His testimony is obviously very uncompromising. Because of that, his message has offended many people who cannot accept there is only one Way to Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. Despite great opposition, his experiences were so real to him that he has not wavered. After many years in the Buddhist monk hood, as a strict follower of Buddhist teachings, he immediately proclaimed the Gospel of Christ following his resurrection and exhorted other monks to forsake all false gods and follow Jesus Christ with all their hearts. Before the time of his sickness and death he had no exposure to Christianity at all. Everything he learned during those three days in the grave was new to his mind.

In a bid to get his message out to as many people as possible, this modern-day Lazarus began distributing audio and video cassette tapes with his story on them. The police and Buddhist authorities in Myanmar have done their utmost to gather these tapes up and destroy them. The testimony you have just read has been translated form one of those cassette tapes. We are told it is now quite dangerous for citizens of Myanmar to be in possession of these tapes.

His fearless testimony has landed him in prison at least once, where the authorities failed in their bid to silence him. Upon his release he continued to testify of the things he saw and heard. His current whereabouts are uncertain. One Burmese informant told us he is prison and may have been killed, while another informant was told he is now released from prison and is continuing his ministry.

Translated by:
Asian Minorities Outreach
P.O.Box 901
Palestine, TX 75802
U.S.A.
E-Mail: monkst... @yahoo.com
Website: http://www.antioch.com.sg/mission/asianmo

________________________

Dear Triplegem Members,
The following message was posted to the NDE.com Website by someone called 'James' on 23rd July, 2000. (NDE = Near Death Experience). The Monk's story is identical. But the source is different. Details can be viewed at

<>

The message began with:
"Buddhist Monk visits Hell"
I believe this person died, body decay & rotten.
He was then brought to those places by the LORD to show him some
vision. <--------->

This is taken from a mission paper
"Northside Missions Update"
Northside Christian Centre
31-61 McLeans Road
Bundoora Victoria 3083
Australia

The same 'Monk's Story' followed.
Then, exchange of interesting messages took place at the NDE.com
Bulletin Board among NDE regulars, some of them are Christians, and finally, someone called 'Melvin', 'a Myanmar Buddhist', posted the following message and the discussion came to a close.

The fact that the same story has re-surfaced in another form (cassette), perhaps in a another country is a bit disturbing!

Best wishes to all our Triplegem members,
MM Lwin

...................................................................

Dear All NDE Fans,
I was alerted and requested by someone in a responsible position to check for the authenticity of the story behind this posting. After speaking to and exchanging Emails with Myanmar (Burmese) monks as well as fellow Myanmar Buddhism experts in many countries, I am 100% confident that this NDE story is completely fictitious. The reasons are given below.

(1) All Burmese experts said they had never heard of the story about this Myanmar Buddhist monk before.

(2) There is also no reports either in Burma or outside Burma of mass defection of Myanmar Buddhist Monks to join the Christian Church.

(3) The monk in the story said he became a novice at the age of 18. It is rather unusual as most boys Burmese boys join the monastic life at younger age than 18.

(4) At the age of 19, he became a monk. This is also unusual as the entry age for becoming a fully ordained monk is 20. (There is one exception when one considers the foetal life while in the mother's womb)

(5) U Zadila, also known as 'Kyar Ni Kan Sayadaw' was described as probably the most famous Buddhist Teacher of the time. That is disputable. Venerable Kyar Ni Kan Sayadaw was indeed well known and very popular as public speaker and preacher. But he was not regarded as the most distinguished monk academically and intellectually.

(6) The monk said 'Kyar Ni Kan Sayadaw' died in a car crash in 1983 . In fact Sayadaw died in Myanmar Era 1339 = about 1977. There was a 6 years discrepancy which is unacceptable as the monk said he studied under him. He should know the exact year when his teacher died. And that 1977 was also the year when he became a monk. This fact alone is enough to brand the story as a fake or invention.

(7) He said he was given a new name of 'U Nata Pannita Ashinthuriya' when he entered the monastery. In Burma, the title 'shin' was used for the novice. 'U' was never used for a novice.

(8) The monk's new name itself was unusual nor unheard of, according to the monks I consulted.

(9) Doctors diagnosed Malaria and Yellow fever. Actually the Yellow Fever was not known to exist in Burma.

(10) To recover completely after very severe malaria is most unusual especially after being discharged to die.

(11) To regain Life after the body started to decay (decompose) is impossible according to conventional medical thinking.

There are other discrepancies regarding his actual NDE. But there is no need to dig deeper. It is a complete FICTION. It is very regrettable that a Christian Church was reported to be involved in creating this dishonest practice.

We expect 'James' to say something about our findings. He is the one who reported the story to the world media. After reading his various postings to this forum, I believe that he is either a priest or a serious Christian. We welcome his reply as well as the communication from the Church authorities who wrote the Introduction to this fictitious story and published in their regular bulletin.

Best wishes to all,
Melvin,
MyanmarBuddhist@n...

___________________________________________________

http://www.ccgm.org.au/Articles/ARTICLE-0102.htm

Resurrected Burmese Monk Story Revisited
During the year 2000, numerous emails circulated on the Internet passing on the dramatic story: ‘BACK FROM THE DEAD The Remarkable Testimony of a Buddhist monk in Myanmar (Burma) who came back to life a changed man!’

With CCG Ministries’ involvement in Asia, including Myanmar, we were very interested in this story and its authenticity.

It was brought to ‘life’ on the Internet through the promotion of a Christian missionary organization then called, Asian Minorities Outreach, later changing its name to: Asia Harvest, headquartered in Texas, USA, and operating from Thailand. Its Director, Paul Hatthaway, has written several books, including ‘The Heavenly Man’.

For quite some time the ‘resurrected Buddhist monk’ story appeared on the front page of the organisation’s website. Then the actual story was removed from their website, but a remaining reference to it encouraged people to request a copy of the story by email. The following explanation for the change, was given by the group at the time:

‘A Quick Note: We have been asked by many people why this testimony is no longer available on our website. We were ordered to remove the story by the government of Singapore, who had apparently received complaints from Buddhists. As our website is housed in Singapore at the moment, we didn’t have much choice.’

AMO/Asia Harvest introduced the story with the following introduction:

‘The story that follows is simply a translation of a taped testimony from a man with a life-changing story. It is not an interview or a biography, but simply the words from the man himself. Different people react in different ways when they hear this story. Some are inspired, some skeptical, a few will mock and ridicule, while some others have even been filled with rage and anger, convinced these words are the ravings of a mad man or an elaborate deception. Some Christians have opposed the story simply because the radical and miraculous events described herein do not fit their feeble image of an Almighty God.’

We were concerned with the above wording and commented in our 2001 report that it was interesting to note the approach they took in the introduction. Anyone who questioned the story would immediately be labelled as a sceptic, a mocker or ridiculer, someone filled with rage and anger, or worse a Christian whose concept of God is feeble and who does not believe that an Almighty God can be radical and perform miracles.

This could be seen by some as a form of bullying and intimidation to dismiss any form of thought and questioning of the story. It is not a healthy or biblical approach to dealing with questions about such a dramatic story, nor does it encourage people to use their minds.

The resurrected monk’s story was quite a dramatic tale and it has impressed many people. It was even reported in the well-known Christian Singaporean magazine: IMPACT (June/July 2000, p.45). It continued to be circulated and passed on through emails for some time.

But was it true? If it was, it SHOULD be circulated - whatever the consequences. But what if it was NOT true? Should it then continue to be circulated never-the-less? We believe not!

It should be noted that there have been several versions of the story circulating. One version, which was circulating in March and April of 2000, began with an ‘Extract’:

‘Myanmar: Buddhist monk raised from the dead - 300 monks turn to Jesus. “In 1998, a Buddhist monk died. A few days later, his funeral was held, at which he was to be cremated. From the smell, it was obvious that his body had started to decompose - he was very clearly dead!” according to the report from missions agency Asian Minorities Outreach. “We have attempted to verify this report which reached us from a number of sources, and are now convinced that it is accurate,” they write.

Hundreds of monks and relatives of the dead man attended the funeral. Just as the body was about to be burned, the dead monk suddenly sat up, shouting ‘It’s a lie! I saw our ancestors burning and being tortured in some sort of fire. I also saw Buddha and many other Buddhist holy men. They were all in a sea of fire!’ ‘We must listen to the Christians,’ he continued emphatically, ‘they’re the only ones who know the truth!’

The events shocked the whole region. Over 300 monks became Christians and started to study the Bible. The resurrected man continued to warn everyone to believe in Jesus, because he is the only true God. Tapes of the monk’s report were distributed throughout Myanmar. The Buddhist hierarchy and the government were soon alarmed, and they arrested the monk. He has not been seen since and it is feared that he was killed to keep him silent. It is now a serious crime to listen to the tapes, because the government wants to dampen the sensation.’

On Sunday 19th November 2000, CCG Ministries’ Director, Adrian van Leen, interviewed and spoke with a man who claimed to be the ‘resurrected’ Paul in a hotel function room in Yangon in the company of four Myanmar Christian leaders.

That interview raised serious questions as to the authenticity of the story under consideration.

Our detailed review of the interview with the man claiming to be Paul, the ‘resurrected’ monk, was published as a report, sent to Asia Harvest, and placed on our website. After emailing a copy of the report, we also sent a ‘hard’ copy of the TACL containing the printed article, to Asia Harvest. In the latter part of 2003 we received the following email from Asia Harvest:

Greetings!
I’m sure you will remember our communications a year or two back regarding the story of the Buddhist monk in Myanmar who came back to life. We were the ones who first had his testimony translated and published on our website.

Then you travelled to Myanmar and met with a man regarding this story. Your graphic report of that interview, his seemingly unstable mind and completely inconsistent testimony left us with no option but to withdraw the story from our website and offer our deep apologies. The last thing we want to do is discredit the name of our Lord Jesus by publishing any story that is untrue. I wrote to you of our intentions and you accurately reported,

[After Asia Harvest received a copy of this report they removed all references to the story from their website and stopped sending out email transcripts of the claimed resurrection account. They will be making some statement regarding their initial endorsement of the story. When this is available we will gladly append it to this report.]

However, when we received your magazine article which carried a picture of the man you interviewed, we showed it to two Burmese pastors who met the original “Paul” in Myanmar and they immediately said this was the wrong man! Later a missionary who lives here in Thailand but who works in Myanmar also said the man you interviewed looks nothing like the monk, being much younger.

More information since has revealed that there are actually three or four different people in Myanmar who claim they were monks who rose from the dead! Our contacts in Yangon (Rangoon) say that two of these are completely untrustworthy men, with little evidence of a genuine conversion to Christ. One of these is the young man you interviewed. No wonder his birth-date and other key facts were different from the testimony we published - it was not the same person! It almost seems that Satan sent along these counterfeits with false testimonies and a poor witness in order to discredit the original testimony.

Can we absolutely guarantee the story we published is true - of course not. Only God and the person involved can know what happened in such a story. We stated this when we first released the transcript of his testimony. But as far as can be verified, we have yet to be convinced that this testimony is false. We have been told it now seems likely that the monk Paul was killed. He was in hiding for more than 12 months and has not been heard of since. Another ex-monk who lives in Shan State, who also converted to Christ through miraculous circumstances is also being hunted by the authorities in a bid to silence him.

In the interests of fairness, would you be willing to publish our comments in this email with the story that is on your website?

God bless you,

Asia Harvest

Unfortunately, this update from Asia Harvest still fails to answer many of the questions and issues CCG Ministries raised in our report initially.

Our report had already acknowledged that there were several people in Myanmar (Burma) claiming to be the ‘resurrected’ monk: Further complications have arisen with this whole saga. According to the beliefs of some people in Myanmar (or some with friends and/or relatives in Myanmar), several different people supposedly, or apparently, are claiming to be the resurrected Buddhist monk - at least an older man and a not-so-balanced young man.

Even if we completely remove the questionable ‘Paul’ interviewed by CCG Ministries’ Director and several Myanmar Pastors, we are still left with serious questions about the whole story anyway. These were made clear in our 2001 report and remain unanswered by the recent comments from Asia harvest.

Apart from the contradictions made by [the suspect] Paul in front of witnesses, there are still serious questions about the content of his [the ‘original ‘Paul’] supposed visions or visit to hell and heaven, as well as questions about editorial comments made by Asian Minorities Outreach/Asia Harvest.

AMO/Asia Harvest has made statements about Paul being radically transformed and having a 180-degree shift in his life, and him continuing to be a fearless witness for Christ, of him being persecuted, scorned by family, friends and colleagues, and facing death for his unwillingness to compromise. But some Myanmar Christian leaders have asked (as we do also) on what do they base this, apart from his say so [or the say-so of unnamed pastors whose comments seem in clear conflict with that of the majority of pastors – especially from known established churches and denominations]? What evidence do they have?

Statements that [the ‘original’] Paul had been arrested and imprisoned - probably several times, not seen since, and that it was feared that he had been killed to keep him silent - are all highly emotive. While claims of imprisonment in such a situation are plausible and even probable, they remain unsubstantiated.

AMO/Asia Harvest has stated that the story was first told them by several Burmese church leaders, and that since being initially told they ‘have attempted to verify this report which reached us from a number of sources, and are now convinced that it is accurate.’ IMPACT Magazine reported that a spokesman for AMO/Asia Harvest stated: ‘We believe it to be true as there are many witnesses to these events.’

CCG Ministries’ Director, Adrian van Leen, before, especially during, and after his visit to Myanmar in November 2000, [and subsequent visits in 2001 and 2002] has spoken to a number of [numerous] Myanmar Christian leaders - including a number who are involved in inter-church/inter-denominational work, as well as leaders of several denominations. He spoke with leaders from Yangon and across Myanmar who attended a conference in Bago, and also Christian leaders in Mandalay and a regional township. Many of these leaders from across varying denominations had contact with other Christian leaders across the country.

No one was able to give ANY form of authentication to the story. A number of leaders, including those who had been in Christian leadership in Mandalay, knew of no evidence to confirm any part of the story. Some of the Myanmar Christian leaders would very much like to know who the ‘several Burmese church leaders’ are that AMO/Asia Harvest refers to as their sources for this story.

In fact, it was pointed out very clearly that, had the story been true, especially had there been a number of Buddhist monks converted to Christianity - especially as many as 300 and very much so if there were as many as 7,000 - the news would have spread rapidly. While the government-controlled media might have tried to suppress such news - the Christians and churches (particularly in the Mandalay area) would not have been able - nor have wanted to - suppress such news. It would have spread rapidly and widely through the churches. The Buddhist community would also have spread the story - though for different reasons.

The claim that ’there are many witnesses to these events’ is also disputed by Myanmar Christian leaders, who have stated that they had never met anyone who had been a direct primary witness - nor anyone who had personally met a direct witness to these events… The reality is that in Myanmar itself no one has been able to find any witnesses or any evidence whatever, to support the story of the resurrected Paul.

It was also pointed out that [the ‘original’] Paul’s claim to have seen Aung San, the revolutionary leader of Myanmar (father of current opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi) in hell ‘because he persecuted and killed Christians, but mostly because he didn’t believe in Jesus Christ’ was completely without foundation. He is a well known figure in Burmese/Myanmar thinking and history - and there is no evidence at all that he persecuted any Christians, let alone killed any.

AMO/Asia Harvest has invited ‘Christian believers to judge it [Paul’s resurrection story] according to Scripture.’

As one senior Myanmar pastor pointed out, the story and description of hell given by Paul, is itself contrary to Scripture. Paul’s story is also in conflict with the story Jesus told in the account of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). When carefully examined it is also in conflict with the comments of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 - in particular where that Paul was able to name eye witnesses to the resurrection of Christ - and acknowledged at the time that some were still living - in other words, he was able to produce witnesses who could testify to the authenticity of his claims.

Pastors in Myanmar are still asking for real evidence and living witnesses to the claimed miracle with whom they can discuss and verify the story. So far, the story’s authenticity remains with the claims made by Asia Harvest.

The story of the ‘resurrected Paul’ is known throughout much of Myanmar - and his tape has circulated (in several versions). Hardly anyone in Myanmar - especially amongst Christian leaders - has accepted or believed the story. There is just nothing to back it up.

Far from the ‘resurrected monk’ story providing a ‘fearless and faithful witness to Jesus Christ, whose testimony is converting Buddhists, strengthening the church or bringing glory to God’s name’, Myanmar pastor have told our Director that it has brought fear and suspicion to many Christians in the country. We concluded our 2001 report with the comment: Whatever the truth behind this sad saga, most Christians, and most pastors and church leaders in Myanmar, are not taking this story seriously and see little value in it for the growth of the Christian community in that country.

From the evidence we have been able to examine, including the claims and content of the story itself, and all the discussions with Pastors and others in Myanmar, we believe it would have been wiser for the story not to have been published and circulated.

We believe that ‘miracle stories’ which cannot be adequately substantiated ought to be treated with caution – especially if those stories, or significant parts of those stories, do not conform to Scripture. Lives continue to be changed by the resurrected and living Jesus Christ – sometimes dramatically, sometimes quietly – the substance of those changed lives are quiet miracles that are often clear and undisputed. They continue to honour Christ and encourage others.

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Taken from http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/12/14/when_jesus_met_buddha/ for the intellectual discussion purposely. Not for commercial gain

When Jesus met Buddha
Something remarkable happened when evangelists for two great religions crossed paths more than 1,000 years ago: they got along
By Philip Jenkins
December 14, 2008

While few mainline Christians would put the matter in such confrontational terms, any religion claiming exclusive access to truth has real difficulties reconciling other great faiths into its cosmic scheme. Most Christian churches hold that Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and many also feel an obligation to carry that message to the world's unbelievers. But this creates a fundamental conflict with the followers of famous spiritual figures like Mohammed or Buddha, who preached radically different messages. Drawing on a strict interpretation of the Bible, some Christians see these rival faiths as not merely false, but as deliberate traps set by the forces of evil.

Being intolerant of other religions - consigning them to hell, in fact - may be bad enough in its own right, but it increasingly has real- world consequences. As trade and technology shrink the globe, so different religions come into ever-closer contact with one another, and the results can be bloody: witness the apocalyptic assaults in Mumbai. In such a world, teaching different faiths to acknowledge one another's claims, to live peaceably together side by side, stops being a matter of good manners and becomes a prerequisite for human survival.

Over the past 30 years, the Roman Catholic Church has faced repeated battles over this question of Christ's uniqueness, and has cracked down on thinkers who have made daring efforts to accommodate other world religions. While the Christian dialogue with Islam has attracted most of the headlines, it is the encounters with Hinduism and especially Buddhism that have stirred the most controversy within the church. Sri Lankan theologians Aloysius Pieris and Tissa Balasuriya have had many run-ins with Vatican critics, and, more recently, the battle has come to American shores. Last year, the Vatican ordered an investigation of Georgetown University's Peter Phan, a Jesuit theologian whose main sin, in official eyes, has been to treat the Buddhism of his Vietnamese homeland as a parallel path to salvation.

Following the ideas of Pope Benedict XVI, though, the church refuses to give up its fundamental belief in the unique role of Christ. In a widely publicized open letter to Italian politician Marcello Pera, Pope Benedict declared that "an inter-religious dialogue in the strict sense of the term is not possible." By all means, he said, we should hold conversations with other cultures, but not in a way that acknowledges other religions as equally valid. While the Vatican does not of course see the Buddha as a demon, it does fear the prospect of syncretism, the dilution of Christian truth in an unholy mixture with other faiths.

Beyond doubt, this view places Benedict in a strong tradition of Christianity as it has developed in Europe since Roman times. But there is another, ancient tradition, which suggests a very different course. Europe's is not the only version of the Christian faith, nor is it necessarily the oldest heir of the ancient church. For more than 1,000 years, other quite separate branches of the church established thriving communities across Asia, and in their sheer numbers, these churches were comparable to anything Europe could muster at the time. These Christian bodies traced their ancestry back not through Rome, but directly to the original Jesus movement of ancient Palestine. They moved across India, Central Asia, and China, showing no hesitation to share - and learn from - the other great religions of the East.

Just how far these Christians were prepared to go is suggested by a startling symbol that appeared on memorials and stone carvings in both southern India and coastal China during the early Middle Ages. We can easily see that the image depicts a cross, but it takes a moment to realize that the base of the picture - the root from which the cross is growing - is a lotus flower, the symbol of Buddhist enlightenment.

In modern times, most mainstream churches would condemn such an amalgam as a betrayal of the Christian faith, an example of multiculturalism run wild. Yet concerns about syncretism did not bother these early Asian Christians, who called themselves Nasraye, Nazarenes, like Jesus's earliest followers. They were comfortable associating themselves with the other great monastic and mystical religion of the time, and moreover, they believed that both lotus and cross carried similar messages about the quest for light and salvation. If these Nazarenes could find meaning in the lotus-cross, then why can't modern Catholics, or other inheritors of the faith Jesus inspired?

Many Christians are coming to terms with just how thoroughly so many of their fundamental assumptions will have to be rethought as their faith today becomes a global religion. Even modern church leaders who know how rapidly the church is expanding in the global South tend to see European values and traditions as the indispensable norm, in matters of liturgy and theology as much as music and architecture.

Yet the reality is that Christianity has from its earliest days been an intercontinental faith, as firmly established in Asia and Africa as in Europe itself. When we broaden our scope to look at the faith that by 800 or so stretched from Ireland to Korea, we see the many different ways in which Christians interacted with other believers, in encounters that reshaped both sides. At their best, these meetings allowed the traditions not just to exchange ideas but to intertwine in productive and enriching ways, in an awe-inspiring chapter of Christian history that the Western churches have all but forgotten.

To understand this story, we need to reconfigure our mental maps. When we think of the growth of Christianity, we think above all of Europe. We visualize a movement growing west from Palestine and Syria and spreading into Greece and Italy, and gradually into northern regions. Europe is still the center of the Catholic Church, of course, but it was also the birthplace of the Protestant denominations that split from it. For most of us, even speaking of the "Eastern Church" refers to another group of Europeans, namely to the Orthodox believers who stem from the eastern parts of the continent. English Catholic thinker Hilaire Belloc once proclaimed that "Europe is the Faith; and the Faith is Europe."

But in the early centuries other Christians expanded east into Asia and south into Africa, and those other churches survived for the first 1,200 years or so of Christian history. Far from being fringe sects, these forgotten churches were firmly rooted in the oldest traditions of the apostolic church. Throughout their history, these Nazarenes used Syriac, which is close to Jesus' own language of Aramaic, and they followed Yeshua, not Jesus. No other church - not Roman Catholics, not Eastern Orthodox - has a stronger claim to a direct inheritance from the earliest Jesus movement.

The most stunningly successful of these eastern Christian bodies was the Church of the East, often called the Nestorian church. While the Western churches were expanding their influence within the framework of the Roman Empire, the Syriac-speaking churches colonized the vast Persian kingdom that ruled from Syria to Pakistan and the borders of China. From their bases in Mesopotamia - modern Iraq - Nestorian Christians carried out their vast missionary efforts along the Silk Route that crossed Central Asia. By the eighth century, the Church of the East had an extensive structure across most of central Asia and China, and in southern India. The church had senior clergy - metropolitans - in Samarkand and Bokhara, in Herat in Afghanistan. A bishop had his seat in Chang'an, the imperial capital of China, which was then the world's greatest superpower.

When Nestorian Christians were pressing across Central Asia during the sixth and seventh centuries, they met the missionaries and saints of an equally confident and expansionist religion: Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhists too wanted to take their saving message to the world, and launched great missions from India's monasteries and temples. In this diverse world, Buddhist and Christian monasteries were likely to stand side by side, as neighbors and even, sometimes, as collaborators. Some historians believe that Nestorian missionaries influenced the religious practices of the Buddhist religion then developing in Tibet. Monks spoke to monks.

In presenting their faith, Christians naturally used the cultural forms that would be familiar to Asians. They told their stories in the forms of sutras, verse patterns already made famous by Buddhist missionaries and teachers. A stunning collection of Jesus Sutras was found in caves at Dunhuang, in northwest China. Some Nestorian writings draw heavily on Buddhist ideas, as they translate prayers and Christian services in ways that would make sense to Asian readers. In some texts, the Christian phrase "angels and archangels and hosts of heaven" is translated into the language of buddhas and devas.

One story in particular suggests an almost shocking degree of collaboration between the faiths. In 782, the Indian Buddhist missionary Prajna arrived in Chang'an, bearing rich treasures of sutras and other scriptures. Unfortunately, these were written in Indian languages. He consulted the local Nestorian bishop, Adam, who had already translated parts of the Bible into Chinese. Together, Buddhist and Christian scholars worked amiably together for some years to translate seven copious volumes of Buddhist wisdom. Probably, Adam did this as much from intellectual curiosity as from ecumenical good will, and we can only guess about the conversations that would have ensued: Do you really care more about relieving suffering than atoning for sin? And your monks meditate like ours do?

These efforts bore fruit far beyond China. Other residents of Chang'an at this very time included Japanese monks, who took these very translations back with them to their homeland. In Japan, these works became the founding texts of the great Buddhist schools of the Middle Ages. All the famous movements of later Japanese history, including Zen, can be traced to one of those ancient schools and, ultimately - incredibly - to the work of a Christian bishop.

By the 12th century, flourishing churches in China and southern India were using the lotus-cross. The lotus is a superbly beautiful flower that grows out of muck and slime. No symbol could better represent the rise of the soul from the material, the victory of enlightenment over ignorance, desire, and attachment. For 2,000 years, Buddhist artists have used the lotus to convey these messages in countless paintings and sculptures. The Christian cross, meanwhile, teaches a comparable lesson, of divine victory over sin and injustice, of the defeat of the world. Somewhere in Asia, Yeshua's forgotten followers made the daring decision to integrate the two emblems, which still today forces us to think about the parallels between the kinds of liberation and redemption offered by each faith.

Christianity, for much of its history, was just as much an Asian religion as Buddhism. Asia's Christian churches survived for more than a millennium, and not until the 10th century, halfway through Christian history, did the number of Christians in Europe exceed that in Asia.

What ultimately obliterated the Asian Christians were the Mongol invasions, which spread across Central Asia and the Middle East from the 1220s onward. From the late 13th century, too, the world entered a terrifying era of climate change, of global cooling, which severely cut food supplies and contributed to mass famine. The collapse of trade and commerce crippled cities, leaving the world much poorer and more vulnerable. Intolerant nationalism wiped out Christian communities in China, while a surging militant Islam destroyed the churches of Central Asia.

But awareness of this deep Christian history contributes powerfully to understanding the future of the religion, as much as its past. For long centuries, Asian Christians kept up neighborly relations with other faiths, which they saw not as deadly rivals but as fellow travelers on the road to enlightenment. Their worldview differed enormously from the norms that developed in Europe.

To take one example, we are used to the idea of Christianity operating as the official religion of powerful states, which were only too willing to impose a particular orthodoxy upon their subjects. Yet when we look at the African and Asian experience, we find millions of Christians whose normal experience was as minorities or even majorities within nations dominated by some other religion. Struggling to win hearts and minds, leading churches had no option but to frame the Christian message in the context of non-European intellectual traditions. Christian thinkers did present their message in the categories of Buddhism - and Taoism, and Confucianism - and there is no reason why they could not do so again. When modern scholars like Peter Phan try to place Christianity in an Asian and Buddhist context, they are resuming a task begun at least 1,500 years ago.

Perhaps, in fact, we are looking at our history upside down. Some day, future historians might look at the last few hundred years of Euro- American dominance within Christianity and regard it as an unnatural interlude in a much longer story of fruitful interchange between the great religions.

Consider the story told by Timothy, a patriarch of the Nestorian church. Around 800, he engaged in a famous debate with the Muslim caliph in Baghdad, a discussion marked by reason and civility on both sides. Imagine, Timothy said, that we are all in a dark house, and someone throws a precious pearl in the midst of a pile of ordinary stones. Everyone scrabbles for the pearl, and some think they've found it, but nobody can be sure until day breaks.

In the same way, he said, the pearl of true faith and wisdom had fallen into the darkness of this transitory world; each faith believed that it alone had found the pearl. Yet all he could claim - and all the caliph could say in response - was that some faiths thought they had enough evidence to prove that they were indeed holding the real pearl, but the final truth would not be known in this world.

Knowing other faiths firsthand grants believers an enviable sophistication, founded on humility. We could do a lot worse than to learn from what we sometimes call the Dark Ages.

Philip Jenkins is Edwin Erle Sparks professor of the humanities at Penn State University. He is author of "The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia -- and How It Died," published last month.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/12/14/when_jesus_met_buddha/



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