I once was a Buddhist nun

Ioncewasabuddhistnun Esther Baker grew up in a home hostile to Christianity and the church. A passionate seeker after the truth, she followed a passing interest in several faiths and worldviews, before finally arriving at Buddhism. Her journey took her to various parts of Asia leading her eventually to ordination as a Buddhist nun in an English monastery.  It was there that God started to make himself known to Esther, stirring her spirit to seek him.

It was Good Friday, and suddenly, for the first time in my life, I really wanted to know what had happened to Jesus that day. It wasn’t rational; I can’t explain why I suddenly wanted to know.

God continued to bring people across her path who, each in their own small way, nudged Esther towards him. An encounter with some Christians protesting outside an inter-faith gathering at Canterbury Cathedral began to sow seeds of doubt about whether Buddhism was really the truth. She started helping an elderly Anglican nun who lived in the village. A visitor spoke enthusiastically about a programme she had seen on TV in which a lady called Jackie Pullinger prayed for drug addicts in the name of Jesus and saw them released from addiction. One night, the abbott of the monastery showed a video of this programme. The impact on Esther was almost overwhelming and all the more remarkable in that no one else in the monastery seemed to have been moved by it. She felt devastated and confused with a battle going on in her soul.

One sleepless night, in desperation, I called out to God. “God, if you are real, please come.” And God came! After I had prayed I felt a sense of peace and well-being flooding my heart and body. This was the first time I had invited God to touch my own life, invited him in and asked for his help. I knew he had answered my prayer.

Over a period of several months, during which time she was able to spend more time with Christians, Esther’s inner turmoil resolved to a new commitment to Christ, and the knowledge that she needed to disrobe as a nun and leave Buddhism. In time God led her to work with Jackie Pullinger in Hong Kong, ministering in exactly the same way that she had first seen on the video in the monastery. She now works in Thailand, a country steeped in Buddhism, where she is involved in a ministry of healing and discipleship helping to build the church and, in her own words, “helping to make the bride of Christ more beautiful and more ready for him.”

Esther writes in a straightforward and very readable style, her own story effectively interwoven with clear teaching about Theravada Buddhism and Christianity. This is a book about the impact that these two faiths have had on one person’s life – the testimony of a journey and a search for truth. It is as honest about the Buddhism that she abandoned as the Christianity that she embraced and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to someone who was dabbling in Buddhism but still searching, or, for that matter, anyone interested to know whether God is real.

I once was a Buddhist nun – Esther Baker: IVP

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