Being school holiday time, one of my two teenage sons and his best friend met up at the main shopping mall here in Toowoomba (context: a conservative regional city, pop. 100 000, which serves mainly as a service centre for a large and productive rural hinterland) today to pass some time and see a movie. He returned home to report that while sitting in the Food Court having lunch they had a conversation with some Buddhist monks who my son described as 'missionaries'. It seems likely they are connected with the 'Pure Land Buddhist Learning College' located not far from the city centre in what was once a Presbyterian church which they've extended into a campus by buying several neighbouring properties. The brown robed monks and nuns are a common site around the city and I've seen them at the university too - they seem to come here from Taiwan for a short stay, much like the American Mormon missionaries of a previous era. A sign of the times, no doubt.
I've heard many an expert on 'world religions' state that Christianity and Islam are the only 'missionary religions' (usually said with a sneer and a warning about how dangerous missionary zeal is), but if 'Pure Land Buddhists' are truly 'missionary' it gives the lie to that statement. It would be worthwhile looking into the soteriology of this group to see what makes them different from other Buddhist sects. What could be gleaned from a study of their religion that might serve as a contact point for proclamation of the Christian Gospel, a la Paul in Athens? 'Men and women of Pure Land Buddhism, I perceive that you are very religious...'