Wow! This is an amazing country. Where to start?
The people here are fun, friendly, very intelligent. We have been welcomed so warmly by them.
Other impressions: Population less than 3 million in a nation the size of California, so very uncrowded. Wild and beautiful landscape. Yaks and camels. Cold!!
The country was under Russian rule for seventy years. When they left in 1990, there were only five Christians in the country. There are now around 50,000! This means that virtually everyone is a first generation Christian. The nation opened to outsiders in 1991 and we have met several who found the Lord in the next couple of years. Sadly, Christians have not just brought the Gospel to this nation–they have brought denominations too.
There are some incredible stories. For example, we were talking with one man yesterday who, in the early 90s was given a New Testament by a Canadian family, He read it but didn't understand it. They spoke no Mongolian, so introduced him to a Mongolian Christian family who led him to the Lord, Over the next few weeks, he read his New Testament (this time understanding it) from 7am to 1pm every day, more than thirty times in all. At the time he was working as a jeweler, but gave this up. His family didn't like the turn his life was taking so gave him the choice of giving up his new found faith or being thrown out of the family. He chose Jesus.
From his reading of the Gospels he understood that he was to go. He didn't know where to go so he found a ride, telling the person he couldn't pay for the ride but would entertain him with stories on the way. So he spent the journey telling him the stories he had read in the New Testament. He found out where the person was going, so when he was asked which town he wanted to go to, told him the same place. When asked who he would stay with, he confessed that he didn't know anyone else in there, so the driver invited him to stay with his family. When he got to the family he told them stories too and they invited in many of their friends and neighbors to hear the stories. He offered to pray for anyone who needed prayer, and many became Christians. He then went to other places and did the same.
All this, just from reading the New Testament! No discipleship or any other training.
We have been sharing six to eight hours per day for the last four or five days with a group of church leaders from across the nation. What a privilege to have the opportunity to shape an emerging church.
Yesterday evening, we went to the home of a Mongolian musician who played about ten of his traditional Mongolian instruments for us. Wonderful!