In the 13th century, the Mongol tribes, united under Genghis Khan, thundered across the steppes of Central Asia and terrorized the known world. In a short time, these fierce horsemen had carved out an empire dwarfing those of Cyrus and Caesar combined. The Mongol empire was not to endure for long. The Mongols embraced Tibetan Buddhism and became a backward hinterland ruled by a succession of Chinese dynasties. In 1921, a Communist revolution turned Mongolia into the first “independent” Soviet satellite. All missionaries were expelled before any church had been planted, and the darkness of Communism settled over this “closed” country.
Mongolia was one of the very few countries on earth with no church and no known national believers. After 70 years of being sealed off from the outside world, Mongolia gained freedom and independence along with other Soviet Bloc nations in early 1990, and Satan’s defenses against the gospel came crashing down. Creative strategies sparked the beginnings.
A team of Native American believers entered Mongolia as tourists in 1990. Their visit generated a great deal of interest among Mongols and even hit the national press. By the end of their second visit in 1991, they had publicly baptized 36 new Mongol believers. The spiritual landscape of Mongolia would never be the same.
As efforts to reach out progressed numbers of believers began to grow in different cities. The disciples were quickly organized into groups that met in homes. They gathered for prayer, fellowship and teaching in an atmosphere of support and accountability. From the very beginning they were taught to obey the simple commands of the Lord Jesus Christ. They learned to love God and each other, to pray, give generously, repent and believe, baptize, celebrate the Lord’s Supper and to teach others to love and obey Jesus.
After some time, these smaller groups began larger gatherings, the “Celebration Service,” on a monthly basis to bring the house groups together for corporate worship and fellowship. In one town, after one year, the number of baptized Christ followers had grown to 120—almost all teenage girls! This was not the multi-generational church of entire families church planters were dreaming of – it was half a youth group.
There was a great divide between the youthful, urban circle of friends and the family-oriented heart of traditional Mongolian society. The three cities of Mongolia were a relatively recent and imposed urban social structure overlaid by Communism upon a nomadic tribal society—and nomadic social structure was seen by all as the more legitimate and authentic of the two. Even early converts had the impression the gospel wasn’t relevant for “real Mongols.”
Even though Mongolia had become a 50% urbanized society, to the Mongol understanding, “real Mongols” are horse-riding pastoralists and gher (traditional round felt tents) dwellers. An urban teen growing up in an apartment building who has never even sat on a horse is not an authentic Mongolian. The gospel would be seen as just a foreign import, like Coca Cola, if it were only embraced by city dwellers. If Jesus were going to “become a Mongolian,” He would need to enter into the lives of nomadic herders.
As God heard prayers for healing among ‘real Mongols’, the news spread like wildfire and the church was flooded with growth from every age group and segment of the city. The urbanized youth were especially surprised that “real Mongols” were coming to faith.
Pray for the ongoing discipling among all Mongols as the Church has grown rapidly. Mature disciples rooted in Christ in an ongoing work of God.