On 27th December 2015, explosives were thrown into the stove chimney of a Kazakh house church in Mongolia, just days after the local church had celebrated Christmas.
Large numbers of people had attended the church’s Christmas services and local Christians believe that this angered some of the local Muslims and led them to carry out the attack.
Kazakhs in Mongolia are mostly Muslims and they make up around 5% of the Mongolian population, making them the largest non-Mongolian ethnic group in the country.
Mongolian Kazakhs live mostly in the far-western Bayan-Ölgiy province, which borders China and Russia, and is close to Kazakhstan. Here, Mongolian Kazakhs constitute around 80% of the population and are strongly influenced by Islamic traditions.
In Ölgii, capital of Bayan-Ölgiy province, the mosque is placed at an unusual angle within the city, orienting the building exactly towards Mecca. The city houses a madrassa (Islamic religious school) and various Turkish and Saudi organisations.
Mongolia, as a whole, is majority Buddhist, although there is a growing Muslim influence in the country’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar. Here, with the help of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency and other Muslim organisations, the city’s first Islamic Cultural centre was opened in 2010.
The Church in Mongolia is small but growing, with some estimates putting the number of Christians at over 4% of the country’s population. In Ulaanbaatar, the first group of Christian believers was formed 16 years ago. Today, there are four Christian groups, numbering around 60 converts in total.
Converts to Christianity endure a great deal of persecution and many Christians have been arrested by police, while local Muslims and police repeatedly disrupt Christian gatherings and threaten to burn their houses.
According to the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), some churches have reported great difficulty in obtaining the official registration that is required for religious groups to function legally.
- Give thanks for the growth of the Mongolian Church over the last 16 years.
- Pray for Christians in Mongolia, as they face growing pressure against them from the government and from local Muslim communities. Pray that the church will continue to grow in the face of opposition, and be a positive witness in this nation.
- Pray for protection over Christians in Mongolia, and their homes and churches.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit in Mongolia, that many will encounter Christ and come to know His life, love and grace.
Psalm 86 vs 9: “All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”