Vast grasslands. Vast sunrises. Vast lostness. Mongolia is the land where less than 1% of the population is Christian. This land is occupied with natives who simply don’t have enough missionaries who can present to them a clear gospel presentation. The job at hand is daunting.
During my time spent in this country I had the opportunity to walk alongside a missionary couple that was engaging the culture in whatever way that they possibly could. The work that we were able to accomplish is because of their strategic planning that they diligently worked on. Their insight and wisdom is truly unprecedented. Due to the unknown and logistical side of this particular mission trip I enlisted a trusted friend, Chris Morgan as my teammate for our mission to Mongolia. This is a short report on what all God accomplished on this trip.
Many issues will arise when you try to minister to any group of people in a particular setting. While meeting and conducting bible studies around the slums of the city, we were constantly faced with one major logistical issue: transportation. What would be a five-minute drive in my city was a twenty-five minute drive of mass chaos. As our missionary on the field told us, “Americans don’t really understand the necessity of the car horn.” This simple issue can really only be appreciated when we come to the realization that the modernization of the world is not just to financially help ourselves but also the ministry of the church. Individuals who make effective roads can often be an overlooked commodity for the spread of our faith, but it has been vital for the advancement of the gospel. It is at times like these we can truly understand what Paul said when he stated, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
So as we were tossed around in our vehicle for hours upon hours we would eventually arrive at different native's house that our Mongolian friends had built relationships with. Upon entering their ger (refer to article cover picture) we would often be met by a welcome and the cultural “milk-tea.” As the name says, this beverage is a combination of both tea and milk. But do not be fooled as the final ingredient is a generous amount of salt. I am still trying to understand how this taste has developed in this land, but we would graciously and happily partake and listen in through our translator at the small talk.
After refreshments our Mongolian friends would introduce us as Americans who came to share with them the good news. This would begin our time where I would share my testimony and then the basic understanding of the gospel derived from 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…"
This was the foundation upon which we would share the basic understanding of the gospel. My partner, Chris, would then share with them a bible story. His most common story came from the Gospel of Luke where he explained the story of the demon possessed man named Legion (Luke 8:26-39). In a culture where spiritual warfare is greatly overlooked, Americans do not regard this particular story enough. But the Mongolians relate with its lessons and principles clearly.
“To be a Mongol is to be Tibetan Buddhist.”
In conversation we were often met with interested stares and open ears. The interest was never a real problem from these individuals as much as trying to get them to understand that Christianity is not just for the West, but for all mankind. Some responses to our message Chris and I wrote down throughout our time in Mongolia. Below are a few:
“Why did God make Creation, yet it dies. We die?”
“Is there a way to be both Shammanist and Christian?”
“I have heard of the Christians and all the good that they do.”
“I have never thought of making a ‘decision’ about Jesus.”
“I would like to go to America, they have basketball”
“I have heard of this Jesus, but others say that he didn’t do what you said…”
“Did you come up with this message?”
“Why do you believe all are ‘sinners?’ What about the children?”
“The different countries have different ways of viewing God. Mongolia’s way is Tibetan Buddhism.”
To be a Mongol is to be Tibetan Buddhist. This is the spirit for the majority of the land. Essentially every mountaintop has a stack of rocks placed upon it with a pole sticking out of it. Some blue cloth would be blowing in the wind symbolizing the location for worship. These places of worship were erected to honor the spirit that lived there. These animistic forms of worship were often intertwined with the Tibetan Buddhism of the land.
This was the basic layout that we had during our time in Mongolia. The good news here is young. The oldest Christians are normally in their mid-forties and they are the pioneer Christians in this nation.
The Church in Mongolia is dealing with many issues that the Early Church faced in the New Testament. False teachers are rampant. The prosperity gospel is common. The understanding of theology is low. People are without hope. This nation is very much unreached and laborers are needed in unimaginable ways. This is nothing unique to the nation of Mongolia for many nations in the East have people groups who are less than 2% Christian. May we who are in the West put on a lens by which we can engage our communities and the nations that so desperately need more witnesses.
"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?"
- 1John 3:17
19- gospel presentations around the capital city.
3- 12 hour back and forth drives to the country side for outreach and well drilling.
1- sermon at a local church plant
6- gospel presentations in the country-side
4- legitimate proclamations of faith in Jesus.
Without the support of my church, various friends, and the strength of my wife, none of this would have been possible. May we continue to push forward to advance the fame of Jesus.
Caleb Rawls – is the pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi, and husband to Taylor Rawls. Together they strive to lead the church to reach out to their community and world. And yes, they have a dog named Tiglath-Pilesar.