Taking the Gospel to
the Ends of the Earth
After a period of about 65 years of communist rule, Christian missionaries entered Mongolia in 1991 and estimated that only around four Christians existed in the entire population. They had their work cut out for them! Good thing the success of their efforts didn’t rely entirely on their own efforts, but on the power and goodness of the gospel message and the Holy Spirit. Now, several decades later, there are around 70,000 Christians in Mongolia and Asian Outreach church planting activities are instrumental in growing this number further. The majority of Mongolian Christians live in the main cities, however much of Mongolia’s population live rurally and have not yet heard the gospel message. Asian Outreach Mongolia (Genesis) teams have recently accepted the request from churches in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, to assist them with establishing churches in the geographically isolated (and predominantly Buddhist) counties in the Khangai Mountain area.
So what is it like heading into such territory? We spoke to Tuguldur (Tuugii) Tsogtbaatar (41 years old) who pastors Bethany church and lives with his wife and two boys, 6 and 11 years, in Ulaanbaatar city. Tuugii’s 20 years experience pastoring and church-planting in Mongolia make him a wealth of insights.
How did you come to accept the Christian faith for yourself and get involved in ministry?
In 1993 one of my classmates at school shared the gospel with me on the phone and invited me to her church. I told her I would come but didn’t. She accused me of being a liar so the next time she invited me, I went. Two things really touched my heart from that first church service – how kind, friendly and hospitable the people were and the worship songs. I went away with a voice in my heart saying “this is what you’ve been seeking”. Then I knew that I needed this Jesus and believed in Him. I was baptized in 1995 and became a full-time staff member at church the same year. I went on to graduate from Mongolian Bible College (UBTC) in 2001 was ordained as a pastor in 2002.
Can you describe the lifestyle of people living in rural areas of Mongolia where you work?
The main residents living in the villages are herders – they tend the cattle and are on the move constantly, seeking better pasture for their sheep, goats, cows, horses and camels. They utilise services from the village centres such as banking and schooling so usually their kids attend boarding schools and stay in the dormitories.
How open are the people to missionaries and the gospel message?
They’re generally very hospitable, friendly and welcoming but Buddhism is widespread and the major religion of Oberhangai province – these people can be hostile and closed towards Christians. People usually come to Christ through their Christian relatives, friends and family members – if their lives are consistent with what they share about Christ.
What are the biggest barriers for people accepting Christianity?
The Buddhist mentality and suspicion that Christians are linked with the west and want to convert Mongolians to Western culture. They fear that eventually their wealth and resources will be exploited through Christian influence and they get Christianity mixed up with western culture in general.
What approach does AOM take to church planting in Mongolia?
We deploy evangelism teams in partnership with local churches and focus a lot on discipling and mentoring leaders through our Great Commission Institute (GCI) training courses. For our mission into Overkhangai province specifically, we will travel into the region at least six times a year and add a wealth of experience and leadership to our local partners. We’ve also raised funds to run activities alongside our church planting efforts.
How can we best pray for the teams involved in rural Mongolian missions?
Please pray for the right people to join our team and health and wisdom for the leaders, especially as they must travel for many hours. Please pray that we can help effectively mentor the local leaders and disciple them to become leaders who help spread Christianity in their communities.