The successes and challenges of Christians from Mongolia

On October 17-29 (2018), for two weeks, the session of the Institute of Inductive Bible Study in Mongolia took place in Ulaan-Bator, where 33 pastors and ministers came to study the Gospel. The session was taught by Mihai Cucoș, the pastor of the “Emanuel” church in Sângerei and I made a three-day visit to evaluate the work, to discuss the work strategy for the coming years and to draw up a plan to spread the Word of God through the mission Precept Ministries International. Mongolia’s population is 3.2 million, of which 1.5 million live in the capital Ulan-Baatar, where many new and tall buildings have been built in recent years, but at the same time there are many districts with yurts installed and even if the authorities forbid the heating of yurts with coal, as it gets dark, the population resorts to this kind of heating and a smoke is left in the city that makes breathing difficult. 

In the 21 provinces there are 322 localities (sums). The majority religion is Buddhism and Christianity is very young. It was not until the early 1990s that the preaching of the gospel began. Many Presbyterian missionaries came from Korea, and Methodists from the United States and other countries, and so Christianity spread rapidly. It is currently estimated that Christians make up 2% of the population, with a total of about 60-70 thousand believers.  After the fall of communism, the country enjoyed a wide religious freedom and thus over 650 churches were planted, of which 400 are officially registered. There is also a great tendency in the country to revive shamanistic practices, which are widely promoted. In the country’s Parliament, out of the 76 deputies, only one is a Christian. Lately, Buddhist clergy have been putting pressure on the authorities to tighten legislation to restrict missionary activity so that children from Buddhist families can no longer be accepted into Christian activities. The most widespread denominations in the country are Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals and Charismatics. In this context, Mormons and Muns have become widespread in the country, and this poses a great danger, because a considerable number of Christians have left the churches to join these cults. 

A population of 6 million Mongols live in China in the so-called Inner Mongolia region. Among them there are only about 40 churches and all are clandestine and small. The work of the gospel is restricted there and very little is done, because the Chinese government is obstructing and the Mongols themselves are hostile to the gospel. 

Asked what the major problems and challenges of the Mongolian Church are, the students named first the financial problem that is manifested by the fact that people are poor and do not support pastors. Then the pastors, being deprived of support, go to seek other jobs and are not able to take care of the churches and Christians, remaining without teaching, cannot grow spiritually. This problem is not only caused by poverty, but also by a wrong attitude of Christians towards money and lack of generosity, which comes from lack of education. It is a vicious cycle from which they must emerge in order to have spiritual growth and development. A second problem is the tightening of legislation against churches, by the fact that there are new bills which are intended to limit children’s access to the church, bills are made to prohibit the preaching of the gospel in public. A third problem is the lack of teachers and teaching in churches. Many Bible schools have been opened, but in them ministers are taught methods of organization, leadership, administration, and the Holy Scriptures are not studied in depth. There is a great need for all institutions to adopt and implement in-depth Bible study. Another major problem is the lack of men in churches. At the national level, women make up 80% of church members and men make up 20%. This is a characteristic of the Mongolian people, when a great burden was left on women in the family and in society, and the same thing happened in the churches. 

At church we have several women who are pastors in churches. They are uncomfortable calling themselves pastors, but they obviously do this service and do so because of the lack of active leaders. When I asked Taiwan, one of the men, what is the cause of such a situation in the churches of Mongolia, he said that women in this country have always had more patience, discipline and humility compared to men.

Ariunbold Gaanjuur is pastor and executive director of the Mongolian Evangelical Alliance and says the organization was founded 22 years ago, but has been officially registered for 20 years. 90% of Mongolia’s total 650 churches are part of this alliance, which brings together 14 different denominations. The ministry is divided into 16 departments, of which the work with children and youth works best. Working with women is also good. The most difficult is theological, because it faces various heresies, most of which come from South Korea. One that now causes them the greatest problems is the “Flow of Salvation” whose leaders and followers teach that if you do not know the exact date of your being born again, then it did not take place and therefore they come to the members of the Alliance churches and make them doubt their salvation and move on to this heresy that only 144,000 people will be saved and they are all only in their organization, as if they have a monopoly on salvation and no one can be saved outside of their organization. This heresy causes a lot of damage to the churches. The Evangelical Alliance officially represents the churches and provides them with legal assistance. According to the current law, the registration of a church takes from 3 months to a year and the registration is given only for one year. Then it must be renewed and it will take the same amount of time again.

We were very happy with the work done by the students who came to the session, leading 18 groups with 188 people in 4 different localities. Now they have studied the principles of planting a church and Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, which they planned to teach to over 300 students, forming groups in 4 localities. I was impressed by Pastor Acero, who approached on the very first day and told me with a bright face that only after three lessons in the inductive course on the Epistle to the Philippians did he become very friendly with the apostle Paul and become part of his team. 

At the Haggai Institute, I also had the opportunity to teach the gospel ministers in Mongolia, and I was very happy to meet Pastor Puje, who is a pastor at the Nazarene Church. He also works with homeless people and also leads the ministry through football and English. We went to dinner with Nathan, the pastor of the church that hosted the session, and when we told them about the plan to start Timothy School in Mongolia to train church ministers during adolescence and that as soon as we have 25 students enrolled, we will begin, pastor Natana said that he alone has 10 teenagers and young people he wants to bring to this training.

At the moment we have 14 Bible study books translated into Mongolian and 2 are in the process of being translated. Sister Baierma leads a great work with Sunday school teachers in the country and, when she heard that we have a special series of textbooks for children, she asked us to start training these teachers as soon as possible. Pray with us for the conference to which we will invite pastors and study with them the course “Wrong way, Jonah!” translated into Mongolian, so that we can then start at the Institute the faculty for Sunday school teachers. Another prayer need is for the beginning of the faculty of training English teachers according to the “English for a New Life” method, when people are taught this language with the help of Biblical texts. Țițche pastors a Mongol and a Chinese church. She was so excited about this possibility and when she heard that we needed to have 25 English teachers enrolled so we could start this college, she started calling everyone on her own and the next day she already came with a list of 16 people. 

I invite you to pray together for the salvation of the peoples of Mongolia and specifically for the ministries I have told you about in this article and, if the Lord has laid on your heart to contribute financially, contact us at [email protected] or by phone + (373) 79879694. May God bless you.

Translated by Liza Bîrlădeanu