Dispatches: Inner Mongolia

horses After a late supper at the end of a long day, I am trying to catch up on some writing.  We just returned from a Mongolian meal served at a seedy restaurant with greasy tables arranged beneath a grimacing portrait of Genghis Khan.  The thick air was mixed with cigarettes and steamy Hohot hot pot, but we found the food to be quite good.  In the cramped upper room where we ate, it was a respite—a time to sit and talk over all we have heard and seen today.

The best news of the day was that Wu Wen accepted Christ as her Saviour!  She had first heard the Gospel last summer at an English camp, but Maral’s faithful witnessing brought her to understanding and decision.  Praise the Lord for my new sister!

More and more Wu Wen’s are coming into the Kingdom across Inner Mongolia from the cities to the grasslands.  We were in one place today—a large yurt—where in little more than a year the church has grown to 1,000.  They meet in ten house churches—some in the city, some among the shepherds on the prairie.  In another town, the house church meets in the home of a seamstress named Altan.  A brother named Enkhee took me over to Altan’s house where she eagerly took out from beneath her mending her treasured copy of the Mongolian Bible.

yurt tent

Six months ago Altan’s husband divorced her—abandoning her and their 8-year-old son.  As she walked out of the court where she was given divorce notification—overwhelmed in hopelessness—she met a Christian who shared the Good News that she too had only recently heard and believed.  Altan trusted Christ right there.  She said, “The worst day of my life became the best day of my life!”

The group of believers that gather in her cramped apartment has grown from four to forty in six months.  “Who is the preacher,” I asked.  “Whoever has a Bible.”  “Do you know how to preach?” “No, I just know how to read the Bible.”  “How did the church grow so quickly?”  “I don’t know, they just come!”

These people don’t even know the word “church planting” or “soulwinning,” they just know that Isus Hkristus has given them new life—and the News is too good to keep!  The gods they once served and feared are no more than they appear—just wood and stone.  So it is Acts in action, lived out in marvelous ignorance of methods and machinery as the wind of the Spirit sweeps over these Mongolian plains.

In a Yurt near Yuanshangdu, Inner Mongolia

I finished out my last day on the Mongolian plains in a fitting way—on a horse!  The horse had spirit.  He kicked his handler when he brought him out of the corral, and when I rode him he took all the rein I gave him.  The sky was streaked with orange, and the grasslands lay in shadow and starlight—plains which Marco Polo crossed seven centuries ago.  This afternoon we walked through fields where he lived long ago and saw the ruins of the great city he once described, which opened Europe’s thirst for exploration.  The old columns now lay fallen among bright wildflowers.

Near our yurt tents stands a perfect cone of a hill.  On its peak is an ao-bao—a pile of stones.  Such altars were raised long ago by Mongol shamans as a place of prayer and sacrifice to their gods of fear and bondage.  We climbed this one today to seek the face of the only true God to pray for the Gospel to shake this land and for the day when crosses would be raised over these high places.  In Mongolian and English we pleaded for these people for whom Christ died.  There on the summit’s immense pile of stones, where bleached bones lay and the wind played among the faded shreds of silk prayer banners, we prayed for the day when His glory would be known throughout the land!