Feature

Out of the Ruins

Raising up a new generation of leaders in Mongolia

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Beleg* was full of potential. He had received Bible school training and was a good preacher. He had grasped the basic concepts of the Christian life, and it seemed that he was beginning to walk in them. He desired to follow God. We were encouraged and hopeful that this young man might be a future pastor for our leaderless church.

Then one night while hanging around the wrong friends, he got drunk, broke into the church and stole all of the money that had been collected during the previous Sunday’s offering. That was last year. Today, he is living in the countryside, embarrassed and shamed by what he did and not really participating in church. This is not an isolated incident. Often we hear different versions of the same story happening to young men in this adolescent Mongolian church.

Creating a Vacuum

In 1990, when Mongolia renounced communism, there were few known Christians in the country. Today, a small church is emerging from the ruins of the former Soviet state. This church is made up primarily of young people and women. In fact, approximately 70 percent of all church attenders in Mongolia are women. One of the great challenges for the work in this nation is reaching and training young men for Christlike servant leadership in the church. The problem is that an entire history is working against this goal.

After the time of Genghis Khan, the Chinese and then the Russians ruled Mongolia. Both of these regimes managed not only to stamp out Christianity but also to deplete the nation’s strong male leadership. During the communist era, Mongolian men were given nonskilled jobs such as construction and factory labor, whereas, except at the highest tiers of government, women were made executives and company bosses. The addition of rampant alcohol addiction has contributed to a lack of leadership skills among Mongolian men.

However, the raising of new life from ruin is the precise work of the gospel. The C&MA in Mongolia is working to proclaim the good news of Christ and bring truth, restoration and strength in a way that connects with Mongolian men.

Providing Strength

In the city of Darhan, Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA) worker Jeremy Fields is developing a “Fresh Water” project. Fields’ vision is to work with other men in the community to construct affordable water filtration systems for every family, so that people will not have to get their water from the dirty river. This is proving to be an inroad into the hearts of men in the community. During the project, CAMA men labor side by side with other men as they take action to provide clean water for their families. “If nothing else, the sweat of our brows buys us some respect that we can use to introduce other men to the King,” says Fields.

In the rural community of Bulgan, Jeremy Bergevin and his family are looking for creative ways to reach their community and establish a church. One of the ideas coming to fruition is a “Cowboy Camp” for Mongolian boys and young men. The participants will spend time this summer learning to rope and expand their already astonishing horseback riding skills. Some of Bergevin’s neighbor boys are already interested. Bergevin hopes that the “Cowboy Camp” will begin friendships that last well into maturity and will [help to] foster a uniquely Mongolian manhood.”

At the Alliance Bible Training Center in Darhan, Dr. Pieter Theron has a vision for training that will “develop men who will be Christlike, servant and spiritual leaders, not only in the church but first and foremost in their families and also in the marketplace and community.” Theron is planning a biblical training program that will place men and women in communities of faith and learning. There, in an atmosphere of grace and community, men will learn how to integrate their faith, spirituality and theology with their daily living.

A New Story

As the C&MA team disciples Mongolian men through genuine friendship, it is our desire to see Beleg’s story redeemed and Christ exalted. Perhaps that young man’s story will end like Sansar’s.

Sansar had become a Christian as a young man and was beginning to follow Christ. However, like so many other young male Christians in Mongolia, he became distracted by sex, money and alcohol. Then, death came to his home. “When my mother died, it was a spiritually dark time for me,” said Sansar. “I wanted to know why God would take a good person like my mother and not bad people. I didn’t want to follow Him anymore.” However, as church members and the men on the C&MA missionary team reached out to Sansar, he came back to his First Love and is following Jesus once again. He is now married and is an emerging leader in the Mongolian church.

From out of the ruins, God brought life to this young man. Sansar understands more than most the need for godly men in the Mongolian church. “We need men who are able to lead and encourage others in our society, not in a general way but in a way that challenges and inspires other men,” he told me. “In order to win them for Christ, we first have to fellowship and work together with them. God created men as the head of the family and desires for them to lead in righteousness.”

The power of God and the gospel can make these fallen stones of the past stepping stones into the future. Standing in the midst of ruin, we look to our God and His future of hope.

*Name has been changed.

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