In the wide open spaces of Mongolia, travelers on the road may see ovoos, tringular collections of rocks piled on top of one another.
"Mongolians are in awe of the Great God of the Blue Sky, Burxhan," said LHF executive director Rev. Matthew Heise, who has visited the country several times to teach. "Ovoos are seen as holy sites by the Mongols. Believing the spirits dwell there, they leave offerings of food, drink (yes, vodka!), and money, and circle the ovoos three times in order to be blessed on their journey. As the Apostle Paul would say to the Athenians, they
are very religious people, but without knowledge."
Soon, Mongolians searching for religious truth will have new knowledge: A Child's Garden of Bible Stories
, translated and published by LHF into the Mongolian language.
Christianity is new in this vast and sparsely populated country, where many people continue to make their living by herding and farming.
"[When Communism fell] in the early 1990s, we lost our hope of building that kind of society," said Rev. Jurevdorj Jamsran, who was one of the first Christians in Mongolia. "But with the opening of the country, the Gospel came. The hope of eternal life and everlasting salvation attracted many of us."
Together with two other pastors and several lay leaders, Rev. Jamsran leads three main churches in Mongolia's cities and 6-8 congregations in the countryside.
"The traditional religions of Mongolia, such as Buddhism, do not give you hope of eternal life," he said. "Buddhism's answer is karma: if you are suffering, that is what you deserve. But Christians come to tell that you are forgiven through Christ Jesus."
As the Christian church in Mongolia grows, Rev. Jamsran says there is a great need for good teaching materials written in their own language.
“We are creating a new lifestyle of reading the Bible for ourselves and for our kids,” he said. “This Bible book will be used for teaching in our Sunday schools, as well as for parents to read to the children. Bigger kids will read it for themselves, but it is also a great tool for churches to educate our newly-converted parents, too!”