Getting to Know Mongolians

Getting to Know Mongolians


An SVG map of China with the Inner Mongolia au...
An SVG map of China with the Inner Mongolia autonomous region highlighted Legend: Image:China map legend.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the seven months in Daban I’ve been unable to find out any information about the Mongolians. People would put me off, or say they didn’t know, or they’d get back to me. Now that I am living with a plurality of them I am beginning to learn more.
The Mongolians here in Daban do not seem to have much to do with the Chinese, frequently not bothering to learn the language or have any dealings with them. One little shop I often visit which makes traditional Mongolian garments and headdresses has 5 employees and only one speaks and reads Chinese. Every time I drop in, the Bible is open on their work bench!
There is a separate school system for the Mongolians which, the Chinese tell me, is inferior to the Chinese schools, but if that is so the Mongolians have made no attempt to transfer to Chinese schools!
They are always happy to tell me they are Mongolian. One such taxi driver announced who he was and after he helped with take to my apartment with some bulky purchases, I gave him a Mongolian Bible. (We have donors who are providing these for free.) He told me, through an interpreter, that he had read this book thoroughly and knew it well – so I gave him another copy confident that he knew someone else equally conversant with scripture. But when it came to identifying a Mongolian church or a house fellowship, he was cagey. He said most Mongolians go to the Buddhist temple.
Of course that did not answer my question – about where he went. I feel sure that I will learn more as time goes by. And if he wants more Bibles he knows where my apartment is. I’ve given out more Mongolian Bibles here than Chinese New Testaments.
We all notice the personality difference between Mongolians and Chinese. The former are more relaxed, more open and interested in Americans. We learned from some scholars that Mongolians have a long history of democratic principles. Genghis Kahn was a mighty warrior but he shared power with his lieutenants. This may explain why Mongolia (the nation, not Inner Mongolia) is a solid friend of America and why we feel so welcome. It may also explain why they are not all that thrilled by the Chinese takeover of their country after 60 years of Russian rule. But they are mild mannered, happy people.
Americans need no visa to enter Mongolia, the Chinese do; while Americans have a hard time getting a visa to Russia the Chinese are welcome. All these borders are but a handful of miles from were we are living and traveling.
Naturally if Mongolians have a history of democracy going back 1200 years, they are also going to be more open to the gospel which is the most egalitarian of religions.
Last week I asked my students if any of them had been to a Christian church, and they all said no. I said maybe you would like to go with me – we go every week.
Immediately they piped up – can we go with you this Sunday? I was shocked, but said – come along. As it turned out two of them attended. One girl, from a Mongolian family said after the service, “I asked God to come to my house.” That is a great invitation if I ever heard one, and perhaps God will open up a house church through her.
For me this is a big break because this child is absolutely the best student of English that we have, and frequently I use her for simple interpretation, and in addition to perfect Chinese, of course she also speaks Mongolian.
It is these little victories that give missions its appeal.

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