YWAM celebrates 20 years in Mongolia with a new Biblical Studies program
In early 1990, high inflation and food shortages racked what was known then as The People’s Republic of Mongolia. Despite the recent peaceful democratic revolution, little hope seemed present in the Asian country. Especially for the church. After 70 years of Communism, Mongolia was one of the few countries with no known churches or even native believers.
The first missionaries in over 60 years, a group of Native Americans, arrived in the country in 1990. And in 1991, the first YWAMers arrived. Beginning with only 14 Mongolian believers, all of them teenage girls, the YWAM team faced many hurdles in their attempts to plant an active, vibrant church in Erdenet, Mongolia. But without a doubt, God had His hands on the church of Mongolia. Today, the country not only celebrates 20 years of religious freedom, but also that Christians make up 1.7% of the population.
Even today, YWAM continues to be a large part of Mongolia’s church history and it is one of very few organizations that currently offer a Bible School program in Mongolia. The School of Biblical Studies was introduced to YWAM Mongolia in 2000 by Bolortuya Damdinjav with help from YWAM Taiwan. Only a few weeks ago, YWAM Erdenet reintroduced Old Testament teaching to their School of Biblical Studies (SBS), with the help of the Titus project, a YWAM initiative to mobilise SBS alumni for Biblical teaching around the world, which claims participants from YWAM Taiwan, Montana, and Hollandmaking.
Despite the harsh temperatures of -23°C and below, a group of dedicated, native church members rose to attend their first ever lectures on the Old Testament. The class was a diverse array, with everyone from kitchen volunteers and missionaries, to a famous Mongolian television presenter and a former rancher from the Gobi desert.
Despite the diversity, all were eager to learn and were hungry for the word of God. The SBS started, of course, in the beginning — Genesis. “I was teaching Genesis this week,” said SBS teacher, Jonas Stava. “I had a very good time doing it. It was a huge blessing to teach such a great class. People were hungry after God and they had many questions about the book after the teaching was finished.”
It was not only the people of Erdenet who benefited from the teaching, those a part of The Titus Project found they too were enlightened by their students. “Even though I was the one teaching this book,” continued Jonas. “I think that I learned more from the class than I was ever able to teach them. They were hungry for God and willing to obey his will for their lives, and they also had a lot of questions which shows a desire to learn more. All glory, praise and honor to God only.”
YWAM’s work in Mongolia has yielded four centres, all active and ready to receive students. You can follow the Titus Project’s work at YWAM Erdenet at their Tumblr blog or you’re interested in learning more about the pioneering history of Mongolia, be sure to check out the book by Brian Hogan, one of the first YWAM Mongolia team members, There’s A Sheep In My Bathtub.