Imagine the American West in the early 1800s. Few towns, isolated homes, free-ranging herds, fish in streams, log homes and wagon tracks straying everywhere. Picture the western desert--sand, and a rare tree.1 These are the Mongolias that Joe and I discovered—fortunately I found the near-Siberia treed landscape, while Joe found the Gobi desert. But we both entered teams of Mongolian Christians, in their Soviet GAZ 4-wheel drive vans, who for hours cheerfully sang and snacked their way into the backcountry of (the former) Outer Mongolia. Once commanding the largest land empire in history, from the Pacific to the Danube River, Mongolians are now peaceful. Police carry no guns, isolated herders carry no smiles, their solitude surprised by vans of visitors, and roads rarely carry signs.
Mongolia does not spy on Christians, to my knowledge, as happens in China. It isn't dangerous to be a Christian, as in parts of India. But it is not easy to be Christian. The National Census 2010 for those 15 and above show the 3.1 million population to be 53% Buddhist, 3% Shamanist [and growing], 39% atheist [from the 70-year Soviet era], 3% Muslim, and 2% Christian.2 We seemed to encourage Mongolian believers simply by showing up. By one estimate, there were only 4 Christians in 1989. Today, at least 500 evangelical congregations exist. Converts to Christianity are sometimes harassed. Churches must register every 12 months, and approval must be obtained from up to 6 government agencies. Some provinces will not register any churches, or will register a church only if an equal number of Buddhist centers are registered.3 A mayor in my presence told Tsendee, our team leader, that he did not want any churches built by her team. An education official who was unfriendly to the team last summer, told her not to mention God or the Bible in any teacher trainings that were offered. I am deeply impressed by the love, wisdom, joy, and perseverance of the young team with which I traveled.
Because of the cultural entrenchment of Buddhism and Shamanism (no friends to each other), these teams do not publically evangelize, but offer practical training and material help, create a positive attitude toward Christians, and develop friendships that sometimes lead to new followers of Christ. After three years of such work, a second team is fielded to specifically build-up new followers and to help establish churches. Over 30 churches have formed. The original team then moves to an unreached area.
Jim & North Team
Training in forgiveness
The ministry with which we served was started in the 1990s, working with vets, who are necessary to a country with 43 million head of livestock and 160,000 herders.4 Joe's and my responsibility was to build up our teams through daily Bible teaching, and to help in their ministry. Joe preached and collected dung for fires, and I taught financial principles and English, and played volleyball in tournaments that our team organized. We plan to return with a team in October, 2012.
School teachers in training
Buddhist altar in Ger.
Let us know if you're interested in possibly serving with us. Teachers of spoken English are needed during summer months. Vets are welcome any time. Mature disciplers are welcome. I'm grateful to Pastor Glenn Taylor and Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Chattanooga, for covering my expenses on this trip.
Joe & Gobi Team
1. See for some excellent photos of rural Mongolia
4. The UB Post [Ulaanbataar Post], 11/2/2011, p.7
Prayer & Praise
- Ellen Fox is thriving at Lohutok village in S. Sudan. Pray for teachers at the girl's school, the Good News to spread, for good health and wisdom. She is teaching and also serving handicapped people.
- Continue to pray for genuine conversions, effective discipleship, deep friendships and a simple church at the Westside project.
- Pray for needed time to continue the African American missionary survey/census and for wisdom to know what opportunities to engage.
- For workers for trips to S. Sudan, India, and Mongolia in 2012, as well as for the Westside.
- For long-term jobs for people at the Westside and for leaders to develop.
- Pray for staff to join RMNi.
- For God's glory through a medical survey of needs, church planting and building, evangelism, and seminars in Torit, S. Sudan in March.
- That God will bless Westside gardening and financial classes, and that a Bible study will result, as well as better nutrition and financial freedom.
- For wisdom in website redesign and for visitors to the site.
- Praise for God's provision and goodness in every way.
Jim Sutherland, PhD, Director
Chattanooga, TN 37409-0537
Mobilizing the African American Church for Global Mission
In This Issue:
2. Short-term Ministry Opportunities
3. Westside Housing Project Developments
4. 2011 Summary
5. Prayer & Praise
Short-term Ministry Opportunities
S. Sudan, March 10-23, 2012
Our sixth trip—we're able to design ministry opportunities around your gifting. South Sudan is wide- open to ministry at this time. Evangelists, teachers, builders and medical personnel are needed. The fee is $2,200, plus airfare to Africa, visas, immunizations and outfitting. Call us at 423-822-1091 for information. It's not too late if you move quickly.
India, Aug. 12-26, 2012
Our third partnership with this well-established and loving Indian ministry, we need teachers of youth, men and women. Medical personnel are also able to work in this environment. The fee is $2,200, plus airfare to India, visa, immunizations and outfitting. Now is the time to apply.
Westside Housing Project Developments
Faithful prayers of three Westside ministry ladies, Lois, Willie Mae, and Michelle, are yielding new opportunities and workers. Recently elected Westside Resident Council President Tonya Rooks is eager to partner with people who will serve at the Westside. As a result, she has enabled two ministries—gardening and personal finance classes.
Bengt Carlson arranged for Dr. Larry Williams, agricultural missionary and founder of agrimissions.com, to train residents to raise food. A Family Dollar store left the area and the closest grocery store is now 2 miles away. Many residents don't have a car. The six classes started on Jan. 18. Joe Huebscher pulled his portable sawmill to our property, and the stack to the right is a consequence. This is available for the gardens.
On Jan. 23, Jim Sutherland began teaching a 10-week class, Financial Freedom 101: Biblical Financial Principles. Tonya arranged for class space and advertising for both courses. A ladies' Bible study, taught by Lois Hurd, has been scheduled.
RMNI hopes to partner with Smokin’ For Jesus ministry, headed by Daryl Heald and Kenneth Johnson, and the Resident Council to provide BBQ and Good News events at the Westside on May 11-12. We'd like to involve several churches in each of the black and white communities.
RMNI is assisting with resume creation, and then forwarding these to employers who have agreed to give favorable consideration to those recommended. Please pray that those seriously seeking work will find long-term employment. Some have little job history or formal education, and/or can't pass a drug test.
Please pray that these initiatives will create a better environment for the Word to grow rapidly, and adequately point to the Lord's goodness.
2011 stands out due to two unexpected, but significant trips—to the Holy Land, with Judy, and to Mongolia. In addition, 5 of our Board members rotated off 3-year terms, and we have good replacements. About two weeks were occupied with tornado/wind chainsaw work, clean-up and repairs to our home.
A total of about 185 student hours (60 min.) of teaching was provided in the USA, and another 1,465 hours abroad by RMNI teams in S. Sudan, India and Mongolia. About 10 professions of faith were made. There were 61 ministry occasions at the Westside, and 4 jail/court visits, and at least 10 volunteers helped at various times. Cases of New Testaments and Bibles were distributed. We helped 3 men find jobs. Sixteen personal financial counseling sessions were provided, and a day was spent counseling for a new ministry. Depending upon which web stats are used, our webside averaged 1643 unique visitors and 3154 visits per month. Black churches were attended 11 times. Jim oversees Africa projects for Lookout Mtn. Pres. Church. and the church partnered with S. Sudan friends to fund 7 masters-level students at Westminster Seminary in Kampala and the start of a Bible institute in Juba, S. Sudan. LMPC funded an interlocking block machine, now en route to S. Sudan, and a church plant in Torit, using that machine, scheduled for March, 2012. At least five plan to travel to S. Sudan in March.
For all that the Lord has done, we are most grateful. My leadership style is more to respond to what God puts on my heart and drops on the calendar, than to set goals. Last summer there was a lull in ministry, not being able to go to India. Since then, I've not been able to keep up with everything. Thank you for your financial and prayer support, your friendship, encouragement, and participation in ministry. We're grateful.