One man’s desire to bring hope and truth to a broken society.
The warm sun beats down on a Mongolian summer’s day as you leave the city centre, crossing the river and climbing the hill towards the Zaisan monument. Here, a circular memorial painting depicts scenes of friendship between the people of Mongolia and the Soviet Union, and honours those killed in World War II. The nation’s ties with the Soviet regime are clear not only here, but also in the city’s utilitarian architecture and the dysfunctional nature of the society. More on that in a moment.
For now, you make your way to a coffee shop where you have arranged to meet Batu, whose name has been changed for security. He greets you with a warm smile and a firm handshake, before sharing a little of his story. He takes you back to the early nineties – a time when the nation was in transition from the communism of the Soviet regime to the brave new world of democracy and capitalism. Whilst many rejoiced in their newfound freedoms, those struggling to pay the bills looked wistfully back to the security of the past.
In a society seeking to fill a void, and in which vodka was (and still is) cheaper than bottled water, alcoholism became a vice for many, Batu included. He was in university at the time, undertaking studies in chemical engineering, and even recalls a group of professors who set up their own vodka distillery. Batu’s life was heading the same way as the wider society: an aimless and purposeless daily grind with little hope or joy to be found outside of the bottle.
Against this dreary background, God began to work. A friend revealed to Batu that his own source of contentment was found not in scientific study or at the bottom of a bottle, but in his relationship with Jesus Christ. He shared the good news of the gospel and invited Batu to one of the nation’s fledgling churches, each of which was still seeking to establish itself after freedom of religion was restored in 1991. Batu recalls a particular moment during the service when his life was change forever. As the congregation sang of Jesus’ death for our sins, he broke down in tears and gave his life to Christ.
Soon after, he gave up his plans for a career out of a desire to serve the Lord. He undertook roles in churches and as an evangelist, growing in his faith along the way, before eventually taking on his current role with an organisation who train church leaders and bring the gospel to the children of Mongolia.
Batu explains that problems in family life extend back to the Soviet days. Back then, your life was expected to be dedicated to work. Children were left in 24–hour care at kindergartens and schools, leading to consecutive generations of unparented children. When the regime fell, people continued to work those long days, some in pursuit of riches and others in order to survive. In both cases, children were left out of the picture.
“I only learned about parenting from Christian books”, Batu explains, thankful for the resources he was able to find. Now, he is working to instil the values he learned in children and their families, with the hope of changing the course of society. Even now, children typically receive little in the way of nurture or instruction, learning only the skill of self–preservation.
Batu and his team wrote a course for schoolchildren centred on biblical ethics, and there was scepticism at first. But after a small number of schools reluctantly agreed to pilot the course, the results spoke for themselves. Now, the team have more requests than they can respond to. Nevertheless, new courses have been rolled out to help parents learn the same skills and values after they saw dramatic changes in their children. We rejoice that with each course comes the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus, upon whose teaching the materials are based. May God heal this nation for His glory!
HOW TO PRAY
• Give thanks for God’s work in Batu’s life.
• Give thanks for the team who work alongside him to bring love, joy and peace to children and families who have known nothing but selfishness and enmity.
• Pray that the thousands of children who receive the teaching each year will long to know more of Jesus.
• Pray that many families would be impacted by the gospel and come to know the Lord.
You can support the ministry of Batu and workers like him through our Asian Workers Fund.