Dumplings, dancing and new life in Christ.
A vast landscape of litter surrounds you as you gaze across the dump in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Beyond the wire perimeter lies one of the capital’s poorest neighbourhoods, with most residents inhabiting shacks or round tents known as ‘gers’. Many locals, including men, women and children alike, spend long days scavenging on the mountains of waste, with the youngest workers forgoing an education just to survive another day. Come rain, shine or numbing cold, these hardy souls will be found prodding around for something of value.
Rewind 20 years and the situation was even worse. When our partners first visited, they found people hungry, cold, dishevelled and hopeless. Worst of all, they found scores of orphans living on the dump itself, fashioning shelters from the debris around them. Deeply moved, the team began fortnightly outreaches offering food, clothes, blankets and Bibles. However, they felt led to establish a permanent presence. Funds were raised to purchase a building with a small plot of land and Hope Feeding Centre began, handing out food to around 20 children per day.
Since that time, the ministry has experienced highs and lows, but the Lord has graciously enabled it to grow. Now, 50 children are fed five days per week, eating as much as they like before enjoying exciting activities such as singing and dancing – a far cry from the toilsome task of sorting through municipal waste! Three times per week, Bible studies take place, led by an enthusiastic couple who also serve in the church which has begun on–site.
The building has been extended and supporters like you enabled the digging of a well. As a result, many locals visit regularly to collect water, giving the team opportunities to build friendships and share their Christian faith. Your support also funded the purchase of a minivan, used on a constant basis to bring children into the centre for meals, activities and church meetings, and to aid basic tasks such as grocery shopping. It was even used to rush the centre director’s wife to hospital for the birth of their first child!
The team met Zolhuu when he was ten years old and living in the landfill. It was around –30°C when they found him sleeping under a piece of cardboard, sheltering from the snow. So filthy was his appearance that you could hardly see a child under all the dirt. When asked, Zolhuu explained that his parents had died, and since he knew of no other family members he went to the landfill, alone, at ten years of age. Like many other children in those days, he had no choice but to live on the streets of Ulaanbaatar.
After the opening of the centre, Zolhuu was one of the first in line to eat. He returned regularly, enjoying the food, the warm environment and the stories about Jesus. Some time later, he prayed to Christ for salvation and began to attend Bible studies regularly! He grew in his faith and started work as an assistant at the centre – a role which would keep him busy for several years before the team helped him finish school and later paid for his college tuition. Zolhuu then met a young lady from his school and married. They now have two children, and Zolhuu is the music director at a church which was planted in the city centre.
Zolhuu is just one of many children who have been blessed by Hope Feeding Centre. Many pass through and remain hard–hearted, but a significant number have discovered the power and joy of a new life in Christ. To reach more children with this hope, the team long to establish a new feeding centre in another deprived area of Ulaanbaatar. May God be glorified as his goodness is displayed in word and deed, and as children like Zolhuu put their trust in Him!
HOW TO PRAY
• Give thanks for God’s provision over the last 20 years, enabling the team to bless hundreds of children.
• Praise God for Zolhuu’s story, and for all those who have trusted in Christ through this ministry.
• Ask God to give daily strength, faith and joy to the team as they serve in an emotionally challenging ministry.
• Pray that God would provide and enable the work to grow, feeding more hungry children and welcoming many more into the Kingdom!