So, what takes place here in Mongolia? What happens in a typical day? Let me begin with last night as it was rather special and then we will end with tonight.
After teaching class yesterday, I was invited to a student's home. We walked up the three stories of a very run down building and the door opened to a spacious apartment with a beautiful family. This man has 4 children and I was able to meet them as I entered. I also met his wife who invited me to the kitchen were we sat and had supper. The man of the apartment invited another student and the four of us had a time of fellowship. I was able to ask about their lives and the church in Mongolia (the man spoke English) and they were able to ask me questions. After the meal, we played a game, talked some more and then had a word of prayer. It was a rich time of fellowship and you could sense the Christian unity. On the way out, the man showed me his home and in one of the rooms was his 92 year old grandma - a short, hunched over lady. I took pictures of her with her family and then reached down to shake the elderly ladies hand while she pulled me to her and kissed my cheeks. What a blessing to see how the gospel impacts a whole family and the warmth of fellowship in Christ.
After being driven home, I got ready for bed and was asleep by about 9:30. I woke up at 6:00 and began to prepare for the day by reviewing Romans 4-6. After some serious instant coffee, I was picked up at 8:30 to begin class at 9:15.
This morning I began with a devotional asking how the church grows in maturity? We looked at the end of Hebrews 5 and saw that the church must go from drinking milk to eating solid food. There were some questions about sermon preparation and ministry in general that lasted until 10:30 - time for our first break. I had originally wanted to begin with Romans 4 but once the questions started pouring in, these immediate ministry concerns became front and centre. At the end of this time, one of the students talked about the need for all sorts of demands in ministry, such as mentoring, church planning, evangelism, etc. The interpreter told me what he had said so I thought I would address the concern after the break.
I said I would like to make four comments about the man's question but then we should really begin to look at Romans. I said first - be patient because growth happens over time; second - do not panic - God is sovereign; third - love your wife and children (God first, then marriage and family, then church); and fourth, preach the Word (make it your main goal to preach the Word and pray for the people - all else leads from this). It was a unique moment as this young Mongolian church grows in their faith and knowledge.
We began to go through Romans 4-6 which lead us through justification, propitiation, faith, saving faith, faith and not the law, assurance, representation and many other teachings. One of the aims for me is not only to bring them through the book and teach them doctrine but to first show that doctrine impacts all of life and second to show that God gives grace to preach the Word.
We finished a little early today at the end of Romans 6. I travelled back to the apartment to get ready to take a family out for dinner (this is the family that took care of me last year and also has done a lot to help me this year). While we ate in a Mongolian Grill style restaurant, near the end of the meal the lights went out. No problem - they just brought candles to the tables and life went on. (The power has gone off in my apartment several times, one time for about 30 minutes. If you are on the elevator and the power goes off, you just have to wait until it the power is on. So, every time I get on the elevator, I pray that God will keep the power on!!)
I arrived home to email my wife and family and write this quick blog. During the day there are still those special, real moments. A man received a call to hear that his child was sick and was going to be brought to the hospital. Before he left, he asked for prayer so the men sat, prayed silently, concluding with one man praying for the young child. Then there are the moments when we are going through Romans and their faces light up with the truth of the gospel. These brothers and sisters have been God's gift to my life and I have learned a tremendous amount about vulnerable, simple faith in ministry.