The 36 hours that followed our first church camp in Ulaanbaatar offered a continued collision. A collision that shifted my perspectives. Erdenet, Mongolia. The 2nd largest city of roughly 90,000 people. The very evening we concluded the Root of Blessing church camp, we boarded a train where we spent 12 hours traveling to our next destination. We had a few hours of light at the beginning and some at the end of our ride to soak in the beauty of the countryside along the way.
How did my world collide with Erdenet, Mongolia? It is amazing what God can do in our "less than 12 hour" stay. We arrived at a YWAM / Mongolian Missions Center base. The facility itself holds a precious story of God's provision. The staff welcomed us with a delicious breakfast, and a taste of the infamous "arig", aka fermented mare's milk! Following breakfast, we joined the staff and students for their Monday morning worship. What a beautiful time of worship, testimony (thank you Brian Miller for sharing your heart) and prayer. I was reminded (look out for the shift in perspective), that worship isn't about the PowerPoint or the instruments or the key the songs are in (which all CAN be a part of worship, but it's not ABOUT those things), and it wasn't about what others are doing around me, but worship is coming before our Daddy, our Abba Father, and pouring our hearts out to Him - it's about surrendering to Him and experiencing His presence and His soft whisper in our ear. Worship - the actual definition uses the words "show reverence and adoration to..."
After worship, we toured the facility and could see the passion of evangelism. The Mongolian Missions Center longs to see the Gospel, the Truth of Jesus spread not just in the country of Mongolia, but all over. Their goals and visions were clear.
I was challenged, my perspectives were being shifted - Do I have this same hunger to save the lost? Just because my neighborhood, town, state and country is so-called Christian, have I lost site of sharing the simple Truth of Christ? Right in my own community? Yes, there are churches in "every town" in America. But is the Gospel? Is the Truth shared, the Truth that brings one into relationship with Jesus Christ in such a way that lives are completely transformed and are lived out differently than the rest of the world? My heart collided with the heart of this Mongolian Mission Center.
From one ministry to the next - next we experienced Rainbow Kindergarten School. I must flash back a bit to the summer of 2005. Martins Creek was sending a team to a place called Mongolia where they would be involved with a school. Our soon to be 7-year-old, Brady, caught wind of this, and decided that instead of birthday gifts, he wanted money so he could buy things the team could take and give to the children at the school. He and I took the money he was given and filled two shopping carts with toys and activities that the team packed into suitcases and took along. Who knew that 11 years later, Brady and I would have the chance to visit that very school.
Needless to say, the moment we stepped on the school property, our hearts were tugged. When we heard that the school began in 1998, the year Brady was born, he and I felt another stirring and connection. While the lady shared with us about the financial struggle they were facing, her passion for the children of their town was clear. Their purpose is to provide a strong, safe start for children who may not otherwise be able to afford preschool/Kindergarten. When asked what they needed most, she responded, "Your prayers..." The faith that God will provide for what He has called them to do flowed into her words. Our worlds collided 11 years ago. Brady has been impacted as he soaked in the Spirit there in that place. The Spirit is still stirring, and maybe in a future blog, I will share what Brady is currently being nudged to do on behalf of Rainbow Kindergarten.
Eternal Springs Cafe' and Youth Center was next. This was founded back in the early 2000's by missionaries who sought to provide 2 things: a place where they could mentor and support individuals as they provided employment opportunities, and to provide a safe place where youth could gather and grow. Much discipleship and training in many layers of life have been experienced by many. They are currently in the process of transferring ownership and leadership to a Mongolian Christian, Sara, who has chosen to give up her plans to follow what she feels the Lord is now calling her to do. As she shared with us, I could see her ideas, passions and visions as if they were literally written around her. She was humble, yet so driven and focused on her God-given assignment. She has visions, not just for the youth there in Erdenet, but to package up what happens there and take it to the countryside towns throughout Mongolia. Oh, the depths of God's plans were so evident as she simply shared her heart. I was inspired. How did my perspective shift in this collision? I would say it was more of a solidifying. I believe God used this encounter with Sara to encourage me to keep on His path. Continue to pursue that which He has called me to join Him in - giving up MY plans (as Sara did) and walk with Him.
Throughout our time at Erdenet, we were greeted and accompanied by a dear couple, Jeremiah & Sandy Hsu. They have poured their heart into Mongolia for 17 years, and will be heading out in October. We were able to hear their heart and get a glimpse of how God has used them mightily in so many ways as they shared with us throughout the day. Their passion and testimonies were also inspiring, reflecting the blessing of being in step with God as He leads us on the path He specifically designs for each one of us. I very much appreciated the time they spent with us, walking through God's creation and plan in Erdenet!
(We actually, even in this packed 12 hours, had a bit of time to visit their home where they graciously hosted us, and brought a bit of July 4th into our day by making us delicious chocolate brownies!!! What a special, thoughtful treat!)
Before we boarded the train for our 12 hour journey back to Ulaanbaatar, we were able to go to a "mountain" top and overlook all of Erdenet. (This was possible because we had two amazing drivers who drove their vehicles up and down the rugged terrain!!) As I prayed over the city, gathering up Rainbow Kindergarten, Eternal Springs and the YWAM/Mongolian Mission Center in my prayers, I was struck in my heart how very dear the whole world is to God, our Creator. The same God that speaks to me, speaks to His children all over the world - with the same voice, and the same heart, and in the same love. He is God. He is God of each city. He is God of each country. God of all. Creator of all. He is at work. He's got the Whole World in His Hands.
I am so thankful for these 36 hours of my life.
What perspective might God be desiring to shift in you?
Worship - How do you pour out your reverence and adoration to your Heavenly Father?
Do we/ How can we have that drive and passion and boldness to spread the salvation of Jesus to those around us?
I John 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
I had the opportunity to travel to Mongolia from June 29 - July 14. What an amazing ride it was. Over the next several days (or weeks :)) I would like to share my experiences through this Blog. I pray that this isn't just about me sharing about me, but that as you read, you may recognize God's presence, and that you, in turn, can be nudged or touched by His mighty hand.
Collision - when two moving objects strike each other.
I feel like I have experienced a collision. An experience where I was in motion...coming out of a very fast-paced, busy time. Brady's graduation, VBS, family vacation, new upcoming Love INC ministries....I was in motion. I was moving. I was being driven by family, church, responsibilities. I was on the move.
On the other side of the world, there is a country called Mongolia. The people of Mongolia are on the move. They are in motion. They are continually moving in and through a new (20+ old) season of Christianity. They are being driven by church camps, ministries, discovering ways to spread the Gospel. They are moving. They are in motion and on the move.
A few weeks ago, these two vessels collided. What happens when two moving objects collide? Both of them are changed, sometimes one is affected more than the other. But when two collide, there is bound to be change and transformation. The outcome of this collision is what I hope to express in this blog and the next several blogs.
The path I traveled towards this collision is worth mentioning - a 1 1/2 hour van ride to the Cleveland airport, a 1 hour plane ride to Toronto, a 14 hour plane ride to Seoul, Korea, a 3 hour plane ride to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This 20+ hour trip (including layovers) ushered me into a new pace.
As I told people about the anticipated 14 hour plane ride, some cringed. But, oddly, I almost looked forward to being in one place, not being able to go anywhere or do anything. Time to just be. Time to anticipate how God was about to shake my world. Time to unwind. Time to breathe.
The first impact of my collision caused me to shift gears. We landed in Mongolia at night, and so we got dropped off at our temporary apartment for a night's sleep. While the next day's events brought us right into our first adventure, my gears began to already shift from being one who thrives on coordinating, planning, making lists and checking them off - both for Love INC and at home...to one who was now in the passenger's seat. There was a "plan", but I quickly learned that it was a very flexible plan.
Our first endeavor was to help out at a church camp. It was worded to us that the church would love for us to jump in and give some of their leaders and teachers a break. They invited us to lead games and activities, and do some Bible teaching. We weren't able to prepare or do much of that ahead of time, but as we arrived at the camp that very first day in Mongolia, we met our translators and jumped in the best we knew how. Some of us were assigned to work with the youth, and others of us with the younger children.
I had to shift from being an organized leader/facilitator to a foreigner who couldn't understand or be understood, and yet was in a position to lead. Two worlds have just collided.
This first session was a bit difficult due to the language barrier and to trying to get a grasp on how all of this was going to work. How in the world can I be a blessing and offer a break to these teachers, when they are now my translators and are still needing to rally up the children and be the one to instruct, control and guide? I felt as though I was adding more of a burden on to them.
I had to shift gears. Relax. Shift out of my high-strung coordinator hat, and ask God to shift me into His gear. His pace. His approach. IT WASN'T ABOUT WHAT I COULD DO! In Matthew 6:33-34, Jesus says, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." Seek Him. Seek His ways and His plan. Each session improved as I allowed God to take over, as I shifted my attitude and became open to learning new ways I could connect with these beautiful children. We discovered hand gestures, clapping and facial expressions that could bind us together. The rest of the 3 day camp unfolded smoothly, and became one of the many highlights of my trip.
We worshiped together - they sang in Mongolian and I sang in English. (Or, by the end, I caught on to some of their Mongolian songs and sang along, even though I didn't know what the translation was.) BUT, what I DID know was that we were worshiping and singing about and to the very same God! He is God the Father to us all. What joy I found in meeting more of my precious brothers and sisters in Christ.
In addition to worshiping together, I was able to have some heart-felt conversations with some Mongolian women who could speak English. It was through these relationships where I felt not just my Type A mind shifting gears, but God was shifting things around in my heart.
I listened to, cried with and prayed with some sweet sisters who have found themselves Christians in a newly Christian country. I could see the passion in them as they desire to live a bold life for Jesus, while being surrounded by pressures from family members and communities. Oh how they yearn to serve others and to bring Jesus to all around them.
As I collided with the beautiful people at this camp, my gears were shifted. When the "on-the-move" vessel in me collided with the spirited, "on-the-move" Mongolian brothers and sisters, something happened. My gears were shifted. The Holy Spirit moved right on into the driver's seat. I don't know how my Mongolian friends were changed in this collision, but I pray that they too, experienced the power of the Holy Spirit.
Are you in the middle of a collision? What are you colliding with? Are you heading for a collision? Are you on the move? What might God be seeking to shift in your life? Are you able to scoot over and allow Him to take the driver's seat?
More little tidbits about my experience at this camp:
* We taught them how to play Dutch Blitz and gave them a set of cards!
* We ate their "camp meals" which included rice, "meat", potatoes, noodles...some of our group had the opportunity to try intestines!!
* We had "jam" sessions with their musicians (Brady had his ukelele which was a hit!)
* The foundation of Scripture the children knew was outstanding!
* The camp was located out in the country and was stunning!
* They baptized about 8 people in the river (there were cows that crossed through the river as they were singing - right before the baptisms! :))
More on My Mongolian Collision to come...