We Can’t Find Anyone to Teach Us the Bible
SOUTHEAST ASIA—"We can't find anyone to teach us the Bible," Naraa emailed her sister Saraa.
Saraa was a Christian who helped translate the Mongolian Bible, and our friends, Entners, knew Saraa but had never met Naraa. Naraa never had time for Bible study in the capital city of Outer Mongolia, but now that they were 'alone' in Manila due to a job transfer, they wanted to take Saraa's advice to find someone to teach them the Bible, including someone to teach Bagaai, Naraa's husband, English.
We had just finished a chronological Bible study with a young Chinese couple, so we were desirous of and praying for another contact for Good Soil material. When we heard about this Mongolian family with two teen-age children, we knew we had to contact them. But our immediate response was, "Oh, no! Not another culture!"
We called Naraa and agreed to meet, and I researched Mongolia and their culture. We prepared a gift, a Christmas musical CD of a famous Filipino singer, and after talking and exchanging gifts, we agreed to begin meeting on Sunday afternoons, studying the Bible.
Because Bagaai did not understand English, I wrote out the stories in simple English so that we could read together, and then Naraa translated for her husband and son, whose English was also limited. When a certain story came from one short passage of Scripture, Bagaai read first from the Mongolian Bible, then we discussed the lesson, with Naraa translating all that was discussed.
During the first weeks, Bagaai often stood up after the lesson and laughed. Of course, we had no idea what he was saying, and maybe that was a good thing. We continued plodding through the Genesis and Exodus stories, and then one day a Mongolian Christian doctor visited and shared with us that Bagaai thought that his wife was not accurately translating what we were reading or saying, because he had learned in his Moscow University that these stories were fables. Was that why he was scoffing?
"What is Christmas?" Naraa asked us one Sunday. "This must be a very important festival for Christianity because everyone is decorating with trees and lights and people are shopping and buying gifts, and people at work are talking about special foods for the holidays. So, what is this Christmas?"
We did not want to jump ahead, but we knew we had to deal with this holiday that they had never experienced in Mongolia. So, we shared the Christmas story, and then returned to the Old Testament.
When Easter approached, we knew that in this Catholic country of the Philippines with all the external parades for Good Friday, we'd have to share Easter. So we arranged for the family to join us at our missionary vacation place in Baguio, where we taught three lessons (and also tread through strawberry patches and rode horses and basked in the scent of pine trees and mountain air).
I found an online 'print-out' of the Tabernacle, and while we taught the Day of Atonement, we shared Easter, ending with a dramatic ripping of the veil from top of bottom, sharing with them that our Bible lessons were about hope of our having a personal relationship with our Creator-God, and that this Jesus raised again from the dead…but that, we would get to that lesson one day…that we were jumping ahead, which we did not normally do. They nodded.
When we began the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, Bagaai's attitude gradually changed. He began caressing his Mongolian Bible. Naraa expressed that they were learning so much but that her husband still had some questions. What a barrier language can be!
When Naraa and Bagaai planned a month's vacation in Ulaanbaatar, Naraa asked us to pray that they could have an extended meeting with an evangelical pastor in Mongolia so that Bagaai could get his questions answered. Naraa knew of this pastor and his wife when hiring her as dean of the university, and the pastor had once been a medical doctor. This level of education suited Naraa very well, since she has her PhD in Chemistry. They did meet and stayed overnight in a yurt (Mongolia-Ger), and Bagaai asked about 'sin.' Afterward, both Naraa and Bagaai prayed to receive Jesus as Savior.
The family returned to the Philippines and we are continuing Bible lessons, and recently we studied Easter as Resurrection Sunday. This time, it meant so much more to them. Our ultimate prayer is that God would use them in a mission's movement in Mongolia when Naraa retires from her job assignment in the Philippines. We are so glad that we answered the Mongolian Call, even though it involved learning another culture, and we'd love to visit them in Mongolia one day!
Craig and Elaine Kennedy served with ABWE in the Philippines.