Hope, the Gospel, and Mission

By: Diane Chandler
Saturday, November 13th, 2010

The scene is Mongolia, a nation of three million people situated to the north of China.  It is late evening, and five of us are worshipping the Lord in both the English and Mongolian languages.  One of the young Mongolian men present has been attending our Bible study and has made friends with other Christian Mongolian young adults.  He is spiritually hungry.  He is searching.  He has no hope. 

He is ready to entrust his life to Jesus.  The simple gospel of freedom from his past and freedom unto an eternal future coalesces into the reality of God’s love for him, Jesus’ sacrifice on his behalf, and sins forgiven.  In that instance, he becomes transformed through this blessed hope.  He is learning that Christ in him is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27), not some fanciful expectation or dreamy goal but rather a sure reality of a living God whose story he has not only internalized but whose life he now lives.  

This young Mongolian man saw the Gospel lived out in the lives of his believing friends.  As Stanley Hauerwas notes in his book A Community of Character, “The only way we learn of Jesus is through his story as we find it in the Gospel and as we see it lived in the lives of others” (p. 44).  This young man saw the change in his believing friends, as they reflected the deeper reality of inner transformation demonstrated in a changed sense of ethics and the new community of character to which they belong.  These other Mongolian believers demonstrated Hauerwas’ famous statement that the church is, rather than has, an ethic, meaning that the Church is the demonstration of this transformation and we are charged with both living and sharing this story (p. 11).

Mongolia is a fairly new democracy, having been controlled by Communist Russia for 70 years from 1920-1990 and dominated by China prior to that.  After this “velvet revolution” for freedom, Mongolia was opened to the world and the gospel.  In 1990, there were no known believers.  Today, it is estimated there are over 50,000 believers in Mongolia.  The Mongolian church is advancing to share this grand narrative of God’s story with others within their nation and beyond.

The latest and recently released edition of Operation World, a prayer guide for the nations, identifies relevant information on how to pray for the all the nations of the world.  Interestingly, Mongolia has more missionaries per capita than any other nation of the world.  How ironic but just like God that one of the smallest nations of the world has been so catalyzed to tell the story ~ the grand narrative of God’s sending His Son into the world to declare the Father’s love for humankind and the Spirit’s work in communicating this reality to the human heart. 

This young Mongolian believer now has a mission and purpose that is eternal.  He joins a great cloud of witnesses in his own nation and beyond.  It starts with telling the story.  No education degree required.  In a world suffocating without hope, this grand narrative clears the air and provides a lifeline to breathe in what Paul prayed, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

How are you telling the story?

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Diane Chandler
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