The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Christians share Jesus with others in the Mongolian community which is about 600 people in the capital city of the Czech Republic.
The Christmas decorations in our church were quite exotic last month. Very colourful and very sparkly.
I was a bit surprised because it seemed quite unCzech to me. So I asked our pastor where this glittery stuff came from. So he told me. Apparently they were not “our” Christmas decorations. The decorating was done by the Mongolian church. Every Sunday after we have our service, there is a Mongolian church service. And not just a Mongolian service, but a Mongolian service in our own Czech denomination. This was enough to raise my curiosity. This definitely required a talk over a cup of coffee. That’s how I ended up at the bakery with an elder from their congregation. He told me both his personal story and the story of his church.
His name is Munkherdene Turmukh, but to make things easier I could just call him Daniel. About 29 years ago he was born into a devout Buddhist family. Buddhism still has relatively many followers in Mongolia. Another important religious tradition is Sjamanism. But Christianity is growing and right now there are 50,000 Christians according to Daniel.
Daniel’s parents were faithful Buddhists. Later they converted to Sjamanism. But that also didn’t give them the peace they were looking for. It even made them unhappy. Then one day his father heard the gospel from a friend, and that changed everything. When Daniel was 11 years old, his parents came to faith in Jesus and were baptised, and from that moment on Daniel attended church services weekly. He himself came to faith when he was 17 years old, and when he was 18 he held his first sermon. Till 2008 he worked fulltime in church ministry in Mongolia. But Daniel wanted adventure, and so he came to Prague.
The first two years in Prague he didn’t attend church services, and his faith dropped into the background. He knew a few other Mongolians, but he didn’t know whether they were Christians.
Then a Korean missionary serving in Mongolia contacted him. She had found out about him from other people. She had been living in Mongolia already for years, and now it was on her heart to go to Europe to find Mongolian Christians, to get them together, and to help them start a church, so they could share Jesus with others in the Mongolian community, which is about 5600 people spread across the Czech Republic.
That’s how the first Mongolian church in Prague was started. At first they didn’t have a special place to meet, so they met in their living rooms. They praised God and prayed that he would help them to be his witnesses so the church would grow. That prayer was answered, and soon the living rooms were too small to host everyone. First having met in another church for a while, they ended up meeting in our church in Skalka.
After a year they decided that their Mongolian church would join our Czech Free Evangelical church (Church of the Bretheren). It is a congregation that is very different from the Czech congregation. Not only are the Christmas decorations a bit more exotic, also the services are different. According to the Czechs, they are too long. But the best thing is that despite our differences, we’re one in our faith in Jesus Christ.
The most important purpose of the Mongolian church is to reach out to Mongolians who do not yet believe in Jesus. There are church planting initiatives in several Czech cities. Daniel’s dream? That all 600 Mongolians in Prague would not only come to faith in the living God, but that they would become real disciples as well.