mongoliaMongolia is a country which is not often talked about in the west, and the suffering Christians in the least densely populated country in the world seem largely ignored.  Even the respected website www.persecution.org has no current reports on the situation for believers there, yet anecdotal evidence emerges for the suffering of the church.

Although there are fewer than 50,000 believers in Mongolia (precise numbers are not available), the church has an ambitious goal to have 10% of the population as active church members by the year 2020.  In a country dominated by Buddhist and atheist beliefs, where powerful shamans still wield significant influence at all levels of society, this goal is also significantly dangerous.

The Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity in Ulan Bataar

The Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity in Ulan Bataar

Life in Mongolia is hard for many people.  Unemployment is high, and so are the prices of basic commodities.  According to one source, it is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.  The value of its currency has tumbled almost as fast as Syria’s in recent weeks as falling coal exports deprive the country of foreign earnings.  But life is even harder for Christians, who can lack the family support networks to help them survive, and are vulnerable to significant persecution, bureaucratic disinterest and family opposition.

Yet the country does not feature in the top 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian, largely because Christianity is officially permitted.  But a recent unpublished report told of how the spy holes in the doors of apartments where Christians live had been painted over with red paint, compromising their security, but not those of their non-Christian neighbours.  Death threats spray-painted in red have been left for them.  Some have had to leave home in fear of their lives.  Despite that, the number of churches in the capital has proliferated and over 400 overseas mission workers now serve there.  Truly remarkable growth for a country which had just a small handful of believers in 1989.

Please pray for our suffering brothers and sisters.  The church faces many challenges as it seeks to reach out.  There is hostility from other faiths, lack of resources, poor access to the Bible in their own language and a resurgence of Buddhism.  Pray that God will make them bold in their proclamation of Jesus, strong in their faith, united in their love and comforted in their grief.