When people ask this they are really asking one of two questions:
- What are you going to do in Mongolia?
- Why are you moving to Mongolia to do that?
Last week I answered the first question. This week I’ll answer the second.
A year ago, neither of us was even considering missions. We had not yet been to Mongolia and had not yet sensed that becoming missionaries was even a possibility.
But, one day…
In his quiet time, Cory heard the word “Mongolia.” It didn’t mean much to him at the time so he just wrote it down and went about his day. Meanwhile, Jen heard about the trip All Shores Wesleyan Church was planning to Mongolia. She wanted to go because 6 of 7 of the Wesleyan churches in Monoglia are led by women and, as a woman pastor, she saw a unique opportunity to bless them. When she went home and told Cory she wanted to go on the trip in September 2016, he thought of the word he’d heard that morning and responded, “Me too.” Jen was surprised but rolled with it (Cory wouldn’t tell her about his quiet time experience until a couple months after their initial trip…over six months later).
They went in September 2016 with Thad Spring and Bethany Grossman from All Shores and Ben Ward and Peter from Global Partners. Together they visited Ikh Tamir to check on an economic development project, sat in on the annual national conference, and explored the capital city Ulaanbaatar.
On the last day of their trip they met with Naraa, the national leader of the Wesleyan Church. She shared what was going well and where there were opportunities for growth. She shared about the need for a path to ordination, the need for accessible theological education, the need for help managing the Mongolian Enterprise Fund, the need for Worship leader training, and the need for creative outreach opportunities like English teachers and medical teams.
Each member of our team walked away with a task: Cory would help develop a ministerial development process (he works with the District Board of Ministerial Development in West Michigan and has been mentoring ministers and future ministers for over a decade), Jen would evaluate theological education opportunities within the country and see what needed to be supplemented from outside the country (her 10+ teaching Bible and Theology at colleges and seminary would help her here), Bethany walked away with the project of establishing a board and procedures for the Mongolian Enterprise Fund, Peter was going to lead a medical missions team, Ben had a Go-Net Missionary who hadn’t decided what country she wanted to go to to teach English, Thad…somehow got off the hook.
The team went home and worked on their various projects. Cory and Jen quickly realized that they could only do so much work stateside without understanding the language and culture and set about learning as much as they could about the culture and finding an interpreter.
When Cory first brought up the possibility of moving to Mongolia, Jen was quite confident they didn’t need to move. From Michigan, working through an interpreter, they were able to determine that two of the pastors were only two classes away from ordination (following the traditional North American model) so, with Chris Sumpter, who formerly served as a missionary in Mongolia, they planned a trip to teach those two classes at the Quaterly Bible School in March. Conveniently, they taught the same material to pastors in North America in the beginning of March that they’d be teaching to the pastors in Mongolia at the end of March.
In the spring both Cory and Jen realized there was a good chance God might be nudging them to move to Mongolia to help put the people, processes, and resources in place to help the Mongolian church fulfill its mission. They still weren’t sure if long-term missionary service was in their future but their next step was to begin the multi-stage application-discernment process with Global Partners (the missionary arm of the Wesleyan Church).
One of the questions on the application was, “Why do you want to be a missionary?” Cory’s reply was, “I don’t.” Jen’s was, “Why wouldn’t I?” As different as their answers sound, they were getting at the same thing. Neither had set out to become a missionary. They just saw a need that they believed God had prepared them to meet…it just happened to be on the other side of the world. The Church is a global organism and if God had previously moved them from Oregon to Michigan, why would it be any different for him to move them from one country to another?
Well, as it turns out, (and not surprisingly) it is quite different. There’s a language barrier. And a cultural barrier. And it’s expensive. And it’s SOOOOOO far away. But, even as they wrestle with sadness over what they’re loosing and the excitement of what they’re gaining, they knew if God was asking them to go, the answer would obviously be yes. Because, they trust him and had long ago decided to follow him wherever he led them.
…Okay, I can’t handle the third person anymore…We’re trusting God to help us raise our daughter as a minority in a foreign country. We’re trusting him to hold our hearts as they break when we leave our family and friends behind. We’re trusting him to help us make new friends and develop relationships cross-culturally. We’re trusting him to help us figure out how to actually do the work that we feel called to in the day to day. We’re trusting him to help us drink salty tea and eat fatty pieces of animal fat with a smile on our faces. We’re trusting him to help us raise the money we need to live and minister in a foreign country. We’re trusting him to bring a team alongside us who want to join us what God is doing through their prayers and financial support.
So that’s why we’re going. We feel like there’s a need, we can meet it, and God didn’t invite us on that initial trip by accident. And you’re likely not reading this by accident. Perhaps you’re feeling a nudge to join our team?
To join our prayer team, click here
To join our financial team, click here and choose “faith promise.”