He just wanted the bullying to stop. He just wanted to scare them a little. He didn’t know the gun was loaded. He didn’t mean to shoot anyone.
Batjargal was born with a cleft palette. His parents rejected him, even as he struggled to survive. At a few years old he was adopted by a relative in a different city. His home life was better but the bullying was brutal and he struggled his whole life feeling like he was unwanted and didn’t belong.
Prison is a scary place. Especially in a Soviet Prison. Especially when you’re 15.
Several years into his sentence, when he was being moved from one facility to another, he and another prisoner jumped out of a moving train, in the middle of winter, and escaped. He lived as a fugitive for many months. It was during this time that someone gave him a Bible and he heard, for the first time, about a God who cares. His initial prayers were things like, “God, please help me not to get caught while I rob this house.” And “God, please help me find some beer.”
Tired of hiding, he eventually turned himself in. Back in prison he continued to read his Bible and continued to pray without really understanding what either meant.
The very first Sunday after he was released in 2002, Batjargal found himself at Kingdom of Eternal Light Wesleyan Church in Gatchuurt, Mongolia. In his words, he entered “a very bad man” and left a very new man. from that moment, his life was “150% different.”
“The light turned on” he said, and everything changed.
16 years later, Batjargal is married with 2 kids living at home. He and his wife lead the Abundant Grace Wesleyan house church in a ger district in the northeast corner of the city. Recently, he received 8,000,000₮ (about $3,000 USD) to invest in his woodworking business.
Batjargal has a shop on his property where he makes delicately carved livestock, plaques, and furniture. A grant from the Mongolian Enterprise Fund enabled him to begin building a better (and safer) shop, power tools to help with the big cuts, and wood to make and sell.
We don’t see it as giving someone money to start a trinket carving business; we see it as giving money to someone so he can train others in a practical skill that will help lift families out of poverty. It’s freeing him up to do ministry. As he trains young wood carvers he’s also discipling them and as a former alcoholic from a broken family whose life was transformed by Jesus, he has a lot of grace and wisdom to give to those who are struggling.
Recently, Mary & Martha, a local faith-based fair trade tourist shop has reached out and begun discussions with him about supplying their stores with wooden crafts. It would be a steady source of income and a better deal for him than selling at the local markets. They liked his products but they love his story.
When we stopped by to visit him, his home was filled with neighborhood children. He’s so proud of his daughter. She was the school Miss. We’re still not sure what that means but we think it’s something like the student of the year for the whole school.
Jesus transformed the lives of Batjargal and his family, giving them hope, redemption, and a new trajectory. The Mongolian Enterprise Fund has made a tangible difference in his family’s economic situation which has, in turn, impacted his community. We are grateful for every person who has given to or prayed for the Mongolian Church. God is using your generosity to transform people who will transform families who will transform communities…who will change the world.
You can watch Batjargal’s story below (it’s in Mongolian). You can learn more about the Mongolian Enterprise Fund here.