You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2008.

I was sent the link to an interesting article in Christianity Today

CT has been asking the question this year “Is our Gospel to Small?”  David Fitch turns around and asks the question- “Is the Gospel to Big?” Basically do people know how they fit into the framework of the gospel?  His struggle is to show the overall picture of God’s  but with that is the struggle and challenge of how to communicate to people that they are invited to join with God’s truth.  It generates some good thought provoking questions to interact with.

1) The size of the Gospel: Both CT and Fitch set up straw men in addressing the size of the Gospel in my opinion.  I think it was said best in the quote (I think it was Spurgeon) The Gospel is safe enough for a child to play in and deep enough to drown an elephant.  Both must be held in tension.  If a church is a mile wide and two inches deep, something is wrong.  If a church is so deep theologically that no child can play around the edges or be invited in something is wrong.  People need to see both the big picture and the individual invitation of salvation and how they BOTH fit together.

I have been reading The Mission of God by Christopher Wright, an excellent book that has been good to reflect on in light of the church in Mongolia.  His quote is found below that addresses the need to see the Big Gospel and also what happens when we don’t. 

So the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham comes about not merely as nations are blessed in some general sense but only as they specifically come to know the whole biblical grand story, of which Abraham is a key pivot.  This is profoundly important for mission.  One of the reasons for the appalling shallowness and vulnerability of much that passes fro the growth of the church around the world is that people are coming to some kind of instrumental faith in a God they see as powerful, with some connection to Jesus, but a Jesus disconnected from his scriptural roots.  They have not been challenged at the level of their deeper worldview by coming to know God in and through the story that is launched by Abraham.  Paul had not left his converts vulnerable at this level but had taught them clearly and reminds them in Galatians that their faith in Christ had embedded them in the faith and lineage of Abraham.  The living God they had turned to from their dead idols had indeed announced the gospel in advance through Abraham, and they could count themselves blessed in Abraham, through his seed, the Messiah Jesus. 

Christopher Wright, p. 220 The Mission of God

This is important in thinking about Mongolia because tragically people did not get a chance to see the big picture of God from Abram (Abraham) through Revelation.  The gospel that was preached was cheap, there was no discipleship.  The result?  There are less believers in Mongolia than there were 10 years ago, that’s right, less.  The Meta-narrative is essential.  And so is the invitation.

2) How do we best communicate the gospel?  This is an excellent question  brought out in the article.  Tim Keller wrestles with this during the 2006 Desiring God conference- check out the audio highlights list. 

The 4 Spiritual Laws do not fit in Mongolia.  Mongolians are very practical people.  If the gospel doesn’t do what it says why follow it? try something else.  Much of the gospel preached was one of “it will make your life better.”  It didn’t – so why stay with it?  What is the best way to communicate who God is here?  I don’t have enough information right now to say, but it is a question we need to answer- part of it is that not one method is the absolute best.  Mongolia is not a homogenous group, much like the US is not made up of people with just one worldview (you could argue that materialism unites). 

Two ways to live is a good start  one of the reasons its good is because it does engage the larger narrative of God from beginning to end. 

I think the second thing that needs to be communicated is that conversion doesn’t stop at conversion- it continues on and is evidenced by a life lived for God, one of the best means of communicating the gospel that can be had.

“Witness always, use words if necessary” St. Francis of Assisi


2008 August 27 01:35:32 UTC Earthquake Details



51.620°N, 104.135°E

16 km (9.9 miles) set by location program


75 km (45 miles) S of Irkutsk, Russia
150 km (95 miles) NNE of Zakamensk, Russia
185 km (115 miles) SSE of Cheremkhovo, Russia
4245 km (2640 miles) ENE of MOSCOW, Russia

Location Uncertainty
horizontal +/- 2.8 km (1.7 miles); depth fixed by location program

NST=305, Nph=305, Dmin=34.7 km, Rmss=0.75 sec, Gp= 36°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=Q



Event ID

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
  • Did you feel it? Report shaking and damage at your location. You can also view a map displaying accumulated data from your report and others.
Earthquake Summary

Small globe showing earthquakeSmall map showing earthquake

Felt Reports

Felt (V) at Irkutsk. Also felt (III) at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Felt as far north as Tulun, as far east as Chita, as far south as Tosontsengel, Mongolia and as far east as Kyzyl.

Earthquake Information for Asia


for more information check out this link

Lake Baykal has 1/5 of the freshwater supply of the world.  It contains the same volume of all 5 great lakes in its depths.  Thinking about it the lake is probably a giant fault line- who knew.

If you look to the left on the widget bar you can now sign up via email to stay updated on the blog.  The program is Feedburner- simply click on the link and you will be taken to another window to type in your email, another easy way you can stay updated on what is happening in our lives.

We were in class about 10 AM when I felt my chair shake- almost like a train was passing next door, a sensation I had not had before.  I wondered if it was just me, I didn’t think I was getting that nervous over language study.  I asked everyone else if they noticed what was going on and sure enough we all noticed the door shake.  It was more like a tremor, really low on the Richter (sp?), no damage but alot of nervous people calling each other.  Our teacher’s phone started ringing immediately.  I thought Mongolia was a pretty sound geologic area but who knows.  While earthquakes are not common they have happend before.  Time to keep reading and praying through the book of Acts.

 We’ve been in Mongolia for a month now.  We’re into language study and, despite  some fears and a busy schedule, we are actually finding that we enjoy it — for now!  It’s a lot of fun to be with Larry and Krista Lain in class, although that probably won’t be the case after next Tuesday when we’ll be in classes of two instead of four.  It will probably seem a lot more like work after that, but praise God that we’re able to start off together and enjoy the learning process.  Since Larry and Krista are living out in a ger district at this point our classes are one of the main times we get to hang out together — they’re really awesome, too, so we’re glad to have them around.  Because we’ve only been studying for 9 days now, we can’t say we’ve made a dent in the language learning yet, but we can say that we know a lot more today than we knew last Monday!  It’s great to actually be able to understand a few things here and there as well as say a few phrases, at least enough to buy some groceries on our own.  I feel good about being able to hear and understand to some degree, while Mark is doing really well at going out of his way to practice speaking.  Maybe since we have different strengths, we can help each other . . .  one can hope anyway!

Toby is very happy spending his mornings with Levi and Miriam, some of our upstairs “neighbors”.  The Liberdas have graciously invited Toby to be with their kids and their new caregiver, so this has been a huge blessing to our family.  Knowing that he is happy and well cared for gives us such peace of mind as we go to class each day.  We’ve already written some about Annika starting 2nd grade, and that’s still going great.  She has a wonderful teacher and a fun bunch of classmates.  We’re really thankful that both the children seem to be adjusting so well.  Thanks for praying for us — don’t stop! 

We also want to give God praise for helping us, the parents of these happy children, to feel settled so quickly.  (It doesn’t hurt that our family and friends are loving us by staying in touch with us and sending us care packages!)  There’s still a lot to do to make the apartment our “home”, but our teammates –as well as many generous friends and family members –have greatly helped us make a good start on that aspect.  A recent visitor to Mongolia was commenting that he was looking forward to going home, and as he said it, it struck me that I felt total peace and contentment knowing that this IS home now.  This is God at work without a doubt!  There will probably be many days, or maybe weeks or months, to come when I won’t feel so contented, so I’m hanging on to this time as a precious gift that will hopefully sustain me through some of those tougher times. 

When I titled this blog I had in mind to write about some of the little things that encouraged me today, such as the fact that I’ve actually cooked some meals that tasted good (to even the picky eaters) using ingredients found here; such as the fact that I had time to clean the bathroom and do some laundry today even with classes, studying and cooking; and that the kids went to bed so easily tonight.  As I started writing, though, I realized that there are some gigantic blessings going on in our lives.  These aren’t just “small victories” but the things that reveal God’s hand at work, the things He uses to shower us with love, and the things that we can turn back into praise for our loving, faithful heavenly Father.  He is amazing!       


Annika smiles in the sunset


Sheep shearing time


The ride to school, 1st Day.  Dr. Nghia Pham drives Ms. Kirsten, Jubilee, Annika, Isaiah and Malachi


New rug and sofa


Sunset over Darhan

written by Annika (and typed by Cinda)

Today (Thursday) was the 2nd day of 2nd grade.  It was a good day and I didn’t do much work.  There wasn’t too much homework yet.  I have made some good friends.  My teacher is great!  My classroom has 2 window sills that you can sit on and read.  There’s a library with tons of books which I like!  The classroom is big — there are two separate rooms with a little doorway between the rooms.  One room is the library and the other is the classroom with the desks where we do our work.  There are 10 kids, 5 boys & 5 girls.  There are 4 2nd-graders, 2 3rd-graders, and 1 each in Kindergarten, 4th grade, 5th grade and 7th grade.  My favorite part of school is recess because I get to go out and play with the dogs named Cimba and Mommy dog.  I’m still waiting to see what my favorite subject will be but I’m thinking it will be Mongolian language or History or maybe ????

ready to go!

ready to go!

waiting for the "bus"

waiting for the bus

Malachi, Isaiah, Jubilee, and Annika


(Toby runs along the river)

It was an exciting time to be able to witness seven people confessing their faith and obedience to follow Jesus.  Most exciting was seeing three men being baptized into the church in Darhan.  We went down by the river, shooed the cows out of the way and tried to find a place deep enough to immerse people.  The sun was unrelenting.



Our friend Pieter Theron helped to walk the pastor through the baptismal service.  The Baptismal candidates shared their profession of faith after the pastor gave a short sermon on baptism.  Afterwards everyone prayed together God’s blessing on those who followed in this step of obedience.


(getting in and out of the river)


(prayer of blessing)


The Mongolia Field

No, I’m not going to name them all.  This is the team we have the privilege of working with in Mongolia.

Two weeks ago our field gathered together at Tiarra Resort in Terelj National Park  Our villa (or villia as it was spelled) was at the very top.  But anyway what matters here is that our field has almost doubled!  There were almost 70 people.  My great thanks to pastor John Kitchen from Stowe, Ohio who brought outstanding messages.  You can see how many kids are here.  We love our team and are excited about what God is doing here.

The team gets together formally at least twice a year- for Field Forum and then for a prayer retreat in Spring.  Other than that they are spread out, in UB, Erdenet, Darhan and Bulgan.

The resort was new (under a year) but showing signs of wear.  It was built by a Chinese contractor with funding from the Dutch.  The Dutch gave all the money up front and as a result alot of corners were cut and materials were not great.  There were alot of Dutch people staying here though on their way to the Olympics (I have now seen a safety orange leisure suit).

Because Mongolia is a difficult field to live in we learned that we receive a grant to our work special that allows us to vacation outside of the country.  The downside- we don’t have money in our work special so if you are interested please feel free to give to this- and as always please give to the Great Commission Fund

Last week after Field Forum I had the opportunity to go with several of the team members to visit and pray in the new Ministry Center in Ulan Bataar.


The capital of Mongolia is the key to Mongolia.  The demographics of this city show that between 1/3- 1/2 of the population resides here.  Of that population 1/2 are under the age of 25.  We are praying about training leaders that are not yet believers-we invite you to pray along with us for the Church here.  The ministry center is located next to one of several universities in UB.  It will be a place for students to gather drawn by English lessons, coffee and a local place to hang out.  The goal is that through this to birth a student church.    This ministry is being headed up by Bernie and Renee Anderson (  I was with Bernie and Renee in 2003 on our short term trip to Mongolia, they came back in 2006, its great, and rather surreal to be back together. 


Please pray for Bernie and Renee and that this Ministry Center would birth many new believers and a new church.  Please give to the Great Commission fund and if you are interested in supporting the UB Ministry Center you may give to Bernie and Renee’s Work Special (see their website above)


It may not be apparent from the picture above  but the row of shops has been built in front and onto a row of existing buildings- rather interesting.  The building is a former dental shop and they are putting much work into it.100_4440

Bernie with a worker in the ministry center


The team from Franklin, TN looks over the Ministry Center


A Local University


Ok- this is for all you cheese heads out there, not just those from Wisconsin.  Mongolia is a dairy paradise (Mongolia- its the new Wisconsin).  I don’t have any problem walking through the meat market- its just like cutting up deer or elk, but walking through the cheese section of the market is still a bit tough.  If you have never been to a cheese factory its hard to describe.

Some is good, other stuff takes getting used to.  The yogurt is great (tarik).  Part of what makes the dairy stuff great here is everything is whole milk- lowfat just doesn’t exist except for some of the milk in boxes.  Even the dried milk we purchased is whole milk- around 28% fat, yum.  They also make a local cheese (pictured on the right).  Its slightly salty and can have a strong sharp taste or mild depending on the batch.  Its good melted and runs about $3-4 per half kilo (about a pound).  We can also get Cheddar and Mozzarella from UB.  They are made in Germany and rather price, about $12-13 per kilo by comparison.

If the Inuit have the proverbial 100 words for snow then the Mongolians must have equal or more for the various cheese and dairy products.  We sampled some that is like a sweetened cream cheese to aaruul, which is a dried curd.  When its fresh its got a very mild taste but watch out when it hardens- there has already been one team member who broke a tooth on it, a national hazard.  They say eating it keeps teeth white an hard.  Some things just come with time.