Things looked pretty hopeless for Odko Bat-Erdene. He grew up living with a heart defect in Biger, a remote, herdsmen’s community in the western part of Mongolia. Odko couldn’t get heart surgery in the country, and his condition became worse over time. Eventually, he could barely walk and became confined to his home.
Then, in 2006, the teenager was selected as a candidate for Children’s Heart Project, the Samaritan’s Purse program that brings kids to the United States for life-saving heart surgery.
He was so weak physically before the operation that his family feared that he wouldn’t survive. They began searching for something that could give them hope. God was preparing their hearts to receive the truth of the Gospel.
While Odko and his mother, Chinbat Bunten, were in San Antonio, they heard about Jesus for the first time through the witness of their host family and church. They accepted Christ as their Savior and were baptized. They left the U.S. with joy over Odko’s successful surgery and recovery, and were excited to share the Good News of Christ with their friends and neighbors in Mongolia.
When they returned home, they helped start a small church by leading a Bible study with eight families. Odko and Chinbat’s passion for Christ was spreading and opening doors for Samaritan’s Purse to do more work in the community.
Last year, we implemented a special agriculture project to reach out to the church and village. Khatnaa, a countryside pastor who also knows a lot about planting, came from a remote area of Mongolia to teach agricultural practices alongside CHP coordinator Gantuya Galsandorj.
Not only was the project about planting seeds to grow vegetables, but also about planting the truth of God in the hearts of people. The church was hungry for more, so our CHP Mongolia team continued to pour into the new believers.
In May, we organized an outreach seminar focused on teachings about family. Pastor Khatnaa and his wife led the event. Six topics were discussed, including the differences in men and women, how to resolve conflict, raising and disciplining children, and finance.
So much of the teaching was new to them that they soaked it up. Through activities like worship, teaching, and games, the families opened up to each other and learned the value of teamwork.
Husbands and wives wrote love letters to one another, which were very meaningful because emotions are not expressed very freely in Mongolia. The families also learned that when a relationship is built on Christ, it will bear fruit and be unshakable.
The parable of the sower is a powerful one, and is reflected in the spiritual growth of these families. It teaches what can happen to a seed depending on where it is sown. Through the seminar, the community was given a good foundation of God’s Word so that they may produce good spiritual fruit.
Before leaving Biger, Samaritan’s Purse staff looked to see where the people had planted the seeds from the agricultural program. We are praying for not only a great harvest of food, but also spiritual fruit in the lives of the families.
Here are some of the thank-you notes the families wrote to Samaritan’s Purse for the seeds:
It was a huge contribution to our lives to be given this wonderful opportunity to be a part of the vegetable project of Samaritan’s Purse. Through this project, we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. Eight of the families in our community have come together to plant vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, and radishes. Because we have our own garden now, we don’t have to buy vegetables from other stores.
Batzorig and his family
By the grace of our Lord, through planting vegetables, we have received a lot. Our family has received 12 big sacks of vegetables and sold half of it. We have never planted, but through this project we learned how to grow the vegetables. Eight families have become a cooperative, and we are now united like one person. We are so grateful for all the help, lessons, and seminars that you have provided.
Erdenebat and his family
We used to exchange one goat for a sack of vegetables. But because of this vegetable project, we have been able to buy a goat back for one sack of vegetables, and our lives are so much better. We are not traveling so far to buy our vegetables, but we are planting our own. We are also learning to communicate with each other more, and are better socialized with other members of the community. We are learning so much about vegetables, communication, and Christ, and we are so grateful to Christ for making all of this possible for us. We will keep the work going on and on.
Jambaldorj and his family