Welcome to Mongolia, a landlocked country squeezed between China and Russia. [Locate Mongolia on a map.] Mongolian culture is one of the oldest in the world. At one time the Mongols, as the people of Mongolia are known, formed the largest empire in the world under the leadership of Genghis Khan, a fierce warrior.
For hundreds of years the people of Mongolia have moved their herds of horses, camels, sheep, and goats across the vast grasslands that stretch over the hills and plains of Mongolia. Even today you can see Mongolian cowboys riding behind their herds not far from the cities.
Some of these nomadic people still live in portable homes called gers [gehrs]. [Show a picture of a ger.] Their homes keep them warm during the bitterly cold winters. But many Mongolians are leaving their nomadic life and moving to the cities, where they hope to find an easier life. Some bring their ger with them and live in them right in the city.
Oognah [OOG-nah] and her family moved from the countryside to the city when she was a little girl. She enjoys making flowers and birds from paper. This skill is called origami [oh-ree-GAH-mee], or paper folding. She has a younger brother, Jakna [JAHK-nah], who is 7 years old.
Most Mongolians are not Christians. Oognah’s grandparents once worshipped at a shrine to a god made of stone. But during Communist times it was forbidden to practice religion, so many people abandoned their faith.
Oognah had never gone to a Christian church until a friend at school invited her to visit her church. Oognah was curious to see what people did in church, so she went. She liked the church service and went with her friend for about a year. Then the church moved, and she couldn’t go anymore. Oognah wished she could find another church to attend.
Then one day her cousin invited her to attend a different church on Sabbath morning. Oognah’s parents agreed, so on Sabbath morning Oognah and her cousin walked to the Adventist church not far from her home. “I liked my cousin’s church,” Oognah said. “I especially like the children’s classes. It’s fun to sing songs about God and learn Bible stories.”
Oognah liked church so much that she invited her little brother, Jakna, to go. Jakna loved the children’s Sabbath School! One Sabbath Oognah’s teacher gave her a Sabbath School lesson quarterly. Now she enjoys reading the lesson to her brother during the week.
“Going to church has changed me,” Oognah says. “I used to get mad easily if someone interrupted me or said something that I didn’t like. But since I began coming to church a few months ago, and I’m still learning what it means to follow Jesus, I’m happier, and I don’t get angry as I used to. I help my mother more, and she likes that. And when my brother asks me to read to him, I don’t tell him to go away.
Jakna is glad that Oognah takes him to Sabbath School. He likes to listen to the Bible stories and color the Bible pictures his teacher gives him. “I’m glad that Oognah invited me to go to Sabbath School,” he says.
Oognah’s mother works every day and cannot go to church with the children. Their father is ill and can’t take them. But Oognah tells her parents what she is learning in church. Oognah is being a missionary by sharing God’s stories with her parents and brother.
Whom can you be a missionary to this week? Perhaps you can invite someone to come to church with you next week. Or you can share God’s love with a classmate at school. And when you bring your mission offering to Sabbath School, others who live far away can learn that Jesus loves them, just as Oognah and Jakna are learning.