How Adventist Pioneer to Mongolia Connects With God
What Cathie (Jolly) Hartman has learned from reading the Bible in Mongolian and praying three times a day.
Editor’s note: In this column, we ask Seventh-day Adventists around the world how they pray, read the Bible, and witness — the three ingredients to a dynamic Christian life. Adventist Mission caught up with Cathie (Jolly) Hartman, a pioneering Seventh-day Adventist missionary to Mongolia, during a visit to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Q: How do you pray?
A: When we arrived in Mongolia in 1991, I felt that God was calling me to be a prayer warrior. But I said to God, “I pray all the time. How am I not a prayer warrior?” I argued with God.
After my husband died, and I remarried, we moved to China for a while. I sensed God calling me again to be a prayer warrior. I relented and said, “OK, I’ll put ‘pray three times a day’ on the schedule.”
Miracles began to happen as my husband, three young daughters, and I prayed three times a day as a family. We had been looking for months for a place to live, and God provided a home. My husband and I lost our job teaching English, and God provided a new teaching position that was even better. The list goes on and on.
That was the first step where God took me in prayer. The second step came when I began to ponder Jesus’ repeated instructions to “watch and pray” in the New Testament. I wasn’t sure what He meant. I looked for passages in Ellen White’s writings about watching and praying, and I condensed them into one document. I learned that “watching” means that we are supposed to watch our emotions, watch our words, and watch whether we have an indifferent attitude.
Whenever my daughters had struggles in their early teens, I asked, “Have you watched and prayed?” Usually, they acknowledged that they had not. We set aside a prayer room in our home where each of us, three times a day, privately confessed our sins and weaknesses and asked God to replace them with a loving, humble spirit. This really helped smooth our family relationships.
The third step in prayer came from the syllabus from the Faith and Prayer class that I took from Joe Engelkemier, a teacher at Andrews University. Re-reading the syllabus in the mission field, I was reminded that if Jesus as God’s Son needed prayer, how much more we need it now. Jesus got up early to pray or spent all night in prayer, so I prayed that night, “If You wake me up, I’ll pray.”
I was wide awake at 1 a.m.
I prayed until my family got up. Then I prayed, “I’ve been up since 1 a.m., and I need energy to get through the day.” God carried me through the whole day!
The next morning, I woke up at 1 a.m. again. I was amazed that God gave me the energy to function all day again. It was awesome!
Sometimes God wakes me up at 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. It’s up to Him. For years, I had hot flashes that wake me up at night, and I thought, “OK, that is God wanting to spend time together.” I never use an alarm clock to wake up.
God wants to have so much more in His relationship with us. We just don’t know what it is until we spend the time with Him.
Q: How do you read the Bible?
After I read that Adventist pioneer William Miller went through the Bible one verse at a time, I decided to try that, too. It was exciting to compare each verse with the original Hebrew or Greek. But in a group setting among Mongolians sharing what God was teaching me through this study, I realized that they were not ready for this kind of study.
Currently, I am trying to improve my Mongolian language through the Bible. With a notebook nearby, I read a verse in English and then in Mongolian. It’s a very slow process, but I try to do a chapter a day. I just finished reading Joshua this morning.
As I was going through the Old Testament laws and punishments. What really got me was Deuteronomy 13:6-10, which says, “If someone comes to you and secretly says, ‘Let’s worship idols,’ you’re supposed to stone that person.” I wondered, “Why? You are a God of love and freedom.”
As I wrestled with those verses, I realized that God was saying, “If you live among My people and pretend to be My child but worship idols, that is wrong. That is hypocrisy. I hate hypocrisy.” For the rest of the week I prayed, “God, show me any hypocrisy in my life. I want to be totally Yours.”
Reading in Mongolian has given me a new perspective because different words are used. One morning I read Deuteronomy 33:1, which in English says, “Moses, the man of God.” But in Mongolian, the description is, “God’s person Moses.” I wondered, “Can I say, ‘God’s person Cathie?’” That was all that I needed for that day.
Q: How do you witness?
Laws in the countries where I’ve lived make it difficult for foreigners to share openly. But you can create opportunities for people to ask questions, and it’s perfectly acceptable to answer questions.
As an English-language teacher I took class attendance by asking students to write something on a slip of paper. I then took the time to respond to each note. Some people opened up their hearts on those little pieces of paper.
Often, it’s simply a matter of being friendly and inviting people over to your home. People open up their hearts in one-on-one conversations. That’s why I want to improve my Mongolian, so we can converse deeply in their mother language.
I don’t see myself as a theologian, but with the gift of loving, understanding, and guiding people in God’s way. My daily prayer echoes the words of Saul when he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. He said, “Lord, what would You have me to do?” That’s how my family has tried to live, constantly asking that question. God reveals His will when we ask, “What would You have us to do?” in each situation every day.