All that can be heard for miles out in the Mongolia steppe is the sound of a shovel hitting ice and the sound of a woman telling an old, old story.
“I have a really cool story,” Mönkhbat,* a young Mongolian man, tells his girlfriend over the phone.
He’s just heard the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves and fish. Mönkhbat heard the stories from Bolormaa,* a Mongolian believer.
Bolormaa journeyed to eastern Mongolia with her husband Batbayer* and Seth and Sue Walker,* IMB workers who serve in Mongolia.
“Water of course is key,”Sue Walker,* IMB worker
Today, the Mongolian couple and the Walkers have come to check the progress of a well being drilled with World Hunger Funds to provide local nomads with a source of water for their herds.
The Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund provided the money given by international Christians for eight wells in eastern Mongolia. One well costs $3,250, and each well will help around 480 people.
During their visit today, Bolormaa tells the three well diggers how she has experienced God’s love as they take turns jumping into the hole to chip away at the permafrost.
She tells the story of creation and how men and women can have a relationship with God.
Mönkhbat pauses from digging and looks up as Bolormaa says, “He gives you joy, happiness and love. … No matter where you are, He is with you.”
Two of the workers say they believe the Bible’s message.
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Need for water
Visiting earlier in the homes of men and women in the area, Bolormaa and Batbayer heard of the need for new water sources.
Miles of steppe remain unused and uninhabited by Mongolia’s herders because either there are no water sources or lakes have dried up.
“Sometimes there are some good areas for pasture, but people don’t move in to them because there isn’t a ready source of water,” Sue Walker says.
“Water of course is key,” Sue says. “[Building wells] helps those that are struggling to get their animals fed and provide them with water."
The Walkers are providing the much-needed water for the herders by facilitating the building of wells.
Batbayer, Bolormaa and the Walkers show God’s love by meeting physical needs of Mongolia’s nomadic herders.
Batbayer and Bolormaa first built relationships with herders by bringing them news from the city. Many herders live in remote areas isolated from national and international news. Batbayer and Bolormaa spend time with families by volunteering to help herders with chores and taking care of their herds.
Batbayer takes off work for several weeks at a time so they can travel to remote areas to help the herders experience the meaningful life God meant for them to enjoy. Many nights, the couple and their 7-year-old daughter sleep on the steppe in their rented Land Cruiser.
“It’s our calling,” Batbayer says. They hope that as their families relate to others, those families will also find a better life.
The Walkers served with the IMB first in Peru and then followed the Lord’s leading to Mongolia. They love telling about the free gift of water BGR is providing and the gift of abundant life that God gives.
“The money is being provided by Christians, " Sue tells the herders, explaining that they give it freely because they love Jesus and Jesus loves the herders.
Salvation and mutton
Later, near the well under construction, the smell of goat meat fills a ger, a traditional Mongolian home.
Batbayer and Bolormaa and the Walkers pull meat off of the goat’s jawbone, sip milk tea and chat with a Mongolian family they’ve just met.
The couples talk about the new well that’s under construction and how it will make watering their herds so much easier.
Soon, Sue feels a leading to tell how God gave her life new meaning.
"I believe its true," says a local herder after IMB workers Seth* and Sue Walker,* and Mongolian believers shared the Gospel with a nomadic family for the first time.
The men sit cross-legged on the floor. One nods as he listens, the other leans against a chest painted the orange color traditionally used in Mongolian homes and rolls a cigarette as he listens.
One of the men in the ger says he’s read a book about Jesus before.
Seth tells how, as an 18 year old, he felt something was missing in his life.
Hearing that, the wife of one of the men, who has been preparing the milk tea and tending to her son, starts paying attention.
“God filled the empty space in my life,” Seth tells them. “Do you feel like there is something missing in your life?”
One man grunts in agreement.
Seth asks the question again. The man of the house scratches his head, then agrees.
“God wants you to know him,” Seth tells them. “What do you think about what I told you? Do you think it is true?”
“It’s true,” the man of the house says, looking at his hands. He’s heard a lot of stories and he thinks this is truth.
During the ride back into town, the couples talk excitedly about what’s just taken place in this ger.
Bolormaa says the most rewarding part of their work is when people find the abundant life God intended for them.
The Walkers met Batbayer and Bolormaa through Eileen Swarr,* an IMB worker who’s invested 20 years in Mongolia.
“I think God guided you to them,” Seth tells Batbayer.
After visiting the well site, the couples had wanted to talk to a family living near the well. Batbayer pulled up to a family’s ger and asked, ‘What about this one?’
Reliance on Rain
IMB workers and Mongolian believers pray with the well diggers at the temporary campsite for a World Hunger Fund well-digging project on the grasslands of eastern Mongolia.
“They didn’t look all that friendly; they looked maybe a little suspicious,” Sue says. “But we went in. They invited us in, which is common. Nomads are known for their hospitality.”
Sue says she knows the visit was inspired.
“You could tell that they were really open …,” Sue says. “When I was sharing with them, when Seth was, and Bolormaa, they weren’t looking away; they weren’t twiddling their thumbs; they weren’t acting like they couldn’t wait for us to leave.”
“They looked like the spirit of God was at work in their lives.”
These herders in eastern Mongolia now have access not only to the water that supports life, but also to the Living Water that supports more abundant life.
You can provide water for families in Asia. By giving to the World Hunger Fund, you are giving families access to clean drinking water.
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*Names changed. Most Mongolians go only by their first name.