In a 2017 piece written for the Gospel Coalition, author Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra tells the story of what some have called the “Greatest Missed Opportunity in Christian History.” It was shortly around the year 1270, and Kublai Khan, Khagan of the Mongol Empire (present day Mongolia), had become acquainted with famed Italian explorer Marco Polo. Khan became increasingly curious about the Christian faith of his new ally.
When Marco Polo returned to Italy, he carried a message from Khan to give to the Pope with a simple request: send 100 Christian missionaries to share their religion with the Mongol Empire. For reasons unknown, only two were sent on the journey, and they were unable to reach the faraway land. Years passed and Khan soon came under the influence of Buddhism, shaping the religious landscape of the region for centuries to come.
It would be nearly 700 years before Christianity would again capture the imagination of the Mongolian people. And a small but committed group of Haggai leaders are making up for lost time.
In 1995, the very first Haggai International leader from Mongolia was equipped through the Haggai Leader Experience (HLE). By that point, the number of Christians in the country was below half of a percent of the total population. Nestled between China and the former Soviet Union, decades of Communist rule had diminished the influence of all religious teaching in the country. Many still followed Buddhism, but the majority of Mongolians claimed no religion at all. A peaceful democratic revolution took place in 1990, and that opened the door for Mongolians to explore the teachings of Christianity. Since 1995, when the first Mongolian leader was equipped at the HLE, 145 have followed suit, and in turn equipped 327 local leaders in their home country.
On February 28, as the Haggai family tuned in from across the globe for the Virtual Global Summit, dozens of local leaders gathered together to watch the event translated into Mongolian by one of the leaders in the group.
The summit coincided with the International Day of Evangelism, and the group of leaders marked the occasion by kicking off several new Gospel initiatives, including multiple segments on a local radio station catering to families. Three Haggai leaders were interviewed about their efforts to share the Gospel in Mongolia. In addition to the radio interviews, three other leaders raised money to provide Bibles and devotional books to rural churches in Mongolia’s Khovd province.
Haggai Mongolia’s secretary recently reflected on the ways her fellow Haggai leaders have worked together to slowly open the hearts and minds of their fellow Mongolians to the message of Jesus.