Prayer is vital in the unfinished task of bringing the gospel to the Tibetan Buddhist influenced peoples of China, Mongolia and Bhutan, also called the “Skylands peoples.” Sometimes, though, it is difficult to know where to start or how to pray for people whose lives seem so different from our own. Here are two stories to help guide your prayers.
Natural Disasters: Earthquakes
Tibetans are a beautiful and hardy people, well-adapted to cope with life on the “Roof of the World,” with its head-spinning altitudes, scorching sun and winter blizzards. Yet other natural forces are at work there with much more devastating effects.
The Tibetan Plateau is riddled with seismic fault lines, and every so often there is a jarring reminder of how fragile life is.
Drolma is a striking young Kham Tibetan woman with almond eyes and dark braided hair. In 2010, her home village in Yushu district, Qinghai Province was destroyed by a terrible earthquake. Drolma was in the provincial capital attending university at the time, but her whole family was killed when their mud and brick house collapsed on them.
In the aftermath, Drolma said, “I tell my friends here at school that I’m fine. But at night, I lie awake in bed crying myself to sleep because I miss my family.”
The Yushu disaster came just a couple years after a massive earthquake in nearby Sichuan Province, which affected a huge swathe of territory including some Tibetan districts.
Tragic as these events were, there is eternal fruit where there was once despair. Along with the swift and impressive response from the Chinese authorities, Christians from all over China and beyond also mobilized to offer help. This had a remarkably unifying effect on the Chinese church, while the Tibetan people became the focus of prayer more than ever before. God opened doors for demonstrations of holistic love and gospel truth to Tibetans in ways that would not have happened if it had not been for the earthquakes.
- For Tibetans like Drolma who are still deeply grieving the loss of loved ones.
- That Tibetans affected by disasters will realize how much the Lord Jesus loves them through the words and deeds of Christian aid workers.
- That thriving Tibetan churches will be established in the very districts that have been reduced to rubble by earthquakes.
Though nomadic ways have all but died out among Mongols in China, more than 140,000 families in Mongolia to the north still follow the centuries-old lifestyle of their forefathers.
The traditional nomad dwelling is a round felt tent called a ger (yurt). Life can be very harsh, especially during the long, bitterly cold winters. Following their livestock to find fresh pasture, each nomad family will pack up their ger and relocate four to six times a year. This life of “no fixed abode” presents a particular challenge to those called to make disciples of Jesus Christ among nomadic Mongols.
Bayarmaa looked up warily at the approaching jeep as she milked the goats by her ger. She was tired after a long horse ride. And she was grieving. Her oldest son had died six weeks ago in a motorcycle accident. Today the family had ridden on horseback up to a mountain for a special Buddhist ceremony to help their son achieve a better reincarnation.
Two men, a Mongol and a foreigner, got out of the jeep. Bayarmaa’s mother immediately came over and invited the strangers into the ger. As they entered, Bayarmaa pulled her mother aside and asked, “Why did you invite them in on such a day?” Bayarmaa knew that she would now have to make tea and possibly serve a meal.
“See the rain?” her mother replied. “This is a good omen; they must be good people!”
The Mongol talked about a “god” named Jesus. Her mother had never heard of this god before, but Bayarmaa recalled seeing the “Jesus” film when she was at secondary school. After serving bowls of steaming salty milky tea, Bayarmaa pointed to the back of the ger where a photo of her son had incense and a 10,000 Tugrik bank note in front of it. “Can your Jesus help our son have a better reincarnation?” she asked.
Please pray that:
- More and more nomads will have opportunity to hear the gospel, and also have open hearts to embrace it.
- Gospel workers will commit to revisit nomads time and again until they come to faith and maturity in Christ.
- The Lord will send out many more workers to reach the nomads.