A Scotsman, an American and two Mongolians begin a very long journey. Far from the set-up of a corny joke, this is the story of an incredible adventure with an unexpected twist.
Watch the video below to see how this off-road trip led to a divine encounter with a nomadic herder. [To read the story, keep scrolling.]
Tze, a Scottish photographer and filmmaker, is traveling with Bougulai, long-term worker Bill, and their driver. As they set out their aim is to document various ministries in the northern areas of Mongolia.
Traversing a harsh landscape
Beyond the hustle and bustle of rapidly developing Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s plains stretch out before you in every direction. The vastness of the surroundings is astonishing. For miles and miles there is nothing but the mountains that punctuate the distant horizon. As the travelers set off, the sparseness of the landscape is coupled with snow, wind and temperatures far below freezing.
Even in the well-equipped 4×4 vehicle, getting stuck in snow, ice and mud is a reasonably common occurrence; now howling wind whips the snow up off the ground making it even harder to push it clear.
Traveling 19 hours a day in these conditions, with no roads and no directions, certainly creates a heightened sense of dependence on God. Tze finds that he is praying more, aware of the wisdom the team needs at each and every turn. Which path will be the safest? Can this partially frozen river be forded here?
The group knows that God is with them in their travels, but their plans may all come to nothing and God must be trusted then, too.
A problem arises
Just when it appears that the journey has gotten a little better, when the snow is more patchy and ground more level, a horrible bump is felt inside the vehicle. The bottom seems to fall out of the world for those traveling in the back. As the driver carefully applies the brakes, it’s one of those moments where everyone is acutely aware that something has just gone seriously wrong.
From outside it quickly becomes clear just how badly wrong. The left rear wheel is sticking up at an awkward 45 degrees to the road. With the rear bumper close to the ground, the vehicle looks just as forlorn as the four men who stand gazing at it.
The temperature is around -20°C, so while some of the team jack the 4×4 up to investigate the extent of the damage, the others collect dry cow dung for a fire to provide some warmth.
Once it is possible to assess the chassis from underneath, the problem becomes all too obvious. Part of the suspension has sheered. Attempts are made to fix it. However, as time wears on it is plain that with their limited selection of tools, the group is not able to make the required repairs. Their plans to travel onward are thwarted.
The group decides that there is nothing left to do but to head back to a nearby village in the hope that someone can help.
Backup plan turned divine encounter
In a much-felt answer to prayer, the team finds a welder in the village who agrees to help get the truck back in working order. In addition to offering his expertise, the welder and his family welcome the travelers into their yurt in traditional Mongolian fashion for food and drink. Out here, offering hospitality comes as naturally as breathing.
In the course of the evening, as the group relishes their steaming cups of tea and the warmth of the stove, an opportunity to share the gospel presents itself. Bill and Bougulai explain the gospel to the whole family as the group sits together in the yurt. There are no churches in the village and given the distance between villages here, there may not be any other believers for a hundred miles. In spite of this, late in the night, the welder’s daughter decides to follow Jesus.
Was this what these 14 days were really all about? Were the 3,000 miles of arduous traveling for the purpose of sharing the gospel with this one family? To see this one girl put her trust in the Good News and give her life to Jesus? Perhaps. God is Lord of all; he set in motion the events that unfolded long before any of them were known to the four traveling in that 4×4.
Will you pray for Tibetan Buddhist peoples?
- Give thanks for the welder’s daughter’s new life in Christ and pray for her and other believers like her, often far from churches and other believers.
- Pray for their witness to friends and family – that they would not be alone in following Jesus in their area for long.
- Pray for gospel workers traveling around in difficult conditions – for safety and divine appointments like the one in this story.
To learn more about the Tibetan Buddhist peoples of the Skylands, visit omf.org/Skylands.