ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (BP)–Within a day of hitting the market, all 10,000 copies of the newly translated Mongolian Bible were bought by eager churches and Christian organizations.
One missionary, looking at the empty storage site that had been full of Bibles the day before, said, “I felt like Peter at Jesus’ tomb.”
Great Commission Christians worked for eight years to translate the Bible into the Mongol language. Translation of the New Testament began in 1991, and the Old Testament was finished last year. The completed Bible went on sale in August.
The Mongolian church has experienced explosive growth during the last 10 years despite governmental persecution. In 1991, there were fewer than 50 Christians in Mongolia. Today Mongolian Christians may number as many as 10,000.
For security reasons, International Mission Board missionaries could distribute the completed Bibles only to individuals they personally knew.
“Pray that more copies of the whole [Bible] arrive soon,” one Southern Baptist missionary said. “The first 10,000 [copies] have been distributed, but since many churches and organizations bought those, many people don’t have a chance to get one unless they know some of these churches and organizations.”
Although the missionaries are prohibited from distributing Christian material in mass amounts, Mongolians technically and legally can hand out Bibles among their own people.
Christianity experienced a setback this summer when Mongolia’s former communist rulers swept back to power. Observers fear hard-line communist ideologues may reverse the freedoms — including religious freedom — that Mongolians have enjoyed since a peaceful democratic revolution in 1990.
“At times [Mongolian Christians] come under legal persecution,” an IMB missionary said, “but recently their persecution has lessened. We’re not sure what the future holds, though.”