It had been a while since I had witnessed for God or helped someone in a meaningful way. It seemed as though I was becoming useless as a Christian; I wasn’t making a positive difference in anyone’s life.
That changed recently, however, because of an outing with a group of teenagers.
IT BEGAN WITH A FAVOR
Early one Sabbath morning a neighbor, Nyamka, who’s also the pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church I attend, texted to ask if my husband, Deegii, and I would drive his kids to a location on the outskirts of the city for a teens’ church gathering. He couldn’t take them because he had to lead out with the online church service. We agreed, and Deegii and I ended up spending the day with the group.
A similar outing was scheduled for the following Sabbath, and Deegii and I again attended. Shortly after we arrived, though, it began to rain, and we all rushed to find shelter.
A woman who introduced herself as the manager of the parklike area soon showed up and talked with Deegii and Solongo, a 19-year-old youth leader. The woman said we were on private property and needed to leave. We were surprised, but with her permission, and after Deegii paid a rental fee, we headed to a nearby ger, a traditional Mongolian yurt. There were about 15 of us. We found refuge from the rain there, and we all introduced ourselves to one another. Solongo then thanked Deegii and me for paying the rental cost for the ger.
Even though it was Sabbath and no business would usually be done by my family, Deegii had paid the fee as an offering to God so these young people wouldn’t miss the opportunity to draw closer to Jesus, nature, and one another.
Later Solongo shared much of her life story with me. Until just a few years ago, she was one of the 51.7 percent of Mongolians who are Buddhists,¹ the predominant religion in the country. But her life began changing when she was in ninth grade. Boloroo, an Adventist church leader who used to live in Zamiin-Uud and is now my neighbor, visited Solongo’s school and invited the girls to a craft session at her home.
Here’s part of my conversation with Solongo, who obviously loves God and longs to share His love with others.
A CONVERSATION WITH SOLONGO
Milena: How did you react when you met Boloroo for the first time? Did you think she was somehow different from other Mongolians?
Solongo: My parents, my relatives, and most Mongolians struggle with alcohol issues. So I admired Boloroo and her Christian family, especially her husband, for not drinking alcohol. They knew a lot about education, health, joy, and so on. I enjoyed their fun activities, which were different from what many in our society participate in, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Boloroo knows how to cook healthy meals, how important education is, how to teach others to be humble and behave courteously and kindly.
Why did you decide to become a Christian?
Growing up, I noticed the harmful behaviors of my father, his lack of education, and his lack of respect for my mother. I remember my mother crying and telling me to pursue an education and to choose a husband wisely. I decided to become an Adventist Christian when I realized how well organized God is and how big His love is. I also realized what big things I can do with God’s help, and how important education is to Adventists. All the Adventists I’ve met are polite, very helpful, and take care of their health.
How did your family react when you told them you wanted to be baptized and become a follower of Christ?
I started attending church two years before I got baptized. My parents never stopped me from going to church or being a follower of Christ. They’ve always supported me. But other relatives haven’t.
What challenges have you faced as the only Christian among all your relatives?
When I was a freshman in college in another city, I lived with relatives. They would tell me, “You’re so stupid because you go to church.” They forbade me to go to church on Sabbath days.
What about your friends? Did they support you?
I used to have several friends, and we would go to church together. But now many of them have left the faith. I was lonely, but God was always beside me. Even if I have no friends, if I have God I have everything.
Did you find it difficult to live a Christian lifestyle in college?
It was challenging spiritually because there weren’t other Christians to associate with. When I was in my hometown, I went to church almost every day and met with Boloroo. I talked with her about problems as well as good things that were happening in my life, shared testimonies, and learned from her. This helped me to solve problems and grow spiritually. One day she told me, “Soon you will go to another city to be a college student. We won’t be able to talk every day. Instead, you’ll have to learn to talk to God.” After I became a student, I felt so lonely that if I’d not learned to talk to God, I would have lost my faith, as my friends did. It’s a big test for students like me who are from small villages. But God never left me. He was always there to listen to me.
Why did you decide to work with teenagers in the church?
Many of the teenagers aren’t living a Christian lifestyle. I want to help them to become united and stronger in Christ, to become active in outreach, and to be polite and kind to each other. As I work with them I pray that God will help them to learn to love and know each other well.
What’s your biggest dream?
I love working with the youth, and I just want to be a positive influence in their lives.
What advice would you give to other young people who read this story?
Be hardworking with God. God says, “Go watch the ants, you lazy person” (Prov. 6:6, NCV).² Strive to become strong in your spiritual life, to serve others with your spiritual gifts, to teach what you’ve learned, and to share what you receive. We can do anything with God.
Solongo dreams of going to America on a work-and-travel exchange program so she can improve her English skills and become a better teacher—and she believes that God answers prayers.
We haven’t had church gatherings for almost two years now, as churches are still shut down because of COVID-19. God has ways, though, to help His people meet and grow together, and He’s using young people worldwide, such as Solongo, to make it happen.