I heard another wonderful story from the Steppe-by-Steppe team last week. While ministering in a Soum center last summer they learned that the person occupying the hotel room next to them was a Tibetan monk who traveled to the Soum three times a year to collect money from the townspeople and perform certain rituals to relieve their sufferings.
People from the Soum had been going to the monk for years with marital issues, financial issues, problems with their animals, crops, spiritual problems—you name it. They went to the monk for answers they thought that only the monk and his Buddhist ministrations could provide. In the testimony of the town's people, they kept going to him because they wanted to change their lives. There was only one problem.
Nobody's life was changing.
When the Steppe-by-Steppe team carried out their ministry of showing Bible movies and teaching Bible studies, a large number of the people of the Soum began to realize that the work the monk had been doing was not only pointless, but it emptied their purses and kept them in bondage to a fiction that didn't work. They deduced, therefore, that they didn't need the traveling Tibetan as a spiritual guide.
Many of the townspeople began to realize that through simple obedience to the scriptures they could address their problems directly to their loving Creator. When they realized that they indeed have a Creator, they began to understand that the Scriptures—given to them by the Creator—held the secrets to personal transformation. So as some of the people began applying the teachings of the scripture to their lives, they began to see the beginnings of change. They had never seen their lives change with the monk before.
It didn't take long before the people realized they didn't need the monk and his ineffective ministrations. So they stopped going to him. It wasn't just a few people that stopped going to him, it was a lot of people. So many people, in fact, that the money stopped flowing into the Tibetan's purse.
The traveling monk skipped town and hasn't been back since.
This is a great illustration of what happens when simple truth is presented alongside the bondage of complicated error. The practical day-to-day, life-transforming truths of God's word became evident, and the result was changed lives.
When this story was shared with me by the team last week they also noted how transformational a simple Bible movie like Jacob is. If you've seen any of the Turner Bible movies then you've probably forgotten about Jacob. It doesn't stand out to Westerners as a dramatic, life-changing movie. But for the Mongolian Animist or Buddhist there isn't a single movie that hits them where they live more than Jacob. In fact, for Animists and Buddhists the Jacob movie is more effective at facilitating personal transformation than even the JESUS Film.
Throughout the movie and its corresponding passage of Scripture (Genesis 27-35), Jacob, as dishonest and conniving as he is, is contrasted to an equally dishonest and conniving man, Laban. Though Jacob has his problems he still relies upon the Lord and let's the Lord take hold of his life, albeit slowly. Laban, however, persists in the worship of idols, looking to fortune and false religion. In the end Jacob becomes a man of integrity and faithfulness to God while Laban continues on the path of idol worship. Laban ends up losing most of what is dear to him, his idol, his daughters, his grandchildren, his status. But God protects Jacob and blesses him, and the futility of lifeless idols and empty philosophies are clearly contrasted with the reality of a loving and living God.
This story, more than any other, is transformational in the Mongolian countryside. So much so that when people give even a little effort to God's word they recognize the difference between the spiritually real and the philosophically fictitious.
At last count Steppe-by-Steppe has touched more than 31,000 lives so far. Nearly a thousand have surrendered their lives to Christ. Ten churches have been planted. In a country of only 2.6 million that level of change is more than dramatic—it's staggering. And yet even this is a small thing compared to the lives touched 288,000 times by Eagle TV's Christian programming every month.
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