Though Tsagaan Sar is technically over, there are a few private celebrations still going on here and there. Diane, Rochele, Whitney, and I also went to the home of Mongolian friends for celebrations. So while the holiday is technically over, it’s not too late to share an interesting story from the holiday.
We spent about 3 hours with our host family enjoying food and fellowship. This wonderful Christian family was very gracious, and it was a pleasure to get to know the elderly lady of the house, Garmaa. I was most interested in her Christian experience. She came to Christ in 1998. She is 74 years old.
We all know how rare it is for people to come to Christ as they get older. So it was a great experience for us to learn about Garmaa’s walk with the Lord. The most interesting was what she had to say about her first realization, as a little girl, that there must be a Supreme Creator of the Universe.
At the age of 12 (1946), she was herding sheep as so many countryside Mongols do. Unlike modern city life where many kids do their own thing, every member of a countryside family takes an active role in basic family survival. Twelve-year-old Garmaa always wondered where the creation around her came from. She looked at the grass of the field, the sheep she was herding, the family’s other animals, even the mountains and the sky and realized at the young age of 12 that such beauty must have a designer. These were, of course, rudimentary thoughts. But clearly God was at work in her early life at at time when Christianity in Mongolia was almost nonexistent. The testimony of natural revelation was having its effect on her. “For that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attribute, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Romans 1:19-20).
Garmaa became aware that only a god could do such things, but not any god. The wonder of everything around her, her 12-year-old mind reasoned, could only have been created by a single, Supreme God. This reminds me of an ancient Jewish fable about Abraham. It was said that Abraham used to believe in many gods, but when he looked to the stars he realized that there could only be one God. The gods of false religion were always quarreling, fighting for supremacy. If there were many gods involved in the bringing forth and maintaining of creation, then creation would be a disaster! The orderliness of creation testifies to a single, All-Powerful God.
One day Garmaa went to her father and asked him about the identity of this God whom she realized must be the Creator of the Universe. Her father told her in no uncertain terms, “There is only one God, and He is the One who created all things. All of the idols around us are false and are not gods. We must serve and worship only the One True God.”
For Garmaa this was wonderful confirmation of what she had already deduced. But it still didn’t tell her who God was. Jesus was still unknown to her and her father. Yet her father had learned from his father before him that there was only One True God, and all others were false. Though not the full revelation of Himself, God had preserved a seed in Garmaa’s family that would one day spout to encompass her children.
As the years rolled on Garmaa did what so many religious Mongolians did at that time—she became a Buddhist! The testimony of the One True God was all around her, but the testimony of natural revelation, as already noted, can only take a person so far. Without the special revelation provided through the Scriptures and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we can never come to a complete knowledge of who God is.
Garmaa’s religious devotion never lessened, it grew. She didn’t just become a Buddhist, she became a completely devoted, totally sold out, Buddhist. She and her daughter traveled throughout Asia for the sole purpose of visiting temples, stupas, and expressing her devotion. As her son told me, “She and my sister were serious Buddhists. Yet at a time of ill health all of her Buddhism came to naught. The family sought the counsel of wise and learned lamas. Her son visited every temple and place of devotion in the country seeking a solution for his mother’s health problems. At the end of his search he came away angry. “They all lied. They knew nothing.” It was only after attending a church service with his sister, who had recently received Christ, that he began to understand the truth. He knew that no matter what happened with his mother, he could not be a Buddhist, but must serve the One True God.
Finally, Garmaa saw the JESUS Film. Her daughter, the first in the family to abandon Buddhism for Christ, took her to church and Garmaa remembered her experiences as a child. The Master of the Universe began to speak to her and she finally realized the truth of her existence. She was made to worship the One True God. That day she embraced the fuller revelation of who God is, abandoned her Buddhism once and for all, and embraced Christ.
I was deeply touched by Garmaa’s testimony. In a land where the true testimony of Christ was silent to most of the population for so many years, decades, and even centuries, where vain philosophies and false religious ideas have held a tight grip of spiritual deception on most people, God reserved a testimony for Himself—even in this one countryside family. That testimony eventually became the cornerstone of Garmaa’s family, who today serve Christ.