We walked in at 10 am and were ushered to a back room to wait. We were seated there until the service began around 11 am. That was time enough to meditate on why we forgot our cultural knowledge learned so many times: When you show up on time, you're an hour early in Mongolia.
So by one am, our part in the service had come to a close and thoughts drifted toward home, lunch, nap, or anything else. The girls were getting antsy too.
Finally after a big round of testimonies to God's faithfulness over the last 15 years, we were walking out to the car. Then they wanted to know if we were coming back for fellowship time that evening. The clock in the car read 5 minutes to 2.
Thankfully some of the neighbors we'd invited over for "peace talks" showed up that afternoon. So we had fellowship with pre-believers in the comfort of our home instead of at the church.
I guess a four hour church service was enough to commemorate God's work in Bulgan. It's a good reminder to me that God is at work wherever you go, long before you get there. This church was started by a Russian lady in 1994. Since then it has had many, many leaders. So many of them have fallen from grace, and out of ministry.
Yet the church and the testimony of God's people remains. He's still saving people and restoring them. One lady stood up and said that it was her first time to speak of her faith in front of everyone at church. She was nervous, but she testified that God had saved and changed her life. I told Lydia, who was sitting on my lap, that the lady had never spoken like that in church before. Lydia replied, "Neither have I". And it seemed as if she'd like to.
It's good to have fellowship with other churches. It gives a perspective that we lose when alway concentrated on our own fold. And opportunities for cooperation with God's people for his glory are an added benefit. This week the pastor and elder and a few people and I will accompany our CAMA doctor and team to a tiny countryside church. People will be seen by the doctor, and introduced to the gospel of Jesus, some for the first time.
Whether they find eternal life, or improved health, the renown of Jesus we hope will be shown. And the tiny fold of God's people that meet in that country church will be encouraged and keep following Jesus and proving him true and faithful in an unknowing and often resistant context.