April 25, 2014
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Among Mongolia's nomads, water wells lead to Living Water
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In Mongolia, digging by hand through several meters of rain-sodden dirt and permafrost is the best way to construct simple but effective wells. Lined with wooden walls, and void of any moving parts, these low-maintenance wells will provide local herder families with water for many years.  Photo by Hugh Johnson.
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International Mission Board workers and Mongolian believers pray with laborers at the temporary campsite for a World Hunger Fund well-digging project on the grasslands of eastern Mongolia.  Photo by Hugh Johnson.
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A nomadic family extends traditional hospitality as they serve milk tea, noodle soup and goat meat to visiting International Mission Board workers and Mongolian believers sharing the Gospel.  Photo by Hugh Johnson.
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In Mongolia, districts of traditional tent-like homes called gers can be found on the outskirts of most cities. An estimated 60 percent of population in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital, lives in such districts that lack basic infrastructure and utilities but provide the only affordable housing for many urban migrants.  Photo by Hugh Johnson.
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Children of Mongolian herders play outside their tent-like nomadic home called a ger. For some families, the nearest neighbor may live miles away.  Photo by Hugh Johnson.
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Known in Mongolian culture as the "five treasures," the traditional herd animals of horses, sheep, cattle, goats and camels have been the mainstays of nomadic families for centuries, providing food, transportation, leather and wool. Mongolian cashmere goats produce some of the world's finest wool and its export provides Mongolia's second largest hard currency income. But as herds of goats increase, so does the risk of desertification.  Photo by Hugh Johnson.
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The five traditional herd animals in Mongolia, goats, sheep, cattle, horses and camels, provide income for herders to feed and clothe their families.  Photo by Hugh Johnson.
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Posted on Oct 8, 2012 | by Staff

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Southern Baptists will observe World Hunger Sunday on Oct. 14. More than $235 million has been given to the fund since its inception in 1974.

MONGOLIA (BP) -- All that can be heard for miles in the Mongolian grasslands are the sound of a shovel hitting ice and the voice of a woman telling an old, old story.

Bolormaa*, a Mongolian believer, tells the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish.

"I have a really cool story," Mönkhbat*, a young Mongolian well-digger who has just heard Bolormaa's account, tells his girlfriend over the phone.

Bolormaa, while checking the progress of a well being drilled with assistance from Southern Baptists' World Hunger Fund, tells Mönkhbat* and two of his co-workers how she has experienced God's love.

She tells the story of creation and how men and women can have a relationship with God.

Mönkhbat pauses from digging and looks up as Bolormaa says, "He gives you joy, happiness and love. ... No matter where you are, He is with you."

Two of the workers say they believe the Bible's message.

Bolormaa has journeyed to eastern Mongolia with her husband Batbayer* and Seth and Sue Walker*, International Mission Board workers whose service in Mongolia is supported by Southern Baptists' gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

The World Hunger Fund, a separate fund, provided the money for eight wells for eastern Mongolia nomads and their goat herds. Each well costs $3,250 and will help around 480 people in the Asian country.

Visiting earlier in the homes of men and women in the area, Bolormaa and Batbayer heard of the need for new water sources. Miles of steppe remain unused and uninhabited by Mongolia's herders because either there are no water sources or lakes have dried up, according to IMB workers.

"Sometimes there are some good areas for pasture, but people don't move in to them because there isn't a ready source of water," Sue Walker says. "Water of course is key. [Building wells] helps those that are struggling to get their animals fed and provide them with water."

Batbayer, Bolormaa and the Walkers show God's love by meeting physical needs of Mongolia's nomadic herders.

Many herders live in remote areas isolated from national and international news. Batbayer and Bolormaa first built relationships with herders by bringing them news from the city, strengthening those bonds by volunteering to help herders with chores.

Batbayer takes off work for several weeks at a time so he and Bolormaa can travel to remote areas to help the herders experience the meaningful life God meant for them to enjoy. Many nights, the couple and their 7-year-old daughter sleep outside in their rented Land Cruiser.

"It's our calling," Batbayer says. They hope that as their family relates to others, those families will also find a better life.

The Walkers love telling about the free gift of water Baptist Global Response is providing and the gift of abundant life God gives.

"The money is being provided by Christians," Sue tells them, explaining that Christians support BGR because they love Jesus and Jesus loves the herders.

Later, near the well under construction, the smell of goat meat fills a ger, a traditional Mongolian home. Batbayer, Bolormaa and the Walkers pull meat from the goat's jawbone, sip milk tea and chat with a Mongolian family the missionaries just met.

The couples talk about the new well under construction and how it will make watering their herds so much easier.

Soon, Sue feels a leading to tell how God gave her life new meaning.

The men sit cross-legged on the floor. One nods as he listens, the other leans against a wooden chest painted the orange color traditionally used in Mongolian homes. He rolls a cigarette as he listens. One of the men in the ger says he's read a book about Jesus before.

Seth tells how, as an 18-year-old, he felt something was missing in his life. His story drew the attention of one of the men's wives, who has been preparing milk tea and tending to her son.

"God filled the empty space in my life," Seth tells them. "Do you feel like there is something missing in your life?"

One man grunts affirmatively.

Seth asks the question again. The man of the house scratches his head, then agrees.

"God wants you to know him," Seth tells them. "What do you think about what I told you? Do you think it is true?"

"It's true," the man of the house says, looking at his hands. He's heard a lot of stories and he thinks this is truth.

During the ride back into town, the missionaries talk excitedly about what has just happened in the ger. Sue says she knows the visit was inspired.

"You could tell that they were really open," Sue says. "When I was sharing with them, when Seth was, and Bolormaa, they weren't looking away. They weren't twiddling their thumbs. They weren't acting like they couldn't wait for us to leave."

"They looked like the spirit of God was at work in their lives," Sue said.

The herders now have access not only to the water that supports life, but also to the Living Water that supports more abundant life.
--30--
*Names changed. Compiled by the communications staff of the International Mission Board. For further information about the Southern Baptists’ World Hunger Fund, visit World Hunger Fund. For information about the Cooperative Program, visit Cooperative Program; for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, visit Lottie Moon Offering. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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