Within a day of hitting the market, all 10,000 copies of the newly translated Mongolian Bible were bought by eager churches and Christian organizations.

One missionary, looking at the empty storage site that had been full of Bibles the day before, said, "I felt like Peter at Jesus' tomb."

Great Commission Christians worked for eight years to translate the Bible into the Mongol language. Translation of the New Testament began in 1991, and the Old Testament was finished last year. The completed Bible went on sale in August.

The Mongolian church has experienced explosive growth during the last 10 years despite governmental persecution. In 1991, there were fewer than 50 Christians in Mongolia. Today Mongolian Christians may number as many as 10,000.

For security reasons, International Mission Board missionaries could distribute the completed Bibles only to individuals they personally knew.

"Pray that more copies of the whole [Bible] arrive soon," one Southern Baptist missionary said. "The first 10,000 [copies] have been distributed, but since many churches and organizations bought those, many people don't have a chance to get one unless they know some of these churches and organizations."

Although the missionaries are prohibited from distributing Christian material in mass amounts, Mongolians can technically legally can hand out Bibles among their own people.

Christianity experienced a setback this summer when Mongolia's former communist rulers swept back to power. Observers fear hard-line communist ideologues may reverse the freedoms—including religious freedom—that Mongolians have enjoyed since a peaceful democratic revolution in 1990.

"At times [Mongolian Christians] come under legal persecution," an IMB missionary said, "but recently their persecution has lessened. We're not sure what the future holds, though."

Related Elsewhere

Many workers from various organizations define themselves as Great Commission Christians. To read more about the Global Evangelism Movement, click here.

Visit the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Montsame, the Mongolian national news agency, offers stories in both English and Russian.

The Mongolia Society boasts resources like a Mongolian/English dictionary, Mongolian musical recordings and books and papers in the Mongol language.

The U.S. State Department's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released last week, has more information about Mongolia's religious freedom record.

Previous Christianity Today stories about Mongolia include:

Mongolian Translators Discredit 'Religious Detention' Documents | Identity and whereabouts of Christian Marat Kojash still unconfirmed. (May 17, 2000)

Mongolia Gives Local Christian 13-Year Prison Sentence | Ethnic Kazakh indicted for 'wrong religious propaganda' (Jan. 15, 2000)