WHY MONGOLIA?  Mongolia is just as affected by its former Soviet communist past as the other countries where SON Network serves. Many challenges still exist and much work remains.

Bordered to the north by Russia and to the south by China, Mongolia is considered an unreached country and is largely overlooked by Christian mission organizations. Over half of the Mongolian population identifies as Buddhist. Christianity appeared in the country quite late in its long history. It was only after the end of Soviet communist rule in Mongolia, in 1990, that the number of Christians in the country started growing. While the Christian population of Mongolia was just 4 people, in 1989, it increased to 40,000 by 2008, and is approaching 70,000 believers, today.

The Constitution of the country provides for freedom of religion. The government generally respects this right of the people. However, religious organizations must register with the government to operate, and the registration process is often cumbersome and associated with bureaucratic obstacles. Although a few reports of discrimination on the basis of religion exist, the Mongolian society is usually tolerant towards religious differences.

In 2017, the Mongolian Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and has now grown to over 40 congregations. As a primarily Buddhist society, there are few Christian resources available, and most children have never heard Bible stories or about the message of Jesus Christ. SON was asked to bring the first English camp for teens to Mongolia. Due to COVID, we were unable to fulfill this request in 2020 and 2021 but are looking forward to bringing a team in 2022.

The Mongolian capital city, Ulaanbaatar, is the 5th highest in the world (at 1,350 m/4,430 ft above sea level) and is officially recognized as the coldest capital of the world, with an average annual temperature at a frigid -1.3 degrees Celsius (+29.7 degrees Fahrenheit). In winter, it sometimes drops to -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F). At the same time,  it is not uncommon for summer heat to spike at +40 degrees C (+104 degrees F)! Almost half of Mongolia’s entire population, of 3.17 Million, resides in Ulaanbaatar.

Regarding the written language in Mongolia:  Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, forcibly replaced Mongolian written script with the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, in the 1940s. The Cyrillic alphabet is still used today, throughout Mongolia.

Historical background:  The Mongolians first appeared during the 3rd century BC, when the Huns rose to power, first, in Central Asia and then headed into Europe to confront the Roman Empire. Later the Mongolians gained their most notable fame in the 13th century when, under Genghis Khan, ravaged and conquered the huge Eurasian empire. After his death the empire divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these later disbanded, in the 14th century.

The Mongols eventually retired to their original, high altitude, steppe homelands but succumbed to almost 200 years of Chinese colonization. Mongolia won its independence from China in 1921, with Soviet backing. The communist regime dominated for 70 years until the Soviet Union began to fall. Mongolia then embarked on a path toward democracy in 1990. Since that time Mongolia has undergone the transition from a centrally planned economy toward a market-based free economy.

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Country Snapshot

Area: (slightly smaller than Alaska; more than twice the size of Texas) total: 1,564,116 sq km (603,909 sq miles), 1,553,556 sq km (599,831 sq miles), 10,560 sq km (4,077 sq miles)

Population: 3,198,913 (July 2021 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.93% (2021 est.)

Capital City: Ulaanbaatar (altitude: 1,350 m / 4,429 ft)

Independence Day: Naadam (games) holiday (commemorates independence from China in the 1921 Revolution), 11-15 July; Constitution Day (marks the date that the Mongolian People’s Republic was created under a new constitution), 26 November (1924); democratic revolution (leaving the Soviet Union) in 1990

Ethnic Groups: Khalkh 83.8%, Kazak 3.8%, Durvud 2.6%, Bayad 2%, Buriad 1.4%, Zakhchin 1.2%, Dariganga 1.1%, other 4.1% (2020 est.)

Languages: Mongolian 90% (official) (Khalkha dialect is predominant), Turkic, Russian (1999)

Life Expectancy at birth: total population: 71.08 years / male: 66.88 years / female: 75.49 years (2021 est.)

Religious Groups:
Buddhist 53%
Muslim 3%
Shamanist 2.9%
Christian 2.2%
other 0.4%
none 38.6% (2010 est.)

SON’s Work in Mongolia

Life Camp for Teens

SON Partners:  SON Mission Associate, Pastor Purevdorj (Puje) Jamsran

Where we work:  Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

What we do:  Life Camps for teens (viw opportunities above)