On a Sabbath in 1993 three Mongolians joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church as the firstfruits of work started in their country by laypersons Brad and Cathie Jolly. What made this event special was that the three youth belonged to a people group without a viable Christian witness.
In 1988, while working on his master's degree, Brad took a job in the office of Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM). AFM, a privately funded mission agency operated by Seventh-day Adventist laity, recruits, trains, and sends missionaries to unentered areas of the world. Brad married Cathie in 1989 and together they trained to work in their target country of Mongolia. This land, once ruled by Kublai Khan in the thirteenth century, is surrounded by Siberia and China. Though still largely Communist, a new way of life is making inroads in this remote area.
The couple left for Mongolia in September 1991. They needed to know the language, and so they entered as students living in the dormitory of the main university.
In a land where the ground lies frozen most of the year, Cathie and Brad have endured extreme cold, food rationing, sickness, rejection, disappointment, and isolation from friends and family. Why did Cathie and Brad Jolly go to one of the most difficult places on the earth to work? They believed God called them. The gospel must go to all the world, and the church has a future in these developing countries.
Cathie and Brad made friends and held meetings in their small apartment. After two years two young women and a man expressed their desire to join the Adventist family. These young people became the foundation of the church in Mongolia. Recognizing an important breakthrough, General Conference president Robert Folkenberg traveled to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and conducted the baptism of the women. The man was accepted on profession of faith. And an added blessing: Folkenberg ordained Brad as an elder.
God's Word has spread around the world to many nations and people groups. Though the Seventh-day Adventist Church started in the United States, approximately 90 percent of its members live outside the North American Division, and most of those live in developing countries. In some of these lands enthusiasm remains high and evangelism fervent; in others Christian groups are sparse or unknown. But in all these countries evangelism must ultimately be carried out by the people themselves─dedicated lay workers. Even now those who joined the church in Mongolia (as the result of American lay missionaries) have become church leaders, teaching the gospel to their people. When the Jollys leave, Mongolians will be the leaders and evangelists. Young people make up more than half the population. The church will belong to them and their children.
Current statistics point to the church of the future as a youthful, multiracial entity. Elder's Digest hopes to provide resource material for lay leaders in developing lands as they seek to guide their growing churches in often hostile and difficult circumstances.