To the Hills of Mongolia

Bayarjargal Garamtseren with new book in hand

When you have been working on a book, it is always a great moment when it finally rolls off the press and you have it in your hands. I was delighted to hear from Edinburgh University Press that my co-edited book Christianity in East and Southeast Asia was published a couple of weeks ago. With the current coronavirus situation, however, I have no idea when I will have it in my hands.

This made my joy all the greater when Bayarjargal Garamtseren sent me this photo of the moment when he opened the parcel and had the book in his hands, with the hills of Mongolia in the background. Bayar wrote the chapter on Mongolia where as recently as 1990 Christianity scarcely existed. As the country emerged from communism, however, many were asking questions about the meaning of life. For some 60,000 the answer to their questions has been found in the Christian message. The community of first-generation Christians represents only around 2% of the population but is vibrant and growing.

This is one of many unexpected developments that make Christianity in East and Southeast Asia a fascinating field to explore. In most, though not all, contexts it is a minority faith but also an influential one. There is a conviction and potency to expressions of faith that are often offered in conditions of adversity. If this does prove to be the Asian century, Christianity in this part of the world will be worth the watching.

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