The story of this missionary family was very inspiring. They did great work for the Kingdom. I marked it down a few stars because it was heavy on demon emphasis, Satan attacking them etc. While I do believe Christians are ripe targets for spiritual "attacks" or "temptations" I don't believe every negative thing that happens in life can be or more to the point, should be attributed to demons. Nothing happens that God does not allow. We live in a fallen world, ripe with sin...sometimes the "demons" are just corrupt, sinful, humans, or normal events that happen all over the world to people daily, like disease, disasters, and even death of loved ones. And while these bad things are horrid to deal with, I have to wonder if they are just the result of living in a world polluted by sin. Anyway, I felt the heavy emphasis on being attacked by Satan and demons really detracted from an otherwise inspiring story for me.
Although I’m not a Christian and I didn’t really go for the talk of “spiritual attacks” or the author’s antipathy towards other religions or even other Christian sects, I did enjoy this tale of spreading Christianity (“church planting”) in Mongolia in the 1990s. The author’s stories of mixing with a culture much different from his own make for interesting reading for anyone interested in travel books.
(For example, he initially struggled to make any converts because, it turned out, his Mongolian Bible translation was using the wrong word for “God.”) The story about the death of his infant son, and how both his family and his nascent church coped with it, was very touching. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in travel stories, and especially to Christians.
The amazing growth of a church planting movement in Mongolia is recounted in this amazing study of starting and growing not just a church but multiplying churches.
George Patterson, who is a missionary that God used to multiply churches in Honduras writes the preface and explains one of the reasons this Mongolian movement was effective. "Many church planters follow such a long list of things to do to start a church that they fail to give top priority to the few essential activities, and end up doing so many things that the key, pivotal elements of church planting a buried in the plethora of work items."
This simplicity of church was a key to the growth and multiplication of house churches in this difficult area. The author, Brian Hogan, shares the two reasons why church planting movements do not take place: "One, what we are doing is too complex" and "Two, we don't trust the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer" (251).
This prioritizing of the basics is seen throughout the book. Here are some examples:
First, they effectively discipled the new believers which led to growth by multiplication.
Second, they trained leaders in the local church and thus avoided separating them from ministry in an ivory tower academic context (210).
Third, they passed the baton to Mongolian leadership at just the right time. Some would say that they should have never passed the baton but let the locals carry the baton from the beginning. However, this did lead to solid growth both in doctrine and life. Part of their problem was the fact that the initial conversions were among teen-age girls (95).
Fourth, they were able to transition from the teen-age girl substance of the beginning church to whole families in a way that made the church much more reflective of the Mongolian culture as a whole.
Fifth, they understood the importance of small holistic small groups for solid growth rather than large "celebration" type gatherings. They learned the importance of contextualization and avoiding cultural baggage from the Western approach to church. This led to the multiplication of churches rather than one large church and penetrated the culture and made discipleship more effective (124-126).
As a missionary family they went through some very difficult situations including the sudden death of a new born son. Even this terrible suffering was used by God as they modeled for the Mongolians "Grieving with Hope" (title of the epilogue 247-50).
I would recommend that all church planters read this book even if they are planting a church in a more urban or western context. Lessons learned through real life history are a powerful means of church planter training.
What an eye opener! My son has recently become a missionary and it has been very hard with him and his family being gone from my life! I miss my grandsons, son and daughter-in-law tremendously! But through the story of Brian Hogan and his family, the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes and heart to a whole new world of missionaries and what they are all about. It's not about me. It's about those precious lost people in the world who need to know Jesus. God bless the missionaries who are willing to give up their comfort and go for the sake of the kingdom! This true story brought laughter, tears, and much awareness into my "tunnel vision" mind. I even found myself praying for the Hogan Family as I read of their struggles in Mongolia. I had to remind myself several times that these struggles are long gone as the book was set in the 1990's. However, I feel like I know them and still want to pray for them as they work for The Lord here in the states. May God bless their currant work and continue to bless the Mongolians they served 2 decades ago. Great story, great book!