Powerful connections

Powerful connections

How four organisations worked together to change a Mongolian family forever

Imagine this story.

Once upon a time there was a nomad family who lost everything in one of Mongolia's terrible winters.

They moved to the city, with no money and no help for their disabled child.

A nurse found them and offered to help with therapy for their daughter. She introduced them to an employer who gave the mother a job.

A special plane carried a group of physiotherapists, offering more help for the child. The pilot brought materials so the employer could continue her business, and the mother could continue working.

Colleagues at the mother's job told her about Jesus, and she came to Christ.

It's rarely this straight-forward, but in Mongolia, these stories happen often. They demonstrate how Christians working together can powerfully bring change to one family.

A very bad winter

There are bad winters, and then there is 'zud'. If you're one of the 800,000 nomad herders in Mongolia, the zud is a death sentence for your livestock and family. Zud is basically a very harsh winter, where animals die from starvation and cold.

A spase mongolian landscape with rolling hills, and mountains in the distance. A single Yurt can be seen.

Although zuds should only happen every 20 years, in 1999, Mongolia experienced 3 consecutive zud winters, killing 11 million animals.

In the winter of 2010, 8 million livestock died, and temperatures dropped to -50°C for 50 days in row. 9,000 families lost entire herds while another 33,000 lost 50% of their animals.

Duruu and Doljmaa lost all 200 of their animals. Every one. They had no choice but to move to Altai to find work. They took their moveable ger – a round felt dwelling – and settled in a town with fences.

But this family didn't have a fence. They didn't have work. They didn't have their livestock to provide milk and meat. And they had a disabled daughter.

Meet Magda

Magda is a nurse. She's lived in Mongolia for 15 years, working with disabled children. She moved to Altai in December 2011 to start a centre for disabled children, where there was no centre before.

Magda craddles a mongal girl who has cerebral palsy whilst talking to her father.

Magda started finding patients through doctor's recommendations and word of mouth. Therapy for disabled children is not available outside the capital, which is 550 miles away.

Magda does home visits to teach parents exercises they can do with their children. Duruu and Doljmaa were still jobless when Magda began to come to their home twice a week to exercise 6-year-old Bilguun.


Magda's friend Edith ran a small programme called ArtisAltai, where Mongolian women are paid double the minimum wage to make felt products. She was taking applications for jobs, so Magda recommended Doljmaa. Doljmaa got the job.

Doljmaa is making felt angels for ArtisAltai.

The women are allowed to take their work home in the evenings, so Doljmaa's husband, who is Bilguun's primary caregiver, began to help with the felting. It turns out he has an artistic streak, and the family's income quickly began to increase.


MAF flies one plane in Mongolia. Our pilot works hard to reduce flying costs for missionaries and churches so they can avoid dreaded road travel, which can last two, three, or four days. When he flies to Altai, he often calls Edith to see if she needs materials from the capital for her felt project.

Pilot Ryan Van Geest doing flight checks at Tseel Sum airstrip.

Reaching the Light

Reaching the Light flew on MAF's plane to Altai with a team of therapists to evaluate disabled children, and met Magda, Doljmaa and Bilguun.

After evaluating Bilguun, the team decided they could help her if she came to the capital for therapy. Bilguun is blind and has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. According to one of the therapists, she requires intensive stretching and positioning. But there was hope.


In a very natural way, many women at ArtisAltai have come to know Christ and attend a home Bible study. They can't wait to invite new employees and give them a Bible. Over time, Doljmaa believed in Jesus and soon after, her husband did as well.

Four Christian groups and individuals working together + Jesus = changed lives.

A vibrant rainbow over a mountain range in Mongolia.