I can’t recall the last time that we were in our American home for Christmas with family and friends. It has been many years. On one of our last visits, I do have a recollection of trudging down the railroad track with our grandson, Ethan…dragging a fifteen foot Christmas tree. We had to jump from the tracks pulling our prize cedar to yield to a rumbling freight train. I have a strong aversion to buying a Christmas tree and plastic trees…well, plastic is out of the question.
Our green, highly decorated sentinel stood guard by our glass door and tipped the ceiling of our den. And the fragrance…aaaah, that fresh aroma of cedar drifted throughout the house. The tree may have been a bit scraggly, but the smell was a thing of bliss.
Oh yes, there have been some sacrifices over these years…a few burdens to bear. But the honor of spreading the fragrance of Christ has far outweighed the things that we have “laid on the altar.” Paul said it this way, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14
Night-before-last the phone rang as we were readying for bed. It was a voice from the distant past on the other end of the call. “This is Saranamid…you remember Saranamid and Erdene-Ochir from Owerhangai?” “Yes, yes of course we remember! How could we ever forget?” These were our very first two Mongolian countryside friends and they walked into our lives over twenty years ago. Now, they just wanted to let us know that over these many years they had not forgotten us.
This is where it all started…in the obscure village of Jargalant in the mountains of Mongolia. The “Claim a County for Christ” project was conceived in this tiny town of less than a hundred families. We went on from Jargalant to “claim” over one hundred counties for our Lord and we are still counting. Partnering with western churches, foundations, families and individuals we claim these remote people for Christ and spend three years working in their area. Almost always a small church comes from this work and now there are growing numbers of little churches across the land where our teams have built into their communities and herding areas. Then, we move along to adjacent counties and start the process again and return periodically to old counties to encourage these young, first generation believers. We also work with the herders through their veterinarians. V.E.T. Net has touched lives through the veterinary ministry in virtually every one of the over three hundred counties in the nation.
Who could possibly be more blessed than Frances and me this Christmas season? Now, we have thousands of friends from across this entire nation of Mongolia. True, we have given up the tantalizing smell of turkey roasting in the oven, but we have been given the distinct honor of taking a “whiff” of Christ to the “ends of the earth.”
If you want to hear more from the Mitchums, check out their webpage and sign up for their prayer letter.