To Work and to Witness: Kurt Bringerud Reflects on Life as a Missionary in Mongolia

July 2014

OCMC Missionary, Kurt Bringerud (center) shares the Orthodox faith as the relationships with his English students naturally grow. They ask him questions about his faith as part of the language learning process and he is then able to introduce them to Orthodox Christianity.

In a classroom in the Mongolian capital city of Ulaanbaatar, OCMC Missionary Kurt Bringerud teaches English to students from various walks of life. They are to Kurt as fascinatingly unique as he is to them. They practice their new language skills by asking one another questions. Bonds of friendship grow, which often leads to the one question Kurt hopes each of his students will one day ask, “What do you believe?”

Kurt teaches English professionally in Mongolia, but his job has enabled him to share something even more eternally useful than language. It has given him the opportunity to share his Orthodox Faith. Social norms are different in Mongolia than in certain parts of the United States. Discussions about religion and politics are not considered impolite, so some of Kurt’s students come to him with a voracious curiosity.

Often this curiosity goes no further than getting to know him as a person. According to Kurt, Mongolians, like many people around the world, are rather apathetic toward religion. But some, like in the case of Gerlei (ger-ley) a student that studied with Kurt for several months, are inspired to visit an Orthodox Church so they can experience Orthodox worship and Liturgy themselves.

Through the natural development of relationships, Orthodox Christians like Kurt have been able to invite people into the Body of Christ. Missionaries can be anything. They can do anything. Their trade or profession is not what carries the Christian witness. They carry the witness. They evangelize simply by being openly Orthodox Christian around others whether in an elevator, or in a classroom, or on a street corner.

This witness is needed in cities like Ulaanbaatar where there is only one Orthodox Church. Under the pastoral care of Fr. Aleksei Trubach, approximately forty Mongolians have been baptized in the past several years, but in a city of over 1.1 million there is much work to be done. According to Kurt, the work doesn’t end there but continues in keeping the newly illumined actively involved in the Church once catechism has completed and they have been baptized.

Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Mongolia.