The Storm: A Journey through the Gobi

We would like to share a journal except from a past Gospel Expedition in Mongolia. It is inescapable for us not to remember the chill in our bones as we recall our time in one of the coldest winters we ever spent sharing the Gospel.

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — Snow falls on the dimly lit streets. Packed snow and un-shoveled drifts hinder bundled Mongolians as they walk clumsily in the blowing white-out conditions. They clutch their chests in a protective motion to fight off the -20 degree freeze. We look down on the scene from the heated flat we are lodging in and realize this is the last warm domicile we will have for some time. Tomorrow, we leave for the Gobi and will preach the Gospel to nomads scattered across the desert regions…

William Decker in full cold weather kit in the Gobi desert.

We never seem to miss the comforts of a comfortable life when we are out on the fronts, because life tends to be more exciting and full of opportunities. Even when the stomach is empty and the body is tired, we are content with being on the pioneering edge…

(Next Day) Moving by Russian jeep, we plow through the remnants of a dastardly blizzard into the Gobi desert. The sun is out and the sky is crisp. The horizon is empty of clouds, but we are warned of fast moving storms that swoop down from Siberia. A drop of 40 degrees in 12 hours is common, and gale force winds in such a storm will make the snow blowing against your face feel like fire against your cheeks. We drive for eight hours and find a small ger (mongolian nomadic homes) encampment. We exit the vehicle and stretch, and the Mongolian family comes out to greet us. They are kind to us and flash shy smiles as they rub their wind chapped faces for warmth. We are welcomed inside their ger and share the Gospel story while we eat horse dumplings with the family. The stove fire is welcoming, and as they stoke the metal pot with more logs, we share about the life of Jesus. A young man has a cross around his neck. He tells us he has no idea what the symbol of the cross means, as he only traded for it in the market because he liked how it looked. We then show him the picture book of the life of Jesus, and as he looks at the page with Christ on the cross, he rubs the crucifix around his neck tenderly. You can see the message settling in his heart. We pray with the family and lay hands on them for healing. They are so welcoming for such a rugged people. We travel from encampment to encampment and see the hand of the Lord work as we preach about Jesus and the message of redemption in Him.

Mongolian Nomad attending to his camels

…Days pass quickly and supplies dwindle. We take a calculation and because we have traveled so far, it will take us two days of hard driving to get back to the capital city— Ulaanbaatar. We bed down for the night in a ger with another family and listen as the howling wind sweeps across the desert. The howls and screams of the wind sound like a ghostly voice singing a warning. Very unnerving, yet also calming because we are in here, not out there. The next morning, we awaken to the hard flapping of wind and driving snow against the side of the ger. It is upon us. We gather ourselves and hunch near the stove with the other family members. They offer a giant leg bone of horse in a bowl and we cut off a chunk each, pass it around, and chew heartily. Everyone looks to the top of the ger with each violent gust of snow that slaps against the flaps. The temperature outside is a bone chilling -20, or maybe more. The temperature gage is tacked to the bottom when we leave it outside for a minute. We gather our gear, load the car and then de-ice the engine. It is a smooth process, and we take off in the blinding white out conditions. We speed through the desert for two hours feeling confident we can make it through the storm. The white becomes so blinding, we stop to look for our bearings. Blizzard vertigo sets in. Where are we? We drive with urgency, and then, like an oasis, we spot a ger. We pull in and realize it is one of the families we had already stopped at previously. We read the maps and talk to a convoy of other vehicles heading back to the capital as well. We set out with the other vehicles in a single file line. One-hour in, and one of the vehicles decides to turn back. We press on with the others and the wind begins to scream loudly in a demonic high pitch scream. Then—everything goes white. Voorom!Clack, Clack are the only noises we hear before we slam into a snow bank. Everything is still for a moment. Then the howls begin again. We open the doors, and a crackling of ice sealing the doors squeals like we were in a vacuum. The violet sky is a foreboding sign of the darkness soon to befall us. The Russian jeep is motionless as the wheels turn at high speeds slipping in the snow. The convoy is long gone; they didn’t even noticed they lost us. We dig with our hands and the one shovel to dislodge the jeep, but to no avail. Teeth hurt it is so cold…Can’t feel hands…Throat burns with ice crystals…Eyelashes frozen together…We say a prayer for guidance and life. Don’t want to die like this. Lord guide us…We walk into the storm. Can’t see the car anymore. Lord help us…Then “Look!” Our guide yells excitedly. There is something. We all make a yell of joy and look to the sky and point like a football player would do after a touchdown. Adrenaline pumping. Hope. It is only a small flicker of light, but it is enough. It is a ger.

Someone exiting the home and the flicker of the fire inside is what we have seen. As we approach closer, we see a car light as well. We are saved! We make it to the ger. Give a shake of the hands to everyone inside, and they bid us to warm ourselves near the stove. We eat, we preach Christ and we have survived.

Nomadic Mongolian Encampment

As we remember Gospel Expeditions like this, we remain steadfast in the knowledge that God is always there for us. He has guided us, protected us, and given us the opportunity to share His Word. Now, for over 15-years, we have preach the Gospel in over 100 countries and seen the power of God firsthand. In the years to come, we will be pushing even further into place and region where the Gospel has never been shared, and we will need your help. If Travel the Road has been a blessing to you, then please consider giving a monthly donation so we can continue to bring the Gospel around the world to those who do not know. It is with your partnership and support that we are able to do this work, and we are forever grateful. Partner with us and together we can reach the world. Peace be with you.

In Him,

Tim and Will