No one told Batjargal Tuvshintengel there is a God, and it never really occurred to him to wonder as he grew up in a satellite of the former Soviet Union.
Now a missionary with an alphabet soup name, pronounced Bot-jar-gal Turl-sheng-single, the 43-year-old brings a loving God to listeners in his Mongolian homeland in partnership with a worldwide radio network based in Longview, Christ to the World.
“I really believe radio’s going to be the platform and the tool to bring Christ to my people,” he said. “It reaches the multitudes, and also because it’s a fad for young people.”
Mongolia had one communist-controlled radio station as Tuvshintengel grew up in a system that Americans old enough remember calling “Godless communism.” Tuvshintengel says that portrayal was dead-on.
“The communists tried to beat us to make us know there is no God, there’s no meaning of life, there’s no hope,” he said. “Everybody just works hard and tries to get by. That’s how we used to live until the gospel, and the Bible. It all makes sense — there’s got to be a God that rules and organizes the earth into one thing and into one system.”
That’s what Tuvshintengel thinks now. But, in his spiritually barren childhood, such things did not occur to him.
“We had no Bible and no belief system,” he recalled, sitting in a Longview Panera Bread during a recent visit to see Christ to the World founder Larry Alston.
A Longview business developer, Alston formed the now-global radio ministry in 2006.
“In a nutshell, we tell the story of Jesus to people around the world, and we do that by dramatizing the stories of Jesus,” Alston said. “And we bring the story of Jesus to people where they live.”
That began with broadcasts in eight countries.
“Today, we’re working in 47 countries in 33 languages to a population base of 3.1 billion,” Alston said. “With all this going on, we still have not been taken off the air in Baghdad. ... Even Muslims will say, ‘We like the programs, because they are not aggressive.’ Our programs are not threatening.”
But, the world is very threatening, he added.
“We just had four members of our (missionary) family killed in the Ukraine,” Alston said. “They beat them to death.”
The ministry has grown, Alston said, in partnership with the three largest Christian media worldwide: Trans-World Radio, Ibra International Broadcast Associates and Far East Broadcast International, the latter Tuvshintengel’s employer.
“They have the ability to reach the earth with their transmitters,” Alston said. “Our vision is the same as the three media partners — to honor the final command of Jesus, known as the Great Commission. Jesus said, ‘Go tell...’ That’s what we do.”
Tuvshintengel says his atheism could not stand up to after-school class discussions over tea with an English teacher who was one of the first five Christian missionaries in his country after Soviet Russia fell.
The back-and-forth format in which Tuvshintengel discovered God is kind of what he strives for at Far East Broadcast’s five-station network in Mongolia.
“We can actually change the radio format to be interactive — call-ins, text messaging, emails,” he said. “We have a lot of call-in programs where we debate the issue of faith. The main idea is we want to let them know that there is a God out there who loves them.”
The Bible says faith comes by hearing.
“Our understanding and our knowledge about God is not enough to know God,” Tuvshintengel said. “Faith is the only gateway to God. When you get that message out, people start using their brains to process the message.”
Having been a victim of indoctrination, Tuvshintengel said his mission is to broaden the experience he underwent, discovering God, to his fellow Mongolians.
“Our goal is to let people know who is God, what is the nature of God,” he said. “And God, in his nature, wouldn’t do anything to demand. In (cult leader) David Koresh’s case, or the Moonies’ case, it all depends on one thing — the leader. The leader has to be central, and the leader is supposed to be perfect. None of us is perfect. If you have people focus on you, you’re in trouble.”
Tuvshintengel, who met Alston in Bangkok, Thailand, a few years ago and added Christ to the World dramas to his lineup, has plans to open two more stations this year. That would blanket half the independent country of Outer Mongolia, population 2.8 million.
“We want to add more low-power radio stations, where we can put more programs like Christ to the World,” he said. “That’s what I plan to do in the next five years. I want to add as many radio stations as possible. And we are doing it, in partnership with Christ to the World.”