So we leave UlaanBaatar (the accents are on the ‘aa’ syllables) and head out on a 3.5 hour drive to the village of Dzuunharaa, where there is a prison where we’re playing. 45 minutes of the drive was on a dirt road through the steppe that I can only compare to the Santa Fe Trail.
Seriously, I am no longer certain all my internal organs are working properly from the bumpy ride.
Like any international gig, there are transportation issues, and we are scrambling to get set up quickly because we are a couple of hours behind ‘schedule’. That normally wouldn’t matter as much, but this is a prison, and they are a little strict. And armed.
So we set up, do the gig, and we tell them about the God who created them and loves them, and how they can begin a relationship with Him. 250 or so guys crammed together to hear us, and were pretty receptive. We don’t have any feedback about their responses on the spiritual side, but our hosts were thrilled at how it went. We could tell most of the guys liked it.
We finished our set, and before the ‘encore’, the prison ministry guy talks to the inmates for a few minutes, which, of course, we can’t understand. Then he gives out some Bibles, and the guys actually go nuts for this. Seriously – I have never seen anything like it in my life. Guys in a remote Mongolian prison, in a predominantly Buddhist nation where maybe 1% of the population are Christ-followers, nearly fighting over getting a Bible. Don’t know how we’d have ever brought more with us to give away, but we all wished we had.
And then, they sang to us. 250 Mongolian prisoners sang US a song as their way of saying ‘thank you’ for coming.
That moment, dear ones, is worth flying halfway around the planet for.