85% of evangelical churches around the world are led by pastors with little or no formal theological training, according to Training Leaders International (TLI). Mongolia is one of those places, and their church leaders represent the first generation of evangelical Christians. In October, Pastor Sam Andres, King’s Cross Church, Defiance (Ohio), joined TLI staff to train 26 church leaders in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

King’s Cross Church desires to plant healthy churches in their region and around the world, and Pastor Sam Andres possesses a missionary’s vision for the world. When the opportunity to join TLI for a week presented, teaching Mongolian church leaders, they saw it as a perfect fit. Andres said, “We want to see healthy churches planted that are biblically rich and teaching the scriptures accurately, in this country and around the world. That’s why we love TLI. They don’t just plant churches. They plant healthy churches.” During his week in Mongolia, Andres taught TLI’s curriculum for the gospel genre, using the Gospel of Mark.

Most Mongolians identify as Buddhist or non-religious while Christians represent only 2% of the population, so class discussion centers around questions like, “How would you teach this to your Buddhist neighbor?” Many of the trainees sacrificed time off of work and drove long distances to participate in the week-long training, a sacrifice that they will repeat 8 more times to learn the entire Bible. One trainee who ministers to Kazakhstan Muslims drove 30 hours. While in class, the trainees study from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., listening to lectures and breaking down passages.

TLI provides 9 modules, from Genesis to Revelation that their staff teaches along with a trained pastor, seminary professor, or graduate student. As the students study the Bible in their own language, they learn principles that will help them teach it to their churches.