My first visit to church was in the ninth grade. The reason is rather embarrassing. I went because my best friend decided to sleep with her boyfriend.
But first my friend, Otko, asked for my advice outside our high school in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. I was just 16, but I was sure that she was making a bad decision. I told her not to do it. Then, just to make sure, I asked my older sister what she thought. My sister, who attended a Seventh-day Adventist church, went straight to Otko and told her to wait until she got married.
Otko was furious that I had revealed her secret. She said bad things about me to my classmates, and they started to ignore me. In a single week, I lost my best friend and all my friends at school.
I felt so lonely. I asked my sister if I could go with her to church. The people at church welcomed me. They were warm and friendly, and they taught me about God. After a few months, my classmates slowly began to talk to me again. They noticed that I was going to church, and they asked, “What are you doing? Why are you going to church?” I told them that I was becoming a Christian.
But I wasn’t so open with my parents. My parents are Buddhists, as are most people in Mongolia, and they were angry about my interest in Christianity. I kept attending church every Sabbath, but I hid that from my parents. Eventually I told the truth and discovered that my parents had known all along. They accepted my decision to get baptized.
A year and a half after Otko stopped being my friend, she came to my house one evening to acknowledge that I had been right. She sadly told me that she had gotten pregnant and had had an abortion. “But,” she said, “You are a heavenly person. I don’t want to lose you as a friend. I’m willing to even die for you.”
Otko didn’t know it, but her words are also in the Bible. InJohn 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (NKJV).
Otko and I are good friends to this day, but my best Friend gave His life for me.
Batdelger Battsetseg, 32, left, is the fifth-grade teacher at Tusgal School, the only Adventist school in Mongolia. This quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a boarding academy for the school’s 9th- to 12th-grade students, freeing up classroom space for more elementary school students.