Words: Carolyn Waldee ’18
Photos: Tony Hughes
Born and raised in the predominately Buddhist culture in Mongolia, Amraa Jargalsaikhan M.A. ’23 was far from home when he first heard the gospel. Sitting beside his foreign exchange program host mom at her church in Salem, Oregon, Jargalsaikhan locked eyes with a visiting evangelist pastor who began to prophesy over him.
“He said God would come into my life . . . just hold on to God, and he will take me to places I’ve never seen,” Jargalsaikhan said. This moment, he believes, is what first opened his heart to Christ.
But it wasn’t until Jargalsaikhan returned to Mongolia—after a visa denial prevented him from starting pre-med studies at Oregon State University—that his faith really became his own. Early on New Year’s Day in 2006, cold and tired from a night of festivities with friends, he stumbled into a church to warm up and felt like he’d come home.
“Listening to a sermon in your own language—it just hits you in the heart, deep down,” he said.
Now, after over a decade of pastoral work in Mongolia, Jargalsaikhan is back in the United States pursuing his master’s in systematic theology at Wheaton. While the journey was not easy, he has seen God’s provision every step of the way. Jargalsaikhan and his wife welcomed a fourth child in September 2020, making travel delays due to COVID-19 almost a blessing in disguise. Moving a family of six overseas in the summer of 2021 was nothing short of a miracle, and here in Chicagoland, Jargalsaikhan and his family have even found a second home at a local Mongolian church. When the pastor began a second round of cancer treatments this past December, Jargalsaikhan was able to fill the pulpit in his stead.
“I think this is God’s timing that I’m here—to help the church out and be whatever I can be,” he said.
Jargalsaikhan plans to return to Mongolia with his family after graduation and is excited about sharing his new theological understanding with his home congregation. He believes Christianity in Mongolia—currently only four percent of the population—is on the brink of a new wave of growth, and often thinks back to those prophetic words spoken over him all those years ago in Salem.
“That’s how God took me in his hand,” he said. “His promises are alive in my life.”