Annually, a joint committee of Congress sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast. For many years, I represented them as the point person for Asia. One day I received an email from a friend in Japan asking me to invite an acquaintance of his to the Prayer Breakfast.
His friend was Dr. Lkhagwasuren Tserenkhuugyin who is the Director of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. I initiated contact, and we began a lengthy correspondence about the history and purpose of the Prayer Breakfast. That it was initiated by President Eisenhower in 1953, and annually since that date, the President of the United States is the guest of honor. Of course, in the beginning, I couldn’t pronounce his name correctly, but soon it was as easy as my own. However, he insisted that I call him Seren, which is his nickname.
I explained that the prayer breakfast is held in the Spirit of Jesus, and he asked, “Who is he?” When he said that, it reminded me of the experience an associate of mine had in Mongolia a few years before I met Seren. It was still an atheistic communist nation, and as a tourist, he was assigned a “Government Minder.” He was with my friend at all times and noticed that he was praying before meals. Trying not to be obvious, he asked my friend, “Have you ever felt God.” My friend said yes, and his “Minder” said, “What did it feel like?” My friend said, “It felt like Jesus” and the “Minder” said, “Who is Jesus?” After only a couple of hours of conversation, this man expressed a desire to follow Jesus. I have had the privilege of meeting him many times, and he is now a very serious and committed disciple of Jesus. He and Seren did not know each other but are the same age and grew up in the same culture.
Eventually, Seren agreed to attend the Prayer Breakfast in D.C., so we arranged to meet for lunch at the Coffee Shop of the Washington Hilton. We learned later about his twenty-hour flight, (Plus two layovers) which was obviously orchestrated by God. He flew from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing, but the next leg of his flight had a two-day weather delay. Eventually from Beijing to San Francisco with another one-day layover, then on to Minneapolis.
Mary Ann and I departed from Sacramento with a plane change in Minneapolis. When we got on that plane for our flight to D.C., she was in the middle seat, and I was on the aisle. I looked at the small man in the window seat, and he was definitely from Asia somewhere. I engaged him in conversation and had not yet asked his name, but since he was also going to D.C. I wondered, could this be Seren? So I asked, is your name Dr. Lkhagwasuren Tserenkhuugyin and he was visibly shocked and asked, “How do you know my name.” He told me later that he thought I might be from the CIA, which would have been normal back in his country. I then gave him my name, and we had a non-stop conversation the rest of the flight. Based on our earlier correspondence he continued to ask questions about Jesus.
Senator David Durenberger from Minnesota was on our flight, and I recognized him because I had met him several times at the Cedars. So at baggage, we chatted, and when I said we are staying at the Hilton, he offered to give us a ride. Seren told him that we had become unplanned seatmates in Minneapolis and said, “God was our travel agent and gave us our seats.”
We met Seren for lunch on Tuesday, and he was blown away by the size of the event and the fact that there were one hundred sixty nations represented. His questions were always very direct, and he wanted to know why Jesus was important to so many people. This led to hours of conversation on the couches in the lobby, the coffee shop, our room and on walks to DuPont Circle. He said that he didn’t quite understand everything we talked about, however he continued to show an enormous interest in the gospel.
We spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday together in attending the Prayer Breakfast, Seminars, Dinners plus lots of free time. I was able to answer most of his questions, but the Holy Spirit had not yet done the work of opening his spiritual eyes. I have met with a multitude of people like that, so I didn’t get frustrated or impatient. However, the intensity of his interest was as strong as I had ever experienced.
On Friday morning, we had breakfast in the Hilton Coffee Shop. I looked up and saw my dear friend Arthur Blessitt and his wife Denise, walk in. I called him over and said; “I want to introduce you to my friend, Seren.” As you may know, Arthur is the evangelist that has carried the cross in every nation and island group in the world. According to the Guinness Book of Records, he has walked over 42,000 miles carrying the cross and preaching Jesus.
I don’t believe it would be an exaggeration to say that less than a minute after I introduced them; Seren was on his knees next to our table surrendering his life to Jesus. Although he had never heard the name of Jesus until a few months before, the Holy Spirit helped him completely understand the gospel.
As we had previously planned, he stopped in California in order to spend a week with us. We had a delightful time that week, and several memories stand out from his stay in our small hometown of Grass Valley.
One thing I will always remember because he must have said it ten to twenty times. He kept saying, “I’m so happy to be in the family of God.” One evening as my wife prepared dinner Seren asked me, “Do you tell women about Jesus?” When I explained that Mary Ann loved Jesus as much as I do, he said, “Oh wonderful, I will tell my wife she needs Jesus in her heart.” A few minutes later, he asked, “Do you tell children about Jesus”? I told him that my two girls were raised from an early age to understand the good news about Jesus and that they had each decided to be His disciple. He said, “I can’t wait to tell my children what has happened to me and that they can also be part of the family of God.”
As we took him to the airport, he told us that his heart was filled with joy and that he had a strong resolve to help his family and the medical community understand how to have Jesus in their heart.
Wikipedia reports that in 1989 there were only four Christians in Mongolia. Today there are more than 50,ooo with evangelicals growing the fastest. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that Seren is a big part of that.