|Mario and Boldo clowning around - 2010
We met Boldo when he visited our church in South Africa. We had only heard of him – he had replaced Rob Forbes (a brilliant friend of ours) as the lead pastor of the church in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city.
He was larger than life. Not only a man who sought after God, Boldo was someone who had walked down the mean streets of life and survived. He had a persona that was easy to respect, since he knew God’s word and loved God’s people. His young wife, Ganji, spoke fluent English and had just a baby girl that looked just like her. We loved them immediately.
In the front yard of our house, Boldo challenged Mario to a wrestling match. I almost forbid the activity, knowing Mario to have super-human strength that usually wounded our friends. Instead, I just decided to go inside and have a cup of tea with Ganji. After about an hour, the men joined us at the table, sweaty and smiling.
“This guy is amazing,” Mario said, obviously worn out from physical exertion. “Don’t let his size fool you, he is the strongest guy I’ve ever wrestled!”
I looked at Boldo, who was busy explaining the same thing to Ganji in their language. Ganji looked at Mario and smiled.
“You beat him?” She seemed shocked.
Mario laughed. “Is that what he told you? He should have said that he taught me how to wrestle Mongolian style until I could finally learn the basics. FINALLY I beat him!”
The next morning, Mario struggled to get out of bed. “I’m so sore…” he said. “But I can’t let him see me limping today.”
I rolled my eyes. Girls never have these conversations with themselves.
A year later, Boldo and Ganji invited us to Mongolia to host a marriage conference. We jumped at the chance to go – and saw the Mongolian church close up.
Living in the upper Asian quadrant of the 10-40 window, Mongolia is primarily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. When we got there it was easy to see the cultural community the church lives among: reserved, stoic, sometimes hopeless. In contrast, we found the church in Ulaanbaatar to be filled with the Holy Spirit, a huge blessing and light to all around it. The church received us with so much love and respect that it was hard not to fall in love with them. In the environment of seeing him as a lead elder, Boldo became different in our eyes: Pastoral, evangelical, nurturing.
There are some friends that share your heart so much that no separation can make us feel apart; Boldo and Ganji are like that to us. We respect their hearts so much and will forever see them as friends.
As Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed, so has Boldo. Today is his birthday, a day where I thank God for creating him. May more leaders just like him pursue God until they limp – we need more men in the kingdom like him.
|Boldo and Ganji (and baby)