Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 25, 2009

The Reindeer People

Reindeer People

The Reindeer People of Northern Mongolia

   The sky was clear and the weather was cold as we boarded the small twin-prop airplane in UlanBator, Mongolia in March 2000. As I sat down and shoved my backpack under the seat in front of me, my thoughts turned to the Tsaatan People we would soon meet in the mountains near the Siberian border. One year earlier, my friend Jerry Smith had e-mailed information and photographs of these nomadic reindeer herders. The people live in teepees in the mountains and move several times a year with their herds. “The Reindeer People need to hear the gospel,” Jerry wrote in his e-mail. His letter and the photographs of the people were like a Macedonian call. A year later I found myself looking out the window as the propellers on the airplane that would carry our team to northern Mongolia began to rotate.

   Once we landed we loaded our supplies onto four-wheel drive vehicles and began a twelve-hour drive to the north across the frozen steppes. Later we would travel on horseback as we continued our search for the nomadic reindeer herders. As we bounced along hour after hour we talked and wondered about how the people would respond to the good news of God’s love. When we finally reached one of their camps in the mountains, we felt as though we had traveled to the ends of the earth. We could hardly believe our eyes as the people welcomed us into their camp.

   While with the people, we showed the Jesus Film to a small group huddled in a teepee on a night when the temperature was below freezing. The people — who have no access to the gospel — watched and listened to the story of Jesus in rapt attention. At the conclusion of the film eight out of twelve adults in the camp placed their faith in Christ for salvation. Eight adults chose to submit to the will and reign of God in their lives. We rejoiced that the kingdom of God had new citizens in the remote mountains of northern Mongolia. God is at work in the world by expanding His kingdom, often in unseen but powerful ways, to accomplish His purposes and extend His rule.

   Everybody deserves an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. However, whether those individuals live in northern Mongolia or in your own neighborhood, they may not hear unless we are willing to venture across remote landscapes or walk across the street. Let’s be intentional about making Christ known, one person at a time. Be willing to share your personal story and to open the pages of Scripture to help others understand why Jesus came.

• • • • •

Note | Learn more about the Reindeer People (and see photos) by reading In Search of the Reindeer People, an article I wrote for HomeLife magazine in December 2001.


  1. Omar, I find it easy to identify with you because I have been to many of the remote places you have visited. I do this in my work but seldom venture to the spritual elements you are dealing with. I normally get reconnected to this at home when I am comfortable.

    I just got back from Luanda Angola. My wife put a Valentine card in my bag which I found about two days later burried under my socks. She included some small cards about scripture and Jesus which were intended for me.

    So when I packed up and left the staffhouse heading for home, I decided to place these things around the room where they would be noticed. Like above the light switch and so forth.

    I did very little for Christ on this trip, but at least I could do this.

    I could use some help on my travels. My company does not want me to become involved in local issues but at the same time I am driven to understand the situation and help even in little ways. I do this to some extent, like giving food to the children who reach through drain holes under the wall.

    But I would like to do more. Do you have any suggestions?


  2. Tim…

    Thanks so much for being sensitive to the needs of others and for doing little things for them as you travel. If each of us did more little things along the way we would begin to see big differences in many places. I have learned to never underestimate how God can use a Scripture card, a rupee given to a beggar on the street, or even a smile. Keep doing what you are doing. The world is starved for simple expressions of kindness done in Jesus’ name.


  3. Thanks for the reindeer people, thanks for writing about those people, I am learning about them.


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