Restoring the memory of those who died in Christ in the cause of the Gospel
In 2018 we learned that in 18th centuray there were British missionaries working in Buryatia, who laid down their lives for preaching the Gospel to the Buryat people. It touched our hearts, and we decided to find their burial place. We gathered a prayer team and moved to the village, to the place of burial of these people. When we arrived there, we searched for this grave for a long time, and, having found it, we saw desolation – the mounted cross and the wooden fence had burned: there was nothing except the half-destroyed brickwork. In our hearts there was a desire to restore this place, because we realized that these missionaries are people from the cloud of witnesses. We took a stone, made a memorial tablet, a cross, restored the fence .. And with prayer we restored this place with reverence to the people who were the first to die for Christ in Buryatia. Not only the Russians but also the Buryats participated in the restoration, and we saw how valuable it was for them.
Here is some historical background of the life and ministry of British missionaries in Buryatia and Transbaikalia.
The English spiritual mission in Transbaikalia was the Protestant spiritual mission of the London Missionary Society, which operated in the Transbaikalia in 1818-1840. It is known for considerable work in the compilation of textbooks and dictionaries of the Mongolian language, publishing and dissemination of education among the Buryat population. In 1796 the London and Scottish missionary societies were established. In 1805, Emperor Alexander I signed the Law on Religion, which gives freedom of preaching to churches and societies that received official registration in Russia. The Scottish missionary society in the North Caucasus received the right for “… the conversion of adjacent Moslems and gentiles into Christian faith through the preaching and printing of Holy Books.” On December 26, 1814, the London Missionary Society decided to open a representative office in Irkutsk. In 1817, the first missionaries, spouses Stalibras and Ramn, arrived in St. Petersburg. Emperor Alexander I provided the missionaries with a loan of 7 thousand rubles, and allocated a plot of land for the mission in Selenginsk and 7 thousand rubles for the construction of the building. The emperor also issued a decree on the opening of the mission. In March 1818, the Stalibras and Ramn families moved to Selenginsk, which was close to the Chinese border, and from where the missionaries intended to enter Mongolia. At the end of January 1820, the family Uille and William Swan arrived at the mission. The Stalibrasov family already lived in Selenginsk, where the missionaries purchased a house and bred domestic animals, baked bread, made kvass, and also made their own candles. Juille opened a pharmacy in his house. The inhabitants of Selenginsk called him Roman Vasilyevich. In 1826, Sarah Stalibras opened a school for girls in Selenginsk, where crafts were taught, and governesses were trained. After the death of Sarah (February 6, 1833), her children taught at school. In 1827, Martha Covey (wife of Yuille) and her three daughters died of typhus. Of the 13 missionary children, only 8 survived. William Swan had no family; He often made long trips to Priargunya in the east of Transbaikalia, visited 18 families of Selenga and 11 families of indeginous Buryats. Local secular and spiritual authorities created various obstacles to the work of missionaries, suspecting them of political propaganda and espionage, not giving permission for baptism, but the missionaries continued to do so, despite the prohibitions The missionaries taught Russian, Mongolian, Manchu languages. Opened schools with the official status of the school, where in addition to general subjects they taught the Law of God, the Bible and other spiritual subjects of the Christian Protestant persuasion. Robert Yuill compiled Mongolian-Russian, Russian-Mongolian, Mongolian-Manchu dictionaries with a brief explanation of the words in Mongolian, began the Anglo-Mongolian dictionary, wrote Mongolian grammar in English, and for Buryats and in Mongolian, translated into Mongolian arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry and practical geometry. They taught local population history, logic, Holy Scripture, the Bible; Languages: Russian, Latin, Greek, English, Hebrew, Mongolian, Tibetan, Manchu, Buryat language and its dialects. After the death of Emperor Alexander I (1825), the state policy in relation to all foreign spiritual societies changed. The Russian Bible society and all its regional representations were liquidated. In 1835, the Scottish and Basel foreign Christian missions were closed.