Tag Archives: Christian Ministry

Ambassadorial Talk: Jonah Yonjan

From the month of April, we are going to feature a Christian leader in our Jonah Yonjan Portrait
“Ambassadorial Talk” interview section. This time, we are featuring a prominent leader, motivator, mobilizer, youth pastor, and faithful servant of God. Yes, he is Jonah Yonjan. He has been with Operation Mobilization Nepal for past 2 decades working in various capacities. He served as a National Coordinator of OM Nepal for past decade. At present, he is pursuing his further theological and leadership studies in Manila, Philippians with his family. Meantime, he is also involved in the ministry.  Recently, I (Satya) contacted him online for an interview without asking him if he would be willing to answer some of my questions for the blog. Despite his busy schedule with his school, family, and ministry, he was ready for this project and sat down to spare his time to answer these questions. He is a man of grace.

ATS: Please tell us briefly about your family and yourself. What brought you here in Philippians? Will you elaborate a little bit about your involvement in ministry here?

I was brought up in a very devoted Buddhist Family. I came to the Christion faith at the age of 19. Before I left the country for Philippians, I have served the Lord in Nepal for 2 years as a Youth Pastor and 18 years with Operation Mobilization Nepal as a National Coordinator and ministering in the church as an Elder.  I am married to Niru Yonjan and have one son, Johnny Yonjan.

Since I came to Manila, I have been working with High School students. God has given me this unique opportunity to work with medical students from next year. On the other hand, I am pursuing a master’s degree in Leadership in the International Graduate School of Leadership.

ATS: What made you Christian? What was so unique about Christianity?

I grew up in a religious family; I always looked for a true God.  There was time in my life when everything was downhill. Then I sought for someone who could help me.  Jesus then came as my comforter and gave me a new life. God’s love for the sinners and his forgiveness of our sin through the completed work of Jesus on the Cross is so unique and unrivaled in other religions that the message became so real and appealing to me when I first heard it.

I think what is so unique about Christianity is that it is not a religion or mere “dos” and “don’ts” but a relationship with One true God.

ATS: What have been the greatest influences in your life to get involved with the Operation Mobilization (OM) ministry in Nepal?

Operation Mobilization is a movement, not just an evangelistic program. We strive to reach out to the unreached and unchurched people all around the country. Every Christian is a missionary, and there is no exemption for anyone to not to share the Gospel. It was this movement that had a greater impact in my life. So, I got involved with OM. And you too have great experiences with OM! (He was referring to my involvement and quite an extraordinary experience at that with OM Nepal in the past).

ATS: Do you still have a vision for OM Nepal?

Definitely. I have seen His faithfulness to me all those years serving Him in OM.  He has helped me build the National base office, National Leadership Development, Mercy Ministry, Skill development  with Agriculture training and National board as well as to see Nepalese young people into the mission with the Ship ministry. Now, I am taking a sabbatical year after 18 years to train and empower myself for future ministry. God willing, I want to see OM Nepal become the missionary sending base for Nepali Christian society. I want to see Ministry among the Muslims in Nepal, especially in Terai in its 8 different districts (Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mohatari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsha).

ATS: Do you still do personal evangelism? Can you tell us a little bit about your imprisonment during Panchayat (one party) system in Nepal?

Personal evangelism is the effective way to bring the gospel to the lost people. Therefore, I still continue with this movement.

I was in the east side of the southern part of Nepal with the team and our plan was to bring the gospel to the Maithalee community.  I think I have a good command in speaking Maithalee, the local language to communicate the gospel effectively to the local Maithalees. We had an open air ministry in the marketplace. During the ministry time in the marketplace, we asked people to join for the Jesus film show in the evening.  It was about 8 pm; one of the Hindu people went to the police station and reported about our ministry in the market place. The government officer and the Police came to where we were showing the Jesus film. They arrested me right at the venue. All the other team members fled, which I never thought about doing it. They put me to trial and was sentenced a month of imprisonment. That time, however, was also an opportunity for me to share Christ with the prisoners.

The allegation from the then Royal government against me was of converting Hindus to Christianity. That was not true though. I knew proselytizing was against the constitution in the then only Hindu kingdom in the world. I was only sharing my faith with people of different faith.

It took me almost 2 years to fight my case in the court. I thank God for the victory that he gave me over all those accusations. And I became a free man again.  While I was in the prison, they did not allow me to meet with other Christians. I was imprisoned and chained under the category of “A” level prisoner. This category points out the severity of the crime. I was a “Religious criminal”.

Thank God for the seeds that I have planted amongst the Maithalee tribe. Now, five churches have been already planted there and reaching out to many.

ATS: Over these years since you gave your life to Christ, you have been through many ups and downs. If you were to live your Christian life over again, what would you have done differently?

Well, in those days Christians were not allowed to meet and have fellowship. Christians were so afraid of the local government. I was also rejected by my own family for my faith in Christ. Religion was not free like today. I had to defend my Christian rights in the community and the government to emphasize that I am not a second-class citizen of the country.

ATS: Finally, what do you believe is the world’s greatest need today?

God is a gracious God and He still loves so much for the people of the world. The greatest need is to bring hope, love and peace.  Therefore, harvest is ready but we need more workers to reap harvest for the kingdom of God.


Be a Supportive Wife

Prasha Maharjan

I have heard time and time again that not every one is born a leader. There is certain truth to that when a person deliberately refuses the skill or talent given to him and not uses it. I have also been mistaken largely when people said leaders are ones who only lead and don’t do the work. I did not find myself in that category either mainly because I was never the one directing but doing, showing by doing. This warped meaning of leader was straightened out when I was working as an intern at my church and had to speak on the topic of ‘Hospitality in the church.’

I knew Jesus had a lot to say about leadership just as so many others know yet I dared to emphasize on the same fact that to lead, you first have to be a servant. All his life Jesus served and even to his death, he was eventually serving humanity. I dwelt on things that my pastor and so-called church leaders were doing; all of them were mainly serving. Thus, I concluded that if I want to be a leader, I first have to serve. I cannot be a leader if I do not have followers following me. And how can I lead if followers are not imitating me? Indeed, how can I have followers if I am not modeling? When Jesus led the disciples, he was in fact modeling with a mission in his mind. If my pastor and church-leaders are leading, they are actually modeling so their church members may imitate them. What a spot to be in though! A leader has thousands eyes looking at him, so to mess up means you might derail those thousand eyes.

As for me, if I were ever to be a leader I want to make sure that I know what I am doing. In the long run, I want to be a counselor, precisely a marriage counselor. As a newly wed, this looks like an ambitious desire. But ever since I became a Christian and were under mature/married Christian women’s discipleship and later mentoring, I saw one thing in common in them. All of them had an honorable married life. Their wisdom and counsel were genuine because the most important relation as wives was God-centered thus their counsel was stable and healthy.

My mission in life is that married women would desire to uphold a God-centered and honorable marriage. In Nepali culture many of our values are derived from Hinduism. The women consider their husbands as god and worship them. We can see some biblical parallels in this.  As Christians too, we are to honor our husbands as head of the family just as Christ is the head of the church, his bride. However, this picture is severely distorted in our culture. Women are oppressed and joy of being in the marriage is crushed. Yet I have hope that this important familial relationship can be redeemed in our culture.

‘Show and Tell’ is my favorite expression that I believe a leader should live by. As a leader I want to be aware that I am a person of integrity and character. Especially, in my work place my co-workers will be the closest that I work with and hypocrisy will be the first thing they will be critical about. What I model is what I can be demanding of. I cannot set a good example if I demand integrity when I am not myself. Secondly, my hypocrisy will also defeat the purposes of my counseling.

As a wife of a missionary or a church leader, the onus is greater on wives to be of noble character. One of the major reasons for closure of churches has been a lack of character in leaders. “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones,” says King Solomon in his Proverbs. But I also understand that this nobility does not simply come from my efforts but dependence upon God and His Word. Thus, being a genuine student of the Bible and follower of Christ is another characteristic of a leader.

I also cannot be a Mrs. Know it all. Leaders are also called to be perceptive and keen listeners. I should be as perspicuous as I can be when it comes to stating my goals but also should not ignore flexibility. Good leaders revise their goal as work progresses and as more input come from people they work with. A proud leader is hardly a kind of person, people would like to follow.

All in all, there are three streams of leadership that I want to be involved in the future and all the three go hand in hand.  I want to be involved in marriage counseling inside and outside of church. Secondly, in the stream of discipleship, I want to guide new and growing Christian ladies in their new journey. Thirdly, as a wife, I want to be a praying wife and motivate wives whose husbands are in ministry to support and pray for their husband’s ministry. I have seen ministries crumble due to zero or minimum support from a spouse. The biggest desire of my heart is that I can motivate women to pray for their husbands and their ministry.