From the month of April, we are going to feature a Christian leader in our
“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.