Hanok Tamang was the first born son of a prominent Buddhist priest in Nepal. As the eldest son, he was expected to follow his father in the Buddhist priesthood. However, as a young man, he became increasingly unfulfilled with the beliefs and practices of his religion. He began to question the beliefs of Buddhism. Through the witness of a college friend, he accepted Christ as his personal Savior. His newfound faith soon resulted in disfavor with his father, family and neighbors. He was eventually arrested and put in jail for his faith. He was also put in stocks as a public humiliation and warning to others. At that time Nepal was the only officially Hindu Kingdom in the world.
As such, the laws forbid anyone to become a Christian, evangelize or be baptized. It was a 1 year prison sentence to seek to become a Christian. A 3 year sentence to seek to convert others. A 6 year prison sentence to baptize a new believer. So like most early Christian leaders, Hanok faced great opposition, rejection and persecution for his faith. But because of his spiritual commitment and leadership abilities, he became the pastor of the Aradhana Church (which means “worship”) in Kathmandu. In the following years, the church grew stronger in spirit and larger in number—in spite of governmental opposition and oppression. Aradhana became one of the 3 largest and most influential churches in the Kathmandu Valley. Pastor Hanok also was elected President of the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal (NCFN), which was the oldest and largest fellowship of churches in the country. He held that leadership position for 3 terms, longer than any other president. Under his leadership the influence of NCFN grew all across Nepal and into the Diaspora in other surrounding countries. JL has conducted scores of Pastor’s Conferences through NCFN across the years. So Hanok was the first Nepali that God sovereignly connected JL with on his pioneer trip to Nepal in 1989. As his first national partner there, JL and Hanok initiated the “Unreached People’s Project.” Over the next decade, that initiative resulted in the pioneer evangelism of many of the unreached people groups in Nepal, the planting and building of hundreds of churches, the construction of many Agape Homes for needy pastors and Christians, the building and funding of a number of Orphanages and Children’s Homes for the needy children, a home for Elderly widows, many relief efforts after national disasters, a unique outreach to “Base Camp” at Mt. Everest, and many self-support initiatives for local pastors and Christians. Many of those initiatives are still going on to this day and Nepal continues to be a major focus of involvement for JL, as does his on-going friendship and partnership with Hanok.
These pictures of JL and Hanok were taken on one of my last trips to Nepal. Also pictured are Hanok and his wife, Jamuna, who went home to be with the Lord this past year. These pictures were taken when I was enjoying a wonderful meal of Dal Bhat in their home. It was the last time I saw her alive. She was doing what she loved—cooking and extending Christian hospitality to the many visitors at their home, the Barnabas Villa, built a number of years ago by JL through the partnership of the “Barnabas Fellowship,” a group of businessmen and entrepreneurs who raised money for missions.
These 3 men have been the past Presidents of the National Church Fellowship of Nepal (NCFN), the oldest fellowship of indigenous churches in Nepal through which I have co-ministered since the very beginning. These 3 men have taken the church in Nepal from a hand full to thousands of churches attended by over 1 million Christians! They have also led the church through the fires of political and religious persecution to a place of measured freedom they experience today. NCFN was the very first indigenous Christian organization to be officially recognized by the Government of Nepal.