Meet Loknath Manaen, Director-Nepal
During a recent visit, we sat down with Loknath to learn more about him. We think you'll enjoy taking a closer look at his life and ministry.
Loknath Manaen is the director of Back to the Bible's Nepali ministry. He lives in Kathmandu's twin city Patan, in the busy little town of Jawlakhel, District Lalitpur.
Full name and meaning:
Loknath means leader of people. My mother fancied that name when she heard her friend was going to give that name to her baby.
I met my wife in Darjeeling. She is also from a Christian family. We were married in 1973. I had worked in Nepal at different times in 1971 & 1973. But Rosie my wife urged me to take up the challenge of establishing the Bible Society in Nepal in the year 1977 (which was a hard time for Christians in Nepal). Ever since, I have lived in Nepal. My father was an MP from the congress party in India for two terms. He had close ties with the congressional leaders in Nepal and worked in Nepal in the revolution of 1951 to overthrow the old Rana regime. He gave up politics in 1967 and worked in Minneapolis in a mission office. He retired and now works in the Darjeeling and Siliguri area as a pastor at large among the Nepali congregations.
I have two daughters. The younger is married and has just become a mother. No pets, but I love all animals, especially dogs. As it is hard to keep a dog in the rented flats, I enjoy petting them wherever I meet them. I like holding snakes when I find them--much to the chagrin of Rose my wife.
How you came to know the Lord:
After my graduation, I had gone to Calcutta to live with my Auntie and work there. Before that I was not a churchgoer in Darjeeling. Personal salvation was not a real issue in the old Presbyterian church in my hometown. My auntie was a faithful member of the Carey Church in Calcutta. The director of YFC (Youth for Christ) came in contact with me and told me about the Lord. As he opened the Bible and led me through the verses on my salvation, everything became clear in seconds. I gave my heart and life to the Lord (1969). I also began composing songs of my Christian experience.
From 1973 I was engaged by the Bible Society in India to work on the common language translation of the Nepali New Testament and later to revise the Nepali Bible which had been out of print and out of date since the 40's. The committee from Darjeeling (along with a few people from Nepal) was taking ages to complete the work. So I and another member of the committee were engaged to work on war footing to revise the Bible. That was completed, printed and released in 1976.
In 1977, a committee was formed to start the Bible Society work in Nepal (previously under BS India). I was interviewed and invited to establish and develop the work. So I headed the work of the Bible Society in Nepal in the context of a very small and young struggling church in Nepal from 1977 to 1995 and then opted to step down to engage in writing and music. I would say my major contribution would be the second major revision/translation of the whole Nepali Bible from 1988 to 1994 (as the coordinator of the project and director of BSN).
When did you start with Back to the Bible?
In 2000, Dr. Frank Suttle, the India Director, came to Nepal and was in touch with me. His brother-in-law (I later realized) Dr. Pavamani in Calcutta had mentioned my name to him. We began to work on program production through TWR, but the work came to a halt in November 2006. In August 2007, the work in Nepal came directly under the Lincoln office after the personal visit of Dr. Arnie Cole. Hence, my responsibilities have changed in the sense that we have defined authority over us. We have been advised to establish a proper office & recruit a full-time coordinator. We have begun production of programs again with a view to engage in full-time, nationwide broadcast of radio messages that are designed to bring our listeners to the Kingdom of God and provide them the necessary nurture through literature and personal care.
How the Bible has changed your life:
In every way. It is the heavenly food and drink that influence the health of my inner life and spirit.
Favorite Bible passage:
Favorite Bible story:
Zaccheaus, on whom I have written a long story for a magazine in four parts. Why? I love to imagine what went through him. Taken by surprise by Jesus as he had to suddenly become the host for Jesus from the role of a common (hidden) spectator. Just imagine for how many years or generations that was the talk of the family.
Greatest struggle growing up:
As my father was in active politics in Darjeeling, I feel now I missed his direct input into my life. I was struck with Bell's Palsy at age five, so my father refrained from putting me in school in the early days so I wouldn't be bothered by others. So my educational foundation was weak. However, God allowed me to complete my Bachelor's degree. My years in school and college totaled nine years.
About the people of Nepal:
The people are family-oriented but now most people are having to move away from the village homes either to big cities or overseas for job in the Gulf countries, Malaysia, Korea etc. Life is hard for the average Nepali because of many years of conflict (Maoist People War). People are hungry for God's Word--in every country where they work, new fellowships have mushroomed. Malaysian churches have approached this issue seriously and have started proper mission work among migrant workers from Nepal with good success. That is true for Korea too.
The one place in Nepal you would take a visitor:
The temples--there are lots and lots of them (they blinded the people to make them so poor).
What makes you the most proud of Nepal:
I have seen the people agreeing to and adapting to the biggest political changes in 240 years. Nepal is now a republic. The people--and by a very big majority in parliament also--voted to make Nepal a secular state from a Hindu State. There is a new national anthem. Now they are writing a new constitution to move towards a federal system. These changes were introduced after some years of armed conflict. Even though now there is new conflict of interests, I believe ultimately Nepal will make it.
Interesting or funny fact about you:
Good question. My mind is so filled with humor that I often have to restrain.
Other places you have lived besides Nepal:
I was born in the border district of Darjeeling in India where our forefathers came from East Nepal and settled in the town to work in the tea gardens. My grandfather was born there and became a Christian in his teens a hundred years back. My mother had prayed while I was a little child that one day I could go and work in Nepal.
I am collector of books and material on Norman Rockwell. I have probably all his works in hand from Rockwell calendars. I am a collector of air sickness bags too. I count on friends who travel to pick up these bags as they remember (I am not a big traveler).
If you had a random day off, what would you do for the day?
Take a bus, get off at the foothills of a trekking route and start walking for three hours or so--for total solitude and a nature walk.
Do you have a nickname?
I'm called Bhailok by some family members still. But Lok by most friends.
Any western dish.
Least favorite food:
Anything with a lot of oil and spice.
Favorite book (besides the Bible):
I am a poor reader of books & a poorer retainer of what I read. Almost all my reading and writing is confined to the Nepali language. I tend to read articles more.
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