In 2015, Charlene and I were privileged to have dinner with John and Sangi Van Lal, veteran Friends missionaries to Nepal. John explained the circumstances after a series of earthquakes had rocked their country. He was excited that some of his pastors and leaders from Nepal and Bhutan were anticipating opportunities to immigrate to the United States. I connected several times after that visit with Van Lal’s daughter, Georgina Thiak, who is a social worker in Kansas City, MO.
Soon after the Van Lal visit, Pastor Dal Bey (DB) Tamang and his family arrived in the U.S. We connected with them as they were called to start a new church plant in Ft. Worth, TX. Early in the beginning of Living Friends Church of Ft Worth, TX, Pastor DB, and wife Sangita, and their adult children, daughter Neema and son Silas were able to attend our Pastor’s Sabbath Retreat in Colorado. Pastor DB had given me a contact for one of his disciples from Kathmandu, Nepal, who was arriving soon and desired to plant a new Friends Church in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area in Minnesota. Following Ministry Conference in 2016, Charlene and I traveled to Canton, OH, for Eastern Region YM and connected with Norbu Tamang, pastor DB’s older brother who had planted a new Friends Church in Columbus, OH, and several others since.
From Canton, OH, we traveled up through Illinois and Wisconsin to meet with Pastor Kumar Tamang and his family, now residing in the northeast St. Paul suburb of Roseville, MN. After meeting Kumar and his wife, Sabita, and their two sons, Amrit, a 2nd year college student studying engineering, and son, Samuel, a high school freshman, we were graciously entertained and dined to a delicious Nepali/Bhutani meal. Kumar was born in Bhutan and did his ministerial training in Nepal with John Van Lal and his team. Soon afterward, Kumar was able to cast a new vision to plant a St. Paul, MN, Friends Church.
With the help of Pastor Jonathan Harkness of Northbranch Friends Church in Burr Oak, KS, Home Missions Chairman here in EFC-MAYM at that time, we traveled through our Journey Toward Maturity steps to assess our planting couple and provided a comprehensive report of strengths and potential weaknesses to use as a guide for future coaching. We then recruited a Partner Advisory Team (PAT) to oversee this new work meeting monthly via an internet conferencing platform. Eastern Region Friends Pastor Mike Dennis of Riverbend Friends Church in Tecumseh, MI, took the reins as PAT chair and Pastor Richard McKay from Hay Springs, NE Friends Church of Rocky Mountain YM, and Mid America Pastors Lazarus John from All Nations Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Jon Harkness and myself comprised the St. Paul Friends PAT. Walt Mills from Stanwood Friends Church had valiantly been through training and certification for his study and practice and stepped in as Kumar’s New Church Planting Coach. Walt continues as an excellent coach, guide and supporter over these years. My thanks to each of these leaders who Kingdom-mindedly reached across our Yearly Meeting boundaries to pray and support this new Friends work in Minnesota.
Pastor Kumar is a bi-vocational planter who has a full-time job for the city of St. Paul, coordinating the Nepali/Bhutani immigrant community senior citizens with needed services. Sabita is a full-time health care worker in their city and the sons work, as well as excelling in their studies. Kumar has worked with the local church pastors where they rent worship space at Galilee Lutheran Church. He was granted permission to organize and cultivate a Community Garden on the church property, where Kumar manages and serves many, inside and outside of his own church family. He also has had opportunity to guide and counsel other pastors and leaders around their city in developing similar ministries.
Pastor Kumar Tamang and the other Friends leaders from Nepal and Bhutan continue to open other doors for ministering to their family and friends across the United States. Pastor Kumar has opened the opportunity for a Friends church affiliation with a congregation in Fargo, ND. In the next weeks, we will visit to determine the feasibility of this new congregation joining with the churches of EFC-MAYM. Please pray for wisdom and guidance for all concerned in this effort due to Pastor Kumar Tamang. We praise God for his leadership and faithfulness.
Director of Multiplication Ministries