Leading with God’s love
Meet local partner Dhana Lama, the first Nepali leader of United Mission to Nepal
Asia-CMS communications manager Suzane Christie introduces local partner Dhana Lama, who was appointed as executive director of United Mission to Nepal (UMN) in November 2021, the first Nepali to hold the post.
Dhana Lama first encountered the love of Jesus and discovered that she was made in God’s image 34 years ago – and she hasn’t forgotten it. This revelation shaped her character and set her on a course paved with God’s grace and faithfulness. “I became a Christian knowing that God loves us and created us in his image; this truth still motivates and excites me today,” Dhana recalls.
In fact, this is what drives her when it comes to mission – to love people and work against injustice, because all of us are created in God’s image and deserve love, respect and justice. Dhana leads with God’s love – listening to others with her heart and treating every person equally.
Proclaim and demonstrate God’s love
UMN, founded in 1954, is a Christian nongovernmental organisation (NGO) bringing together people from different organisations, denominations and countries to serve Nepal.
Inspired by the love of Jesus, UMN seeks to pursue peace and justice, make Jesus known and address poverty and the ways in which it stops people living in the fullness Jesus offers. It does this through health and education projects and holistic partnerships with other organisations in multiple areas of Nepal.
Dhana first came into contact with UMN when she received a scholarship for a paramedic course. “I witnessed people who had limited or no access to basic services for various reasons,” Dhana says. She realised then that she could contribute to addressing the issue and was stirred to go into full-time ministry. She subsequently served in a remote health post, followed by a position as programmes director, where she was responsible for leading the overall programme work of UMN. From the outset, she had a burden to proclaim and demonstrate God’s love to her people in Nepal. The mission of UMN echoed her heart.
An unlikely candidate
When she was first encouraged to apply to become executive director, Dhana knew deep in her heart that it would not be possible without God’s grace. Truth be told, Dhana never considered herself worthy of this position, as it was “a huge role with lots of challenges within and from outside” and one always held by a foreigner.
To the world, Dhana says, she was merely “an ethnic minority woman with no connections or links with people in power or position, came from a poor family, and possessed nothing that the world admires.” Yet, her faith was in a great and loving God who can raise her up. She knew that if God appointed her, he would surely anoint her to do the job.
“Faith in Jesus is the focus”
When she made the transition to executive director, Dhana, as always, looked to her Saviour to lead the way. She is now tasked with providing overall organisational leadership and management to ensure that the mission and vision of UMN are fulfilled, including both strategic and operational leadership of all UMN’s work.
The journey has not always been easy but it has grown her faith – not just in height but in breadth and depth because “faith in Jesus is the focus as we grow older – the higher you are in position, the lonelier it can be, so faith in God must be your only anchor,” says Dhana.