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The Tenzin Lahkpa Story

In this excerpt from Leaving Buddha, Eugene Bach introduces us to the amazing story of Tenzin Lahkpa, a Buddhist monk who had a powerful encounter with Jesus the Messiah.


Tenzin Lahkpa and Eugene Bach, Leaving Buddha: A Tibetan Monk’s Encounter with the Living God (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2019), 206 pages, ISBN 9781641231022.
Read the review by John Lathrop.

When I began to write this book, my relationship with Tenzin Lahkpa (a pseudonym) was completely new. I met him at a lunch meeting in August 2017 in western China, where our Back to Jerusalem missionary team was discussing a project to reach out to the Tibetan people. One of the pastors brought along Tenzin, a former Buddhist monk, who shared his personal testimony at the table.

When I heard Tenzin’s story, I was speechless. I was so moved and inspired by his experiences that I knew right away this was a story that needed to be shared with others.

Tenzin is not the first Buddhist monk I have met who has come to Christ (although I believe the number is relatively few), but he is the first to allow me to share his amazing story. Every time I sat down at my computer to write his personal account, I trembled with fear, knowing that it was a special project—one I did not feel qualified for due to the challenges and intricacies involved.

The first challenge was to obtain a full version of his story. I had asked Tenzin to write down his experiences so that I could translate them and make his life story available to others—but what I received was a very humble, two-page biography! Additional information came during subse­quent interviews where Tenzin felt embarrassed and extremely reluctant to talk about himself. As a Buddhist monk, he had been instructed for years to remove any sign of self-identity in an effort to obtain enlightenment. Talking about his own story and focusing on himself was the exact oppo­site of what he had been taught to do. Furthermore, like many Christians living in Tibet today, Tenzin does not see himself as anything special. He is simple and unassuming. If you were to meet him on the street, you would most likely not think twice about him.

The second challenge was that I was convinced my level of facility in the Chinese and Tibetan languages was not high enough to adequately translate Tenzin’s experiences. Thus, this book was written from a series of interviews conducted in 2017 and 2018 by five of my close colleagues and translated from Amdo Tibetan to Mandarin Chinese and eventually to English.

Third, in October 2017, a political development greatly hindered the interview process and the challenge of verifying an accurate translation of Tenzin’s story. The Chinese Communist Party came together in Beijing and passed new oppressive religious laws that came into effect on February 1, 2018. Thus, the interviews with Tenzin were carried out illegally and in secret during some of the most intense crackdowns on Christianity in China in more than a decade.

Fourth, even after scouring the material and running it by Tenzin and the translators, I still felt certain there were things I had missed or did not understand that were important. I also thought there are things I might have misunderstood or translated incorrectly. However, I have checked and double-checked the facts and events in this story to the best of my ability.

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Category: Fall 2019, Living the Faith

About the Author: Eugene Bach is a pseudonym for a member of the Chinese underground church who does not wish to be identified. He was trained in U.S. military special operations and served two tours in the Persian Gulf and Asia–Pacific region, serving primarily as a member of a rapid response team focusing on targeted threat elimination, counterterrorism, and security. He has been working with the underground church in China for about twenty years, helping them to establish forward mission bases in closed countries around the world, including Iraq and Syria. Eugene leads the Chinese mission movement called Back to Jerusalem, which provides essential support for Chinese missionaries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He is the author or co-author of I Stand with Christ: The Courageous Life of a Chinese Christian (2015), The Underground Church (2014), Leaving Buddha: A Tibetan Monk's Encounter With the Living God (2019), Jesus In Iran (2015), and other books about the underground church in places like China, North Korea, and Iran.

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