Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Christianity in Nagaland - Tokavi V. Sumi, 5th Semester (English Honours), Tetso College




Nagaland having just recently experienced a tumultuous period over the ULB elections, we witnessed the intervention of religious bodies to help provide an interim solution to the existing deadlock. But what truly is Christianity in Nagaland? This thought provoking article reveals glaring observations and anxious thoughts of an anxious Naga youth witnessing the way we Nagas live by our Christian faith. Aware that societies are far from perfect and that humans are fallible beings, this Naga youth makes an appeal for humility and sincerity in our Christian state. 

Christianity in Nagaland

I am writing to express my opinion on the behavior and attitude of Christians in Nagaland society. Christianity is the predominant religion in Nagaland. Nagaland was Christianised in the 19th century by the well-known American missionary, Edward Clark. He is known as the first missionary in the Naga Hills from abroad. In 1872, Clark and his wife opened their first mission station in the Naga Hills.
In Nagaland, the number of Christian population is increasing rapidly with high church attendance both in rural and urban areas. We also see that many churches are reconstructed and enlarged from time to time because of revival crusades, conferences, and so on. We hear the word of God from many renowned preachers from around the world. During these programmes, we praise, worship, fast, pray in those programmes. My question is, after coming across all these activities, are we able to see changes in our society, i.e spiritually? Can we say that Nagaland is truly a Christian state?
In the past, I have observed church elders usually visiting and praying effectively for those families who financially support them. Whereas, on the other hand, for the poor, it is just the opposite. I'm not saying that everyone is doing the same thing, but I think a lot are. In the churches that I have visited, I have noticed that the first rows are always reserved for the elites: ministers, bureaucracy, and so on; and this is becoming the standard practice of the people which is not the will of God. In my opinion, the ones who come first should be allowed to sit in the front because in God’s eyes everyone is same. I believe that the first row should always be preserved for the old people who are deaf and blind so that they can hear the Word of God. But no one seems to put emphasis on the elderly. Certainly, it is not as though only the church elders are to be blamed but it is a joint responsibility — both you and I should be aware of it and correct this practice. What is happening to the people even after hearing the Word of God every Sunday? It makes us all seem like hypocrites. It is as if we have two faces — one for the church and one for the other half our lives. For instance, I have seen people selling goods and stuff in the guise of fundraising for the church, but there are some who do this for their own self-interest and profit. Such practices diminish the church’s reputation and shake a persons’ faith, while discouraging one from co-operating or aiding future church activities. And who are the ones doing all this? It is we Christians. In my opinion, one of the main factors causing such behaviour is that we lack 'humility' in our society. As a Christian, being humble is the most important character for a person. Our 'proudness’ has also become our weakness for it encourages us to look down on others, whoever they may be. I believe that we should try to become humble. But the question also arises why do we lack humility? Simple, because we always try to find 'shortcut' ways in everything we do; no matter the consequence. Most of us do not like to sacrifice our time and energy in one particular task; in fact, we tend to prefer the easy way out. Is the easy way out really worth it when we are tarnishing the church’s image? If all this continues, can we really call Nagaland a Christian state?
Dear friends, being a Christian does not always mean one must be holy and go to church. But one has to be humble, faithful, and honest. In fact, I should say that in order to grow spiritually even in terms of education, which is the backbone of the society, every educational institution should conduct fellowships regularly. Evangelical Unions can take the initiative. I believe if colleges and schools conduct fellowship from time to time, there will be some change.
As a Christian, I also believe that fasting, prayer, and fellowship are three most powerful weapons for spiritual growth, so I would like to encourage institutions to conduct fellowship programmes from time to time if they have not done so.
Through this article, what I really wish to convey to my readers is that one should first know how to lead a religious life, for I believe that living in harmony with the guidance of the Almighty is a life that is blissful and joyous. Moreover, it is not about changing the thoughts and ideas of people; rather it is about one's beliefs which ultimately shape us and the life we lead, be they good or bad. Therefore, we should also put emphasis on the religious life besides our daily work; and we should also have the faith that we can make a prudent difference in our own lives, as well as in our own society, regardless of the situation we come face-to-face with.

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

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