Not many people in Nagaland would be familiar with the name of Rev Kaikho Hokey, but in Manipur, there are few who haven’t heard of this man of God. Rev Hokey, as he was popularly known, passed on a few days ago, aged 69 years. If you go to the Mao areas they will tell you of this man whose life has left a beautiful and gentle imprint on the lives of all who knew him or had heard about him.
Rev Hokey was one of the church leaders who worked tirelessly for peace during the terrible years of ethnic conflict between the Kukis and the Nagas in Manipur. He refused to give up on the work of peace building which took him and friends away from the comforts of home. Rev Hokey covered many miles travelling to village after village trying to bring God’s peace to the two groups of people who had been influenced to turn on their former neighbours just because they belonged to different ethnic groups. In a time when it was mortally dangerous for any member of a different ethnic group to be found in the other group’s territories, he continued to visit the villages and reach them with the love of the God he fully trusted. Rev Hokey was able to do this because before the conflict started, both sides knew him to be an honourable man. He was not denied entry to their villages. Even in the midst of killings and counter killings, and in the environment of fear for life and property, he did not give up on his mission. And he continued to work unharmed because there was such respect for the man of God. Bible passages like Psalms 91 are proved true by the stories of angelic protection in which Rev Hokey and his friends walked. Not being a boastful man at all, it was left to others to record what their efforts achieved – breaking barriers of hatred and bitterness with love. The respect that the different communities had for him was so wide spread because they all knew this was a leader without any ulterior agenda, a man who worked without any thought of personal profit.
I was told this story about Rev Hokey. The family house in Mao gate was a humble structure and had the simplest of comforts. Friends nagged him to build a bigger house. His reply was that he was building houses in Delhi and Bangalore. In his gentle way, he reminded them that his children were pursuing their studies in these cities and it was as though he was building houses by investing in his children’s education instead. Today all his children are grown and doing well wherever they are placed. They have inherited their father’s faith and continue his legacy of creating peace within and without communities. The idea of building a child’s future as carefully as one would build a house is something we can all ponder.
In the last months of his earthly life, Rev Hokey struggled with illness. He has gone home early at age 69, leaving a gap that will be very hard for any other leader to fill. But his legacy will live on. It is a legacy that is not only for his children or his church or his community. It is for all who hear of it to emulate. His life of noble sacrifice was lived because he believed that the gift of Christ’s peace was for everyone. He made it his goal. It is a goal any of our leaders can aspire to. It is the goal that Christ calls all of us to, not just leaders, but ordinary citizens.
Rev Hokey’s prolific life reminds me of the grain of wheat that died and was buried in earth so that it could sprout and bear a hundredfold and more. A life lived in such a manner is never fruitless. It bears much fruit and the lessons it carries is for all who hear it. What a great blessing such a man is wherever he is placed. May God inspire each of us to be such a blessing to our communities, no matter how humble our callings are. Rest in amazing peace, Rev Hokey, you have run your race so tremendously well.