S Lima Temjen
Former MLA, Dimapur
In history, the church has participated in governance and is still influencing decision making and policy making in many states/countries, eg. Prohibition in Nagaland and anti-abortion move in the U.S.A. The Bible says when the righteous rule, the people rejoice. The church is the light, check and balancing instrument for good governance; member of every church group need to infiltrate the political terrain to bring sanity into the governing system.
In a short time, Nagaland will face a by-election and the State Assembly election. This time, it appears the cry of the Naga people is Clean Election lead the NBCC. Today the people of Nagaland have come to realize that because of dirty and unfair election in the past, the fate of the state and its people is completely submerged in the cesspool of unhealthy and poor governance beset with corruption, nepotism, bribery, backdoor appointments, financial scam and more, which are all sins before God, committed by the state manned by Christians.
Eventually Nagaland has become in biblical term, a mount of dry bones. At this juncture, who will call upon the Lord to endow the dry bones with fresh blood and flesh and bring the dry bones to life? It is my belief that the Church/NBCC has a right to call upon the Lord and plead before God to breathe the breath of life into the dry bones. Dry bones mean all the Nagas from a mere voter to the highest office holder in the state. A voter might have turned himself into a skeleton by selling his birthright of political power for a small sum of money just like Esau selling his birthright for a plate of food. Nagas in high offices of power and glory have their own nemesis of dry bones in the cupboards of their homes for their acts of omission and commission.
God certainly punishes those overseers whom he appoints to deliver equity and justice to the people when they betray Him and his people. When God abandons the overseers, Satan enters their lives and rules over them with all the evil designs to destroy their lives and families. Some are seduced to have more than one wife, mistress and concubines thereby creating the problems of maintaining polygamy, everyday quarrels and wrangles bereft of peace of mind and solace. Some face unexpected deaths in the family; children become alcoholic, victims of drugs, AIDS or depression. In some families, disabled children are born; some meet with unexpected accidents/incidents making their life disabled or paralyzed. It is a statement of fact which I myself know it. With all pomp and show outwardly, these people might be feeling themselves as dry bones in their heart of hearts.
The Church/NBCC is the body/institution of Christ on earth who taught black is black and white is white while preaching the gospel of salvation and righteousness. So, the Church/NBCC should also propagate Christ’s commands boldly. Jesus said, “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And behold. I am with you always to the end of age” Mathew 28:18-20. In Nagaland context, Jesus is telling the Church/NBCC; Christ’s institution, not only to make disciples of all tribes of Nagas, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son and the Holy spirit but to teach the Nagas to observe all that Jesus commanded including to do away with the sins of corruption, nepotism, bribery, backdoor appointments, financial scams etc.
Pastor John Hagee’s declaration to the American people through his Church, T.V. and Media, when the Congress passed the Abortion/family planning bill and the Gay Marriage bill and approved by the President of the USA: ‘God’s law is above the law of the President. I will obey God’s laws. America uphold God’s law’. With the change of the Presidency in the USA, the new President has started taking steps to redress these acts which may adversely affect even the family planning programme in Nagaland; the aid mainly sourced from the WHO where USA is a main donor.
Can any pastor/Church in Nagaland be able to challenge at any time boldly the Chief Minister/his colleagues who destroy the fabric of the development and progress of Naga society to step down for their acts of omission and commission or make a call to the people of Nagaland to pull down a discredited government through democratic public demonstrations and bandhs? At this juncture, the statement of the General Secretary, NBCC is to be highly welcome: “Clean election campaign should not make us a mute angel to accept whatever comes our way, namely, political ideologies with vested interest to entice us to compromise over Christian faith and belief.
This may be construed as a political statement of the NBCC but we must underline that the Church must always stand against any element that seeks to infringe on our faith with religious ideologies in the name of politics or political party. Thumbs up to NBCC.
Now put the challenge into action. God will provide the power of word, knowledge and wisdom to the NBCC to courageously help implement the process of holding a clean election in Nagaland.
Here are some suggestions of rules that the Church/NBCC can play: –
- Ensure every voter that as a Christian, the most important day of your life is when you trusted and accepted Christ as your Savior and the second most important day of your life is the day you go to the polls and cast your precious vote; that’s the exercise of your political right and power which are empowered by Christ to you to select your representative as your man, not as your ruler, in the governance of the state.
- Ensure that the leaders who are elected satisfies 1 Timothy 3:1-3 statement, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a money-lover”.
- Church/NBCC need to develop strategic plan to encourage the youth for clean-election through faith base approach that is called ‘Devine Intimation Strategy’.
- Church’s civic education should facilitate the citizens to a meaningful and effective participation in election issues in the community. Church may highlight the roles and social responsibilities of the citizens to the Government, political and social interest; the mass media, the private sector and the civil society interests.
- Naga apex bodies, organisations, unions and committees, State Core Committee and village councils, which are already fired up by the call of clean election of the NBCC be encouraged to work persistently down to the grass root level of every voter in all the constituencies.
- At present, the population of Nagaland is a little above 2(two) million out of which there are about 12(twelve) lakh voters. But in an election, all the people of Nagaland irrespective of voters or not, get involved in the electioneering. Under these circumstances, the Church/NBCC cannot cover the whole population and convince them effectively the good plans of a clean election in Nagaland. Moreover, the Church/NBCC has its own immense task of running the church, bringing the lost sheep and feeding them spiritually.
However, there may be a way out for a clean-election if the Church/NBCC make its main target on the intending candidates, who are the main actors of the election. The intending candidates, being fewer in number; 188 candidates as in 2013 state election, compared to the total number of voters, the Church/NBCC can easily approach the candidates, interact and discuss the issue of clean election in detail. At the declaration of the state Assembly/By-election election the NBCC summon, not invite, all the candidates and initiate discussion on how a clean election can be held in Nagaland. I believe all the candidates in their hearts would wish to contest the election under the banner of Dean Election. It is to be regretted that it is mainly the canvassers, supporters, pressure groups and election gamblers who pressurize the candidates to indulge in the dirty, unscrupulous money politics. The NBCC can initiate an open and thorough discussion on the merits of a clean election and the evils of a dirty election where all the candidates freely express their views and ideas. Thereafter the discussion, some resolutions can be drawn up to be adhered to by all the candidates.
In the name of God, a pledge to abide by the resolutions on clean election be signed by all the candidates in the presence of the NBCC as witness. To safe guard the violation of the resolutions by any candidate, the candidates may unanimously give sanction to the NBCC to award punishment/admonishment to the violator in the form of, for example, excommunication from the membership of the church for a certain period of years. The Church awards excommunication sentence to the members of the church who get married outside the church for violating the code of marriage of the church even though the Bible does not clearly state that a Christian couple should get married only in the church. Likewise, the Church/NBCC may excommunicate any candidate for a term of 6 years, for violating the resolution of clean election which he/she sign in the name of God and the Church/NBCC as witness. Excommunication from the church is probably the worst fear psychosis for any Christian in Nagaland.