Tuisem A. Shishak
– Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1).
The announcement of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly election (2018) has already opened Pandora’s Box. Already ten political parties are in the fray. Unless God’s people wake up and exercise their Christian responsibility prayerfully and wisely, this year’s election may turn out to be the most divisive and destructive ever. Even now it has the appearance of an uncontrollable “monster.”
For the first time, the Hindutva ideology has decided to challenge the Church of Jesus Christ in Nagaland, in Meghalaya, and surely in Mizoram in the near future. One of its main proponents is RSS and its influence is secretly, and subtly, permeating into the various parts of the North-East for decades.
The RSS was founded in 1925 by K. Baliram Hedgewar from Nagpur, who, among others, allegedly agitated for strict segregation of Hindus and Muslims. Some of its most prominent members were known for their deep admiration of Facism and Nazism, the two totalitarian movements which swept through Europe in the early 20th century.
We are told that it was outlawed by the British and was even occasionally banned by the Indian government after independence. Yes, its ultimate objective is to establish a Hindu Rashtra (nation or kingdom) and the Hindu religion: a Hindu theocratic government. Victory for party affiliated to such ideology in Nagaland and the two other Christian-dominated North-Eastern states will be ominous for their populace.
Hence, Christians everywhere, listen to the Bible: “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
In 1963 the Central Government in New Delhi created “Nagaland State”, and in 1964 a Delhi-imposed full legislative assembly began functioning. In all the subsequent elections the Church (overwhelming Baptist and Roman Catholic voters in Nagaland) selected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to govern Nagaland State. What happened to “Clean Election” all these years? I am persuaded that the Church– Christians in Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram– is really the culprit for all the corruption because we the Church, we corrupt church members, knowingly continue to elect corrupt church members as MLAs in every election. Almost all Nagaland MLAs and Government bureaucrats are likely to be members of a local church.
Today nobody denies that Nagaland is one of the most corrupt states in India. Don’t we realize that the Church (the vast majority who are Baptist Christians) again will decide who will form the next government in Nagaland? What an awesome task of the Church before men and God! It is the same in Meghalaya where the Church (Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics) will decide who forms the next government, and the same in Mizoram where the Church (Presbyterians and Baptists) will decide their next government.
In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle wrote: “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand-fold.” Thomas Aquinas, centuries later, said that little errors in the beginning lead to serious consequences in the end.
How could these overwhelming majority Christian states — sink to the bottom of the moral totem pole? Let us add the five Christian-dominated hill districts of Manipur (Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur, and Chandel) where similar corruption abounds. Please read Patricia Mukhim’s article, “Where is Christ in the Government?” (Morung Express, 3/1/18, p.5). The Church is reaping what she has sown.
Whether “solution before election” or “solution after election” or “never solution”, the struggle for clean elections will continue. Free and fair elections are essential for the formation of any democratic government.
What does “clean election” mean, and how a clean election can be achieved, have been discussed threadbare in the church, in the public square, on school/college campuses, thanks to the Nagaland Baptist Church Council’s (NBCC) leadership with the backing of the Nagaland Joint Christian Forum (NJCF), and several NGOs and civil societies.
This time the Church has invested more time and energy in efforts to ensure a clean election. Many excellent rules and regulations, which are mostly ignored, have been laid down which the political candidates and the electorate are to abide by. But still the essential “one thing” found wanting in the Naga Church today is spiritual and moral power…“having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim.3:5).
Today’s Church has failed to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). The love of money has just about destroyed the testimony of the Church. We compete only in who can build the largest church building (mostly with money stolen by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who then donate it to the church). But we forget the main mission of the church: building up believers in the faith and making Disciples of Christ at home and around the world.
If we want a clean election, the Church must first confess her sin and be clean, spiritually and morally. “If my people… will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron.7:14).
The Church must never be unequally yoked with any secular government. The Church sins when morally corrupt politicians and government officials are permitted to occupy the pulpit. The Church sins when corrupt money and corrupt people help build worship centers and gospel ministries and missions.
The Church is truly a fellowship of Christ’s followers. She is the body of which Christ is the Head. To Him alone the Church owes her allegiance, not to any human agent or organization, including the so-called “high command” in Delhi or any underground group.
Only then can the Church confront the secular, corrupt world (politicians, bureaucrats, national workers, etc.) with the Word: “Thus says the LORD GOD.” Such a Church remains prophetic. Any local church that ceases to be prophetic becomes pathetic, serving the world rather than their Lord.
The most complicated issue being faced by the Nagas of Indo-Myanmar is the more than 70-year old Naga political crisis still remains unresolved. Nagas had hoped a final solution would be forthcoming not long after the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) arranged a ceasefire in 1997, over 20 long years ago.
Yet even after two and a half years since the signing of the “Framework Agreement” on August 3, 2015 between the NSCM-IM and the BJP Government in Delhi, a solution remains as elusive as ever.
For months the discussion among the Nagas throughout the Naga-inhabited areas of Indo-Myanmar as well as among the peoples of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has centered around “Naga Integration.”
We keep hearing conflicting reports about the Framework Agreement (FA) contents. The NSCN-I-M leadership has said again and again that physical or geographical integration of all the Naga areas is an essential part of the FA. On the other hand, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Government interlocutor R.N. Ravi say that physical integration is not part of the FA; they have assured our three neighbors that not even an inch of their land will be given away while finalizing the Naga final accord. Who is lying or who is telling the truth?
The Nagas have said many times that they only want integration of their God-given lands. The last thing the Nagas want is taking away lands which genuinely belong to their neighbors.
We can understand the opposition of the three Chief Ministers of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to the consolidation of all contiguous Naga areas because the size of each neighboring state will be reduced just like Madhya Pradesh when Chhattisgarh was formed; UP when Uttarakhand was formed, and Bihar when Jharkhand was formed, all according to the constitution of India. Why should the Nagas be treated differently? Is it because the Party in power at centre is ruling Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh?
The latest “Election for Solution” slogan is a deceitful ploy. Is the new government really going to solve the more than 70-year-old Naga political nightmare following the 13th Nagaland State Legislative Assembly election?
I have always said that the Nagas should never trust the Indian Government until the Final Political Agreement is signed between the Government and Naga Representatives, witnessed by a third country, preferably the United Kingdom or USA or both.
The Congress government had over 50 years to solve the Naga problem, but they blew it. The Naga integration struggle is due to the unfinished job of the Congress government when they created a Nagaland State consisting of hardly one-fifth of the Naga territory in Indo-Myanmar.
Will history repeat itself or will the current BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi at last administer justice by letting all the Nagas of Indo-Myanmar dwell in peace under one political umbrella?
As of now, Nagas have not made any headway either under the Congress party or under the BJP. Instead, the trust deficit with both the two major political parties is very much alive today except that it is getting worse.
Unfortunately, not just the Naga public and state government (politicians and bureaucrats) but even NSCN-IM leadership and all our other national movement leaders have been fooled several times all these years, and will yet be fooled in the future because they have also made themselves untrustworthy by serving Money rather than the God of the Bible.
It is tragic, because Naga national workers have genuinely suffered much for the cause of the Naga Nation, but as Christians, they have sinned against God by indulging in things immoral, unjust, and have become corrupt like the over-ground politicians and bureaucrats. These facts must be acknowledged and confessed before the God of Creation so His blessings may start flowing again.
We must not wonder why it has taken so long to settle the Naga political issue. Could the number one cause be SIN? Militarily, the Nagas are like grasshoppers between two giant elephants: Myanmar and India.
Our only hope is Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe and the Savior of mankind. Our only weapon is moral and spiritual and the Word of God. “. . . Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). Right now worldliness has become our god. “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13). “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”(Ps.51:17). I would urge our Naga national workers that from now on make sure Jesus Christ is seated at every peace conference. After all, He is the Prince of Peace. Lasting Peace will come to Naga-Land when Jesus leads the Naga Peace Team.
With all the imperfections and failures of the Church, it must be made crystal clear that the Church still is our only hope for the Nagas, and will remain indispensable for the very survival of the Naga Nation now and until the day Jesus Christ returns to earth.
Hence I fully endorse the resolutions adopted by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) during its 21st triennial convention at Impur. NBCC has called on “believers to choose between the ‘trishul’ and the cross amid growing concerns of voters getting seduced by money and development offered by those whose hands seek to ‘pierce’ the heart of Jesus Christ.” (“NBCC sounds battle cry against Hindutva forces,” Nagaland Post, 10/2/18, p.1).
Dear beloved Nagas: Our problem is not with the Hindus, only with Hindutva ideology. Like in the days of the prophet Elijah, surely God must have reserved at least seven thousand believers in Naga-Land “whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (I Kings 19:18). I call upon you to rise and “build the wall and stand before me (God) in the gap on behalf of the land so I (God) would not have to destroy it (Naga-Land)”.
Watch and Pray! But be sure to vote, every Christian in Nagaland State. Let us save NAGA-LAND for CHRIST. So God, help us!