Morung Express News
Dimapur | March 26
“Today more than ever, given the increasing poverty, violence and injustices in the world, the church should be more willing to embrace, engage and continue with its task of being an agent for transformation and change,” says Asha Sanchu who serves as the Director, Miqlat Ministry, Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC) Women Department.
In this exclusive interview with The Morung Express for the Beyond Pulpit series, Asha Sanchu shares about her passion to “preach, share, talk and write” about women issue especially those sexually exploited. She asserts that this is not only a women’s issue but human issue and makes a clarion call “to collectively fight this social evil.”
In this series, Asha also talks about the issue of justice, church and social transformation, hope for ministry and for women in Nagaland.
MExN: What is the story behind your commitment to Christian faith?
Asha: My story is as simple as me. Like many Nagas, I was born and raised up in a Christian home with an alcoholic father and a praying mother. I grew up as a Christian but did not really have a personal relationship with God and did not really understand that it is not enough to be just a Christian. I did all that was expected of me as a good Christian. But I owe so much to my Sunday school teachers who taught me well from an early age to love, honour and obey God.
Along the way, I have gone astray time and again, but the seeds that my Sunday school teachers planted in me from a young age always brought me back to God. I have gone through so much in life, both highs and low, but in all these I experienced only the goodness and protecting hand of God.
My personal life experience at different times also contributed to the growth of my Christian faith. God never failed me even when I was in the rock bottom. He even made it possible for me to travel to Africa without a visa. He provided when I had nothing. The list goes on. When I think of all these, it gives me joy and peace to have this hopeful living relationship.
My past is redeemed, my present make sense and my future is secure and this only makes me bold in my commitment to Christian faith each day.
MExN: Can you tell us about your calling into ministry?
Asha: Realizing my call to ministry was a little dramatic. From an early age, the issue of justice was close to my heart. I always stood for others not really understanding why. To my teachers and classmates, my act came across as rebellious.
I was a little different in my thinking, the way I see and do things so even when I thought of ministry I knew I was called for something different and not just follow what was expected. I did not want to go for my theological studies until I was sure of my call.
It was sometime in 2002 I heard the testimony of a lady in a park in the street of Delhi. I walked in inside the park with no clue what was going on. The moment I entered and found my place to stand and watch, this lady stood up and started sharing her testimony. She said she was a former prostitute from a hippie background. It was through her husband that she came to know the Lord. And now they are serving in ministry together reaching out to such group of women. I never got the chance to meet this woman or even ask her name. But when I heard her testimony, I had goose bumps all over and instantly knew in my heart that this is what I want to do. Then and there I decided to pursue my theological studies because my calling became crystal clear.
Many people thought I was out of my mind and that reality will hit me after sometime. But since that day, there was no turning back and no regrets. Saying yes to this call was one of the best decisions of my life. It has never been easy but very humbling, fulfilling and rewarding.
MExN: Who has been the most influential to you and why?
Asha: The woman whose name I don’t even know and whose life testimony shaped my passion and call to ministry has been one of the most influential people in my life. It was her testimony that shaped the conviction of my call. Her story gave me the heart and courage to faithfully follow and live through till this day. Every time I think and talk about call and my passion to such a ministry, this lady is always be part of my story.
Another one is Lt John Sundquist. I met John when I just started my work in Nightlight International, Bangkok as a young girl with no exposure and experience. John trusted me enough, invested his time and prayers in me and paved ways and introduced me to the Baptist World Alliance platform which was the beginning of many other opportunities I was even scared to dream of. I saw in him the heart and need to invest in young leaders like me and many others, and I carry that heart and need very close with me today.
MExN: Are there any woman/women in your life whom you would consider your role model?
Asha: Yes quite a few.
Annie Dieselberg who runs an amazing organization called Nightlight in Bangkok. I was privileged to work under her for some time. Her passion, larger than life vision, her courage, her love and her sharp mind makes her an interesting boss to work and learn from. Her sheer grit and determination pushed me to work the best out of me.
Santi Keyho my teacher from Oriental Theological Seminary. A gentle and kind soul, she became my mentor, friend, my biggest cheer leader and critique. She taught me so much every day of how to speak the truth in love without having to compromise.
Lauran Bethell and also Visasieü Dolie, the current Women Secretary of NBCC. These two people saw something in me when nobody did. They mentored, invested, connected, cheered, encouraged and pushed me in developing my leadership. They became my friend, mentor and guide.
God brought each of these people into my lives at different times and seasons to bring the best out of me and they each have taught me some of life’s best lessons.
My parents who are two of the simplest people from a very humble home living a very simple life. When nobody trusted my call and dream, they were courageous enough to let me follow my call despite all discouragements and challenges. I am able to come this far because they continue to cheer and support me with no selfish expectations for themselves.
MExN: How do you describe your personal theology?
Asha: God be glorified in the knowledge that I know Him personally and live by Micah 6:8 “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”.
MExN: What are the core mission statement and the vision of Miqlat Ministry?
Asha: Mission statement: Reach out, touch lives, embrace, transform and restore lives in all its fullness through quality holistic healing, community reintegration and social entrepreneurship.
Vision: The girls/women Miqlat serves will come to the knowledge of God their maker, enjoy a life of dignity, equipped to nurture their families, sustain employment and contribute meaningfully to communities.
MExN: Please tell us your current roles and responsibilities as Director, Miqlat Ministry, NBCC Women Department
Asha: As the head of the organization it involves a lot of decision (big/small) making every day. It is also my responsibility for the smooth administration, planning, direction of the organization’s operations and programmes, motivate and encourage the team, and a lot of resource mobilizing.
MExN: What is your hope for your ministry and for women in Nagaland?
Asha: For the ministry, I pray and hope that this will be a place where every girls and women who come will experience deliverance, healing, transformation in and out and grow in a personal relationship with their maker. I also hope that the ministry will become self-sustainable through business as mission. I hope that the ministry will not only depend on charity or donations for this does not empower. I also dream that the ministry will become a source of providing employment to empower many women economically.
For women in Nagaland, I have so many hopes but for now to start with I hope we will know our worth and use our voice to support, appreciate and stand up for every women in the best way we can.
MExN: What is your understanding on the local church as an agent of social transformation?
Asha: Local church should play the role of catalyst of change. Since the early church, Christian Church has always been involved in the transformation of society.
Today more than ever, given the increasing poverty, violence and injustices in the world, the church should be more willing to embrace, engage and continue with its task of being an agent for transformation and change.
It has to fulfill the gospel imperative of making the world a better place for all to live with justice, peace and harmony.
MExN: Are social issues and causes something the church should be involved in?
Asha: Yes very much.
MExN: What overall impact does the gospel have on women, and what impact has it had on you?
Asha: Inclusive, liberating and life giving.
MExN: What do you think should be the role of women in the church?
Asha: Role of women in the church serving as leaders is either very easy or a very difficult question. But to me personally, whatever roles it may be, women should take and be willing to serve even though at times some roles (as per the human standard) may be identified more with or for men. The fact that we are born women should never limit us from serving the church in any given role. If a woman is called to be a Pastor, a deacon, board chairperson or in any leadership role, let her do so willingly.
MExN: Are there certain social issues that you are particularly passionate about? How do you address them as a leader?
Asha: I am passionate about women’s issue especially those sexually exploited. I preach, share, talk and write about it at any given opportunity. This is not only women’s issue but human issue and we need to collectively fight this social evil together.
MExN: Is personal relation and spiritual mentoring more effective than formal pulpit ministry?
Asha: Formal pulpit ministry is also very important as the general masses are fed through it. But for me personally, I grew through personal relationships and spiritual mentoring both individually and in small groups. So this is very important to me and I carry and introduce this anywhere I get the opportunity.
MExN: How do you promote spiritual experience in a non-religious context?
Asha: By being true to my faith. I don’t need to be loud or put extra effort to be seen or heard but just being real and me, unashamed and unapologetic of my faith and the one I follow.
MExN: Any message you would like to share with our readers?
Asha: Be real, have courage to speak and stand up for the right thing. Do not be afraid to stand in the crowd alone. Treat everyone with respect and glorify God through the knowledge that you know Him personally. Never walk away from God’s will.
Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish Philosopher said “It is only in love that the unequal becomes equal” so always be generous with love and in loving.