The Naga who taught Billy Graham Servant-hood

Lately, I was musing on the thought of Servant-hood. The idea to be an ideal in this virtue itched in me and the impulse pulsed all over my heart. Latterly, the idea got nailed with an incident while travelling in the suburbs of the city, Bangalore. I was on a bus at the bus stand intending to go back to the seminary after the fatiguing weekend ministry. I saw an old lady, she looked familiar intriguing me to mull over where I saw her or met her. She was trying to haul a bucket on the bus but she couldn’t for apparently no matter what was inside the bucket it was humbling heavy for her. She squinted and scratched around with the desperate anticipating look on her pale face, hoping some sturdy lad will come to her rescue. She waited in vain, she tried lifting the bucket again against the clock for the bus could leave anytime soon but her effort went futile.

If guilt could kill and the story ends here, I’d be dead. As the reel of the old lady runs real time, I was watching her like a hawk as she struggles up the creek. But it wasn’t a sight for my sore eyes, as my conscience was pricking me beyond my call of duty (I thought). My conscience screeched as loud as a megaphone, “help, help, help her!” I tried rationalizing; this is just a ship that passes in the night, others will help her, that bucket is not that heavy, blah blah…

My rationale was embarrassed when swiftly and softly the Holy Spirit rang the bell of servant-hood. These many days He was trying to teach me to serve and this beyond doubt was my acid test. I never resisted the Holy Spirit, I said I will serve but not here, not now, and not this one. Then I remembered an adage my professor told us at class, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”  Alright, that’s it, I had enough. I sprang up acting high and mighty, went down, pulled the bucket (awfully heavy, no wonder she couldn’t), placed it near my seat, she came and sat next to me as merry as a cricket. She was grateful but to point the fact, I was thankful. Service was no longer weighing on my mind, as free as the air and as clear as crystal, I thought, “this is it, there is no secret to servant hood you just serve and there is no excuse whatsoever for failing to serve.”

Few days after that grateful incident, my friend Imtipokyim told me a story that intrigued me. It was about a Naga whom Billy Graham mentions in his autobiography. I thought why Graham would care to mention a Naga personally. I went to the library, checked out Graham’s autobiography, “Just as I am” and saw for myself, never to regret what I read. Allow me to quote the whole pericope for you to see for yourself in Graham’s own words;  

“…. A few hours later, when we arrived at the soccer field at which we were scheduled to hold meetings, there were 90,000 people already inside, with thousands more outside. They arranged by tribe, and each tribe had its own interpreter with a public address system pointed to their area. As I spoke, I paused after each sentence. There followed a cacophony of sound as all seventeen bullhorns blared at once, each in a different dialect…
… at the dinner, the schedule for the next day was discussed. “We have early-morning Bible studies,” he said. “Of course, we would like you to preside, but because you have several other things during the day, if you want to send one of your associates, we’ll accept that.”
May be Charlie or Cliff could take that meeting,” I replied.  “By the way, how many people do you expect?”
“About 100,000,” he said without hesitation.
“Well, I believe I’ll take that meeting after all,” I managed to say.
When Charlie, Cliff, and I were shown to our quarters in the government house, we were introduced to Nihuli (actually Neihulie); he was the person who would handle our baggage, make us tea, and do whatever else needed doing. He took our shoes to wipe the mud off them.
“We can do that,” I told him.
“No, Please let me,” he said.
As he was brushing the shoes, I asked him about the early morning service. I especially wanted to know, I said, who would be teaching the Bible before I arrived. He didn’t reply. When I pressed him further, he admitted that it was he who would be teaching the Bible to that huge crowd (100,000). The man cleaning my shoe had just taught me a lesson on the servant attitude and the spirit of ministering so often adopted by Christ Himself. I have never forgotten it.” (Billy Graham, Just As I Am (Carmel: Guideposts, 1997), pp. 278-279.)

For those of you who don’t know Neihulie. He was a pioneer and the first president of Nagaland Christian Revival Church (NCRC) at its formation. He was also the founder of the first Bible College in Nagaland, Kohima Bible College. He has a Bachelor of Theology (B. Th) from Doon Bible College, Dehradun in the year 1962. Achieved post graduation from South Western Assemblies of God University, Texas: USA in 1969. He was honoured and ordained as Reverend by the same University.

The incident and the tale of Neihulie served me enough to know the meaning of servant-hood. Then it made perfect sense to me what Christ said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). I knew this verse by memory but it came alive as fresh as a daisy after I learned my lesson.

We are all called to serve and not to be served. There is no secret to servant-hood, you just have to serve wherever, whenever and whoever you can. Serve and just serve.