"Out of India" Part 2
13 December 2010
Read this mini-'epistle' written last week by Rigby & Sue on their time in India
"Out of India" Part 2
I write to you with a tender and thankful heart from Dimapur, Nagaland in the North East of India. It's a state bordering Myanmar (Burma). Tony and I arrived here from Delhi last Tuesday 6/12 having left Linda and Sue to connect with the wonderful people of Capitol City Church, whilst we gave ourselves to an amazing door of apostolic opportunity that had clearly been opened by God. In a nutshell, earlier this year the predominant denomination in Nagaland, the Baptists, invited Tony to conduct a number of conferences across the state on the subject of "The Kingdom in the Marketplace". During 2010 Tony had been to around 7 of the 12 regions. We were now invited to go and speak into 3 of the remaining 5 regions. All 12 regions representing around 12 distinct Naga tribes, represent around 1.5million Nagas with another 1.5m Nagas living in neighbouring States and Myanmar. What has transpired from last Wednesday till today (Sunday 5/12) is best described as the most exciting ministry trip I have ever been on in my life. Bear in mind that Nagaland was once 100% Christian, but is now very nominal and formal. They also speak English quite well. I recently read a great quote from Gail Sheey that aptly summarizes what I was about to experience!
"Growth demands temporary surrender of security."
Here are the headlines:
1/12: Up early to conduct devotions with 24 staff members of our hosts. Tony and I careful presented the gospel to what were Hindus, Nagas, Muslims and animists. The majority responded to the gospel and were open to personal prayer. Closed with praying for our hosts Hukato Naga (very influential businessman in the nation) and his amazing wife, Dippika. They are the main sponsors of the initiative to bring the power of the gospel to the marketplace. We then began our 8 hour drive (with 2 vehicles and a team of 6) through very hilly terrain and through many villages. Arrived among the Kyak people and experienced very warm hearted yet very basic hospitality. I once more learned to eat with my hands whatever was put in front of me! I quickly learned to dig deep and find the appropriate grace for flavours and customs that had little correlation to anything Capetonian! I had the distinct feeling that God was chuckling as He watched me thawing to the real implications of cross cultural ministry. I felt like a fish out of water, but only for a while until the love of God and His people became more and more evident. Slept soundly, safely and sweetly.
2/12: After breakfast, Tony and I addressed a cross section of village pastors, business leaders, welfare officers, the local municipal leaders and many government workers, around 50 in all. The concept of integrating faith and work and seeking the welfare of our village and town, though brand new, was very well received. We were honoured in a ceremony where we were each given a Naga carry bag and waistcoat. I was given a very fancy Naga tie that I think Nick Mills is going to kill for! This was their way of honouring the senior guy on the team. Our lingering impression was that this society is ripe for both revival and reformation. As we left for the next leg, we were swamped with invitations to return with a sincere commitment to bring 100s of their leaders to a sequel. We then left after a pork and rice lunch in our Bolero vehicles on the most harrowing road trip I've ever been on! Harrowing, because most of the time we were trying to find the road, through jungles, mountain ledges and semi-swamp terrain. Tony and I and our team spent most of our time shaking our heads, wondering what on earth we thought we were doing. I had a distinct sense, that this what Paul meant when he spoke of "dangers in the country and dangers in the city!" It took us about 5 hours to cover the 100 km in the dark, to Longleng, the stronghold of the Pau tribe. It was a long day, but filled with unforgettable memories. Again, deep sleep could not have come sooner!
3/12: Nukglu, the key local guy (who spoke wonderful English and was generally very sharp) we connected with among the Pau, went out of his way to answer our questions, introduce us to the local culture and generally make us feel at home. Tony and I spoke at the conference to around 40 leaders and experienced an identical response to the message. They begged us to return. A key local politician was present who spent much of the morning nodding his approval at the ideas we were sharing. However, there were times of interacting with the Paul leaders that were both extremely illuminating and humbling. This is the tribe that walk 3 days into remote parts of Myanmar, through the favour of a Burmese general (under the guise of volley ball coaches!) to preach the gospel. They have planted around 9 churches with totally unreached peoples! We saw the photos of some of the gatherings and of a meal they had with the general himself where they were able to openly pray. And Nukglu wants us to come back and preach to 20,000 people at their annual outreach event pitched at the local population! It's very difficult to see myself not returning, even though my longings for home comforts had reached an all-time high! After again receiving Naga gifts, we then drove 6 hours on bad, but not treacherous roads back to Dimepur.
4/12: Drove mid-morning for about 2 hours to the Zillian tribe in Peren. Dippika and some of her family joined us for this leg, but fortunately it was just a day trip. The word seemed to have spread and this time we were greeted by around 100 of the region's key business, political and government leaders. By now we were more adapted to what was expected and gave it our best shot. More genuine response to the message and more invites to return. The Zillions also presented us with Naga scarfs and amazing warm-hearted hospitality. You gotta love these guys! Drove home to prep for sharing a New Life Bible School this morning.
5/12: Brought a message to 250 students and some of the faculty from Acts 16 challenging them to align their lives freshly to the gospel and to see the Naga nation as a field of dreams for the gospel! Had to navigate through some of their church traditions but fearlessly proclaimed God’s word.
Fly back to Delhi tomorrow with much to celebrate and reflect on. We fly out to Doha in Qatar on Wed for 3 days of ministry and return to CT on Saturday. Can't wait to experience some down time and catch up with our own tribe.
Heaps of love,
Rigby and Sue