Someone has said, “God is a missionary God. In Jesus Christ He came into the world to save it. Through Christ’s ministry He identified Himself in compassion with men in their daily needs. In Christ, on the Cross, He gave Himself utterly for all men, meeting and conquering the forces that opposed His reign. By Christ’s Resurrection, He revealed His power to reestablish I-lis Lordship over the world. In Christ’s promise to return, He declared His present control over history and His will openly to establish His reign over all creation. For the meantime, He created a people to carry on His missionary task. Of this people Christ is the Head, and of their work and witness the Holy Spirit is the reality” (Study for Renewal, ed. A.C. Dharmaraj, July 1969, p.7). This is quite relevant to Nagaland churches. This missionary God sent the American Baptist missionaries to the Nagas with the message of the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Then the Nagas have been led out from darkness and ignorance into the marvelous light of God’s salvation in Christ. Hence, the Church in Nagaland is a Mission Church because it was founded by the Mission. And Jesus Christ was presented to them by the Mission as Lord and Saviour : in a sense he has been incarnated again in and through the work of the Mission and the Nagas are brought into the fellowship of the household of God and they are now the members of the New Humanity in Christ Jesus, the head of the Church (Ephesians 2:11-22). God has created the Naga people in Christ Jesus as a New People of God, so they are created to carry on his missionary task to the whole world.
Such an understanding made the Naga Christians conscious of their missionary challenge of reaching out to others in that they top would become, in turn, missionaries as those people who taught them first the saving knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. After the foreign missionaries had completely withdrawn from Nagaland, the last missionary family left Nagaland by 1955, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council followed up the unfinished task of evangelization. First, they decided to establish a Home Mission Board, in 1960, for the purpose of missionary project under the Council, and Longri Ao was, in fact, the initiator. The objective of fund raising’ was later specifically defined as indicated in this action:
That our two Secretaries with the help of the treasurers be asked to launch out a fund raising campaign in the major towns of Nagaland for the evangelization of Naga tribes which the NBCC has undertaken as its major task.
This challenge for mission was promoted by the unfinished task of evangelization in the land, especially in the border areas; however, this was temporarily sidetracked by another more important work, the work of the Peace Mission for the restoration of peace in Nagaland. The restoration of peace in Nagaland was indeed a mission of reconciliation which God has entrusted the Church to do.
The Thirty-first Annual Session of the Council at Dimapur, October 4-6, 1967 was significant in that it attempted some bold steps to put the missionary project into action. (1) An amount to the tune of Rs.25,000.00 was allocated for Home Mission budget in 1968. (2) The Home Mission project was recommended to be carried on even down to the grassroot level of the local churches. (3) Each Association was requested to make plans for launching a “house to house evangelistic campaign” in all its towns in the respective areas. And (4) The NBCC Executive Secretary was entrusted with to make arrangements with the Government to send NBCC missionaries to Tirap Frontier Division (NEFA). Although some of these could not be materialised on account of the inevitable circumstances, a beginning was certainly made and it was now moving forward.
At the Thirty-second Annual Session Tseminyu, January 28-30, 1969, two more important steps were taken to strengthen the Home Mission Front:
(1) the idea of employing a full-time secretary for Home Mission Division and (2) to have a strong Mission Committee in cooperation with the respective Associations and the leaders of the local churches in each of the following major town Kohima, Mokokchung, Tuensang, Wokha, Zunheboto Dimapur and Impur.
In pursuance of the Tseminyu action Ellis Murry was appointed as the first full-time Secretary NBCC Home Mission at the Thirty-third Annual Session at Molvom in 1969. Ellis Murry, a theological train person who with all his enthusiasm and musical talent joined the Council with effect from January 1970. With his appointment the relationship in administration was also defined, making the Home Mission Secretary responsible to the Executive Secretary in all matters connected with the interest of the Home Mission activities.
A progress was also made by this time toward wider vision in mission. The target of the Home Mission fund was raised to Rs.50,000.00 in 1970 of which 20 percent was to set aside for Foreign Mission work and the rest earmarked for Home Mission project .
Therefore, now, with a view to covering both the Home Mission and Foreign Mission works, the name Nagaland Baptist Home Mission was changed to Nagaland Missionary Movement at the Thirty-fourth Annual Session at Kohima, January 31-February 3, 1971. The branch missionary movement for Youth and Women societies was also suggested and that every local church all over Nagaland was urged to start this project. Along with this, the first week of May (1-7), every year, was set aside for special prayer for NMM and to raise fund for its projects under the leadership of the Youth Branch and the Women Branch of the Movement. An Evangelistic Committee, ad-hoc, to plan evangelistic crusades under Rikum Ao was also formed. Rikum was commissioned by the Ao Mungdang as a MIssionary Evangelist for Nagaland, and this designation and his ministry were welcomed and approved by the Council. His evangelistic work came under the purview of the Nagaland Missionary Movement as this was part of Mission and Evangelism programme of the Ao Mungdang.
For the awakening and strengthening of the churches in Nagaland, Prayer Mobilization was effectively started at the direction of the Home Mission Board. This prayer programme is continuing under the leadership of T. Alem-Meren from 1970. God is working in and through this as this being the life-nerve of the Church and its mission.
It was at the Thirty-fifth Annual Session of the Council at Dimapur, October 15-17, 1971 the Nagaland Missionary Movement was constituted as a child of the NBCC in the constitutional sense of the term. Some concrete decisions were taken at this session to function it as a missionary organization. First, Ellis Murry and Longri Ao were entrusted to make a draft of the Constitutions of NBCC and NMM. Later the draft was presented and was adopted in 1972 (ANBC-72/241). Secondly, the NMM Board was entrusted to prepare its budget for 1972, setting a target for the year, and circulate it widely for fund drive in the Associations and local churches. Now a certain independence was given to the Board for the management of NMM, as this action shows. Thirdly, two projects were taken up : the Evangelistic Crusades in Assam and NEFA and the Dimapur Evangelistic programme. Finally and more importantly, the Board was entrusted to recruit a trained person with adequate academic degree to be commissioned as a missionary from 1972.
In 1975, between March 1 and 9, a Naga Congress on World Evangelization was conducted at Dimapur. The Congress was attended by all church leaders from Nagaland. In the Congress, a Covenant was made between God and Nagaland church leaders to promote missionary activities in and outside Nagaland and to promote revival movement in the churches. The text of the Covenant is quoted here below:
Let the earth hear His voice
WE, the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ in Nagaland determined to carry out the Great Commission of the Lord to proclaim it to all people making them I-lis disciples. With this burden upon our hearts we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with other.
1. Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name, and we long for the day when every knee shall bow to Him and every tongue shall confess Him Lord.
2. The Holy Bible The Word of God
WE affirm that the Bible has been given to all mankind by divine revelation. Holy men of God spoke and wrote as they were inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit. The whole Bible in its entirety is therefore the Word of God, without error and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. The Bible therefore speaks with God’s authority. His authority is eternal.
3. The Church and Her Mission
WE affirm that the Church is the body of Christ. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost marks the birth and beginning of Church. Her primary mission is to evangelize the whole world through the proclamation of the love of God in Christ for all mankind: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations.” The key position in the evangelization of the world is therefore held by the Church.
4. Revival and the Power of the Holy Spirit for World Evangelization
WE solemnly dedicate ourselves to launch the following spiritual measures among all Naga- land tribes, beginning from Association Centres down to every local church and every home, for the mighty outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit upon all believers:
1. To continue organizing Prayer Cells and Bible Study Groups involving every home and every Christian;
2. To continue holding intensive evangelistic crusades in every village and town for revival.
Unless we ourselves are first revived by the power of the Holy Spirit our talk of world evangelization in our day through us will be self— defeating. We, therefore, resolve to set all Nagaland churches on revival fire beginning in us. God help us!
5. All Nagaland Churches working together for World Evangelization
WE rejoice that a new era of indigenous Missionary Movement has at last dawned in Nagaland. God has done this for His own glory. We affirm that the cause of the evangelization of the world is the greatest cause in which all churches through the stream of the gospel message is following out into the rest of the world. We, therefore, solemnly re-affirm to make May 1- 7, every year, the traditional week of special prayer and offering in all Nagaland churches a great opportunity for our utmost giving towards the work of the Nagaland Missionary Movement for world evangelization.
6. Training of New Leadership
The Lord needs men and women of great faith and dedication with adequate training and preparation to command the great situation today. We, therefore, affirm that we would invest our resources in training dedicated young people in theological colleges for future full-time ministry.
7. The Return of Jesus Christ
WE believe in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth in power and glory to consummate his salvation and judgement. We also believe we are in the last days of His return and this should be a spur to our evangelism as the gospel must be preached to all nations before the fateful day. The interim period between Christ’s ascension and return is to be filled with the mission of the redeemed people of God, which requires us to be faithful to Him and His mission till the end. With this glorious hope before us, we rededicate ourselves to the service of our Lord and of men.
THEREFORE, in the light of this our faith and decision, we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each other to PRAY, to PLAN and to WORK together for the evangelization of the whole world beginning from Nagaland. We would call upon others to join us in this venture of faith. May God help us by His grace and for His glory to be faithful to this our covenant. Amen.
As a result of the Covenant, the church leaders did organize prayer meetings, revival programmes and Bible studies, and the people of Nagaland began to xperience a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1976. In this, the Mission department of the Council (i.e. NMM) played a great role in promotion of revival in Nagaland through preaching, chain-of-prayer, crusades and Bible studies.
In 1981 an All Nagaland Revival Convention was held at Kohima on April 2-5 and it was attended by church leaders and many people from all over Nagaland. The uniqueness of the Convention was that a Covenant was drawn up, and the text is quoted here below:
OUR COVENANT WITH JESUS CHRIST
“Go ye into All the World and Preach the Gospel” (Mark 16 : 15)
WHEREAS God has called us out of darkness unto His Saving Grace and blessed us with all blessings, given us a burden and vision for world evangelization; we, the participants of the All Nagaland Revival Convention, resolved to faithfully carry out the following covenants this day, the fifth April 1981:
1. That we fully give ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit, praying, serving and waiting for the second return of Christ;
2. That we promote the Holy Spirit Revival and His activity through family altar, Bible study and church-prayer-mobilization, and
3. That, in obedience to the Lord’s Commission, we dedicate our lives, talents, time and resources for the promotion of soul-winning ministry both inside and outside of our land.
NBCC/NMM Officers Convention Office-bearers
Sd/ Rev. Longri Ao Sd/-Phuveyi Dozo
Nagaland Missionary Movement All Nagaland Revival Convention
Sd/-Phuveyi Dozo Sd/-Zawhevolie Mhasi
General Secretary Vice President
Nagaland Baptist Church Council All Nagaland Revival Convention
Sd/-Rev. Ellis Murry Sd/-Candid Sareo
Secretary Vice President
Nagaland Missionary Movement All Nagaland Revival Convention
Sd/-Rev. T. Alem-Meren Ao
Director, Mission & Evangelism
Nagaland Missionary Movement
Following the All Nagaland Revival Convention, implementation and follow-up works were conducted throughout Nagaland : All Nagaland Baptist Youth Leaders’ Meet at Kohma on July 3-5, 1981, Nagaland Baptist Women’s Union, January 25-27, 1982 at Kohima, Yimchunger Revival, April 9-12, 1981, Khiamniungan Revival Convention, April 13-15, 1981, Chang Revival, April 17-21, 1981, United Sangtam Crusade, September 10-13, 1981, Konyak Crusade, September 18-21, 1981, Pochury Revival, October 1-4, 1981, Western Sema Revival Hour, December 3-6, 1981, Chakhesang Crusade, December 13, 1981, Ao Crusade, January 29-31, 1982, Zeliangrong Association Annual, July 28, 1982, Kuki Association Annual, September 21, 1982, Sema Leaders’ Meet, February 9, 1983, Phom Bible Class, May 19-22, 1983, and Angami Baptist Annual Council, May 12, 1983. As a result, revival movement in Nagaland became more mature and biblical, and a great interest of missionary enterprise was created in the churches and Associations. Now the churches have become missionary or sending churches along with this programme of motivation.
In 1977 the office of the Nagaland Missionary Movement was located at an ideal place in Dimapur which was generously donated by D. Haralu and family. Their gift consisted of the site with two buildings; these are now used for NMM Administrative Office, residence and for the Gospel ministry in Nagaland and beyond. With this ideal relocation of the Centre, the NMM is now more accessible to all in a growing township’ like Dimapur.
With an action of the Council in 1978 and followed by subsequent actions the Nagaland Baptist Church Council and Nagaland Missionary Movement were restructured for effective coordination of the work. Now, a scope for expansion of the ministry of NMM was facilitated and more workers were appointed in the subsequent years. Longri Ao acted as Director of Mission and Evangelism in the initial period; he lived, worked and died as “Missionary par excellence” all along. He was the Executive Secretary of the Council, and he held the office of Mission and Evangelism on an honorary basis. In fact, he accepted the executive position in 1967 with a condition that he should be allowed to carry on his missionary ideals; and he could do it. He kept the mission alive, active and going forward, leaving an example of a true Missionary for many younger generations to follow. And, now, the Nagaland Missionary Movement goes on active and strong because of what he had done for it.
With this new development of the NMM structure and working and the missionary vision that Longri Ao aspired to which inspired one and all, consequently Phuveyi Dozo was appointed as the full time Director of Mission and Evangelism with effect from January 1979 and he served in this capacity until the end of the year when he succeeded Longri Ao as General Secretary of the Council in 1980. Then, in 1980, T. Alem Meren was appointed to be the Director of Mission and Evangelism with specific responsibilities: Prayer Mobilization, (2) Mission Strategy, training and seminars, and (3) Crusade planning and preparation for both in and outside Nagaland. He came to this position with a rich and long ministry under the Ao Mungdang at Impur as teacher, preacher, pastor and Director of Mission and Evangelism. He is indeed the right person for the right job. He received his theological training at the Eastern Theological College, J orhat, Assam and Union Biblical Seminary, Yavatmal, Maharashtra. And, during the same time. Longri Ao, after he turned over the leadership of the Council to Phuveyi Dozo, joined the NMM staff as a missionary-at-large until his death in 1981. Later, in 1980, Taku Longkumer of Changtongya Baptist Church joined the staff as Office Administrator. He had his, theological training at Jorhat. Then in 1984, Thanglo Kath, a Rengma, replaced him when he had been away on training with ‘Youth with a Mission’ in Hawaii. Thanglo Kath had his B.D. from Serampore and his M.A. in Missiology from Fuller, Pasadena, USA. Taku Longkumer joined again in 1986 as a Mission Promoter. He came with an American wife, Katie; and she is an added blessing to the ministry of NMM. She edits the “Mission News,” a bi-monthly publication of the NBCC.
The Missionary Movement keeps the churches alive and move in missionary vision. Its home front and outreach activities can be summarised under the following heads:
The programmes inside Nagaland include revival crusades, Bible study meetings, coordination and strategy training in mission centres, organising seminars, mission and missionary conferences, coordinating short term missionary courses, recruiting missionaries and arranging supporting bodies, publication of ‘Mission News’ as the official paper of the NBCC, co-operating with the Prison Ministry in Nagaland and mobilizing prayers. In recent years, it has given scholarships to train theological students, and so far 78 students have benefited from this programme and they are now serving in different forms of Christian ministry.
The main features of outreach programmes include surveying mission fields outside Nagaland, conducting such programmes in other parts of India including Andaman, Nepal, Bhutan, and also in Indo- Burma areas among the Nagas. This is a ministry of ‘ reaching out the hidden people with the Gospel of Christ.
For effective network of mission and evange- lism, the NMM works together with the Indian Missions Association (IMA), Indian Evangelical Mission (IEM) and the Church Growth Association of India (CGAI). This arrangement and coordination work well in all its missionary and evangelistic programmes, especially in other places. It hopes to have more effective relationships with other missionary agencies too.
The Nagaland Missionary Movement is alive, active and is always on the move and it calls for more missionaries and volunteers to fulfil its goal of world evangelization. Back in 1977 a goal was set, an “Enlisting of 10,000 Volunteers,” thus:
VOTED, that the plan of enlisting 10,000 volunteers for the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel,” presented by the Board of the Nagaland Missionary Movement, be sponsoretl by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council, and that we, through all our affiliated bodies: all Baptist Associations, Nagaland Baptist Women’s Union and Nagaland Christian Youth Movement urge all churches to involve themselves seriously in enlisting the volunteers within six months from this day, the 15th of October 1977, when this Campaign was officially inaugurated (ANBC- 77 /339).
Many have responded to the call, but this goal must be fulfilled. This is an objective of the Movement. To enhance this programme and also to get the young people involved in the missionary work of the Church, it has declared 1988 is the “Youth Year” in Nagaland (NMM Board, August 19, 1987).
Prerequisites for Recruitment of Missionaries
Nagaland Missionary Movement is a venture of faith and its missionaries are recruited who fully agree to and sign the statements of its missionary policy given below: .
1. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the Lord of harvest and the Executive of Missionary enterprise. We look to Him alone in exploring fields, recruiting missionaries and for sponsoring churches.
2. We believe that God is the source of our total supply for all our needs. We look to Him alone for supports.
3. We believe that the Holy Bible is the Infallible Word of God for faith and practice, and particularly for missionary work. We look to it alone for methods, strategies and messages.
4. We believe that mobilization of the natives is the key to reaching the unreached, and self-support is the key for church growth.
5. We believe that everything vital in missionary enterprise hinges upon PRA YER AND ASKING. Anyone who is not willing to fast at least once a week cannot be recruited as a missionary.
6. We believe that the BIBLE WAY OF EV ANGELISM as performed by Jesus Christ and extended by the apostolic Christians as recorded in the Gospels and acts is the best and valid method of evangelisation today.
7. We believe in SELF-DENIAL AND SELF -CRUCI- FIXION as lived and taught by Jesus Christ and his followers, to make Christ known to all people in and through