News Articles

12,000 profess faith in Nagaland at strife-laden 125th anniversary

WASHINGTON (BP)–More than 12,000 Nagas responded to an invitation given by Baptist World Alliance President Nilson Fanini to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at three evangelistic meetings held in conjunction with the 125th anniversary celebrations of the Nagaland Baptist Church at Kohima, North East India, Nov. 27-30.
An estimated 740,000 people attending the anniversary celebration’s overall seven meetings, held in a specially constructed pavilion, gave thanks for the gospel and prayed for peace.
To prepare for what they expected God to do, Naga Baptists had hundreds of trained counselors ready to help those who responded.
As BWA president, Fanini, a worldwide evangelist, has focused his message on the need for Baptists to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and double their churches and members by the year 2000.
At a rally attended by 75,000 young people, 30 committed themselves to full-time missionary service. Tony Cupit, BWA evangelism director, preached.
An American Baptist missionary couple, Dr. and Mrs. E.W. Clark, brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to head-hunting Nagas 125 years ago, with the anniversary theme reflecting the Nagas’ testimony, “From Darkness to Light.”
“The little Naga world presented almost one unbroken scene of midnight darkness on all sides,” said S.C. Jamir, chief minister of Nagaland and a Baptist. “A remedy was urgently needed to save them. In the fullness of God’s own time, the Light of heaven appeared on the scene to save the Nagas.”
However, while Nagaland is largely a Christian or some would even say “Baptist” state, there is much nominal Christianity, and civil war between Baptist factions has hurt the Christian witness. Though hostilities between warring Nagas stopped long enough for the celebrations, the need for peace was prominent in the minds of all who attended. While many groups, including the BWA, have worked, pleaded and prayed for peace, hundreds of people continue to be killed because of land and power disputes and in an underground civil war of the Nagas against the Indian government from whom they want independence.
“The recent years have been a time of exceptional pain and sorrow for most Nagas,” Jamir said, “a time when our own guns have turned many into widows, orphans and childless parents.”
Long sessions of the anniversary celebration were given over to talk and prayer for peace.
After preaching on the need for repentance and reconciliation at one service, John Sundquist, head of the American Baptist Board of International Ministries which has continued its strong links to the Nagas, brought Naga leaders together in a circle.
Cupit, who attended the celebrations, said, “The entire circle of more than 120,000 people broke out in audible, simultaneous prayer to God for peace in Nagaland.”

    About the Author

  • Wendy Ryan