Nagaland – Day 4
6th March: Day 4
I had another sleep deprived night as my body refused to adjust to the Indian clock. These things were so easy only a few years ago. Never mind, four hours is quite enough provided it doesn’t go on for too many nights. Yesterday afternoon we explored some of the town on foot. In India this will always be a precarious venture having to be constantly vigilant in chaotic traffic. The deeply rooted fatalistic attitudes of Indian society help contribute to this: if, when your time is up there is little point in fighting it, why worry too much about safety on the roads? There are many shops, little more than shacks on the roadside, though cleaner and more orderly than those in many other parts of the developing world we have visited.
The vegetables shops are adjacent to each other, as are the fish shops and pork shops, with helpful handwritten signs advertising their respective wares. Pork is eaten a lot, I mentioned earlier the delicious local dried and smoked pork dish. We haven’t found any King Chilli yet but tomorrow morning (Wednesday) promises an early visit to the local market where we may find it. Certain foods often run out as shops are reliant on supplies coming in from Jorhat or Dimapur, each at least five hours drive away. So it is easy to see why the market is a high point in people’s week. It is difficult to understand how Mokokchung town would survive without the governments funding and jobs it creates; nothing much is produced here. One important source of employment is the education sector, for qualifications are essential (as through all India) if one is to escape the poverty trap. I haven’t worked out yet where people get their funds to pay for it.
Our second morning in the college was fruitful. Apparently next week I am to set a 2 hour exam for the class we have. Everything is assessed and carefully recorded. This poses a challenge for the teaching we typically bring, and threatens to hamper the freedom we are so used to operating in and which the Holy Spirit demands of us. Nevertheless, we said we would teach John’s gospel and we can certainly use it as a framework and come up with some suitable questions by the end of next week. How about: ‘Question one. Explain how you experienced revelation through the teaching of John’s gospel and relate it to Jesus’ ministry, especially with reference to his statement that ‘(his) words were spirit and they were life’? Hmm, maybe this isn’t a bad idea after all.
Several of the class responded to the teaching this morning as they, braving peer pressure, came forward to give their lives afresh to God’s purposes, making a decision to follow him with a whole heart, leaving behind their own agendas, preferences and plans. They learned afresh the true meaning of repentance and the basics of what it means to walk in faith. It has often amazed and encouraged me to witness the way the simple gospel message can cut through and impact many men and women who have a form of godliness but no power in their Christian lives. These young men and women are Master of Divinity students who daily wrestle with complex theological ideas yet have so far failed to lay hold of what it really means to follow Christ. Perhaps here is one reason why revival, once enjoyed here, has got lost through adopting western models of training and equipping.
One man, clearly a capable student and potential minister, gave testimony that he had imagined before this morning that when he left college he would build a ministry and be a great preacher and draw people to himself in order to build big church. Now he understands that his job is to follow Jesus and let him do the building, to live his life being a witness to him.
The time in Chapel, when the whole college — including faculty — gather for 50 mins mid-morning, has been given over to us while we are here. This will be an opportunity to reach the whole community and today we grasped it with both hands.