There used to be freedom in the village; no one need to tell you to go home even though you were just a boy and you're found to be loitering around; darkness would guide you home at the end of the day. I was born in such a village and spent early part of my childhood in a village. Sunday meant holiday and holiday meant venture into fields and forests with friends. I never went to Sunday school in my village.
When our family moved to town, I continued to enjoy my freedom. Unlike my friends whose parents were strict, I could even stay overnight at a friend’s place without informing my family. I lived in an environment that was hostile for bringing up children. Many of my colony friends dropped out of school and some died of drugs. None became an officer or a working professional today except a couple of us, by God’s grace, who were involved with NGOs, including Christian ministries.
I disliked the idea of being controlled by force or rules. At school and also at college I had broken rules and occasionally challenged some. Once I persuaded the whole class, about 100, to run away from school in order to watch an inter-school volleyball match. At college, I played a major part in a student protest, delivering speeches from college to college calling everyone to fight against some decisions of the university. Once, this resulted in a state-wide bandh all over Nagaland. The government had to intervene and the university eventually conceded our demands.
This rebellious tendency followed me to the university as well, the university from where I did my postgraduate and doctoral studies. Perhaps, the only change was that in the university I became more of a pen activist. I was more into writing representations and provocative articles on social and political issues. My late PhD supervisor, an atheist and post-modernist, was one of a kind. He believed that there can be no standard methodology to do any research. Accordingly, he gave me maximum freedom to write my thesis without giving due attention to issues of methodology and structure. I enjoyed and abused this freedom to my disadvantage in a certain sense. I still remember the surprise I gave to my friends when they saw me resting my legs on my supervisor’s table at his office room and conversing with him.
But amidst such a carefree lifestyle, my mother’s love, prayer and testimony kept me from falling beyond the point of no return. On reflection, I can clearly see that God’s love and grace snatched me out of the fire in ways more than I can either comprehend or narrate here. In the meantime, I developed a serious concern about the evil practices that have crept into almost every aspect of our social and political life. A timely meeting with Peter Jamir, an alumnus of BGST, guided me to BGST.
Life at BGST was such a stark contrast – it’s the only institution, so to say, where I didn’t register any protest! Of course, the above depiction of my life’s journey is highly selective and perhaps exaggerated though not untrue. Deliberately I didn’t mention my involvements with Christian activities and organizations. In any case, my knowledge of the Christian faith was very limited then. I barely read half a dozen books of Christian literature before coming to BGST.
From BGST I learned and relearned so many things of academic as well as spiritual importance. To cite a simple instance, I learned the importance of working out ideas within some methodological and structural framework. Among several others, two very important things deserve special mention: (1) I learnt to depend on God all the more. He’s become so real as I underwent some trying times during my stay in Singapore and (2) knowledge of some core biblical and theological values and beliefs gave me enough ideas and inspiration to address social and political issues from a Christian perspective. Responding to such issues with the Christian conviction of truth and love is, as I see it now, a prophetic ministry to the people of our own time. And I believe this to be a part of my calling.
Thank God for the ministry of BGST!