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Op-Ed

6th September 2014 the 50th year of peace day (ceasefire)

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By EMN Updated: Sep 04, 2014 10:27 pm
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A reminiscence (part 3)

The NBCC Peace Initiatives
Nagas lived in constant conflict with one another before the advent of the Christianity. But the Christian faith has enlightened, liberated and united Nagas and thus they began to experience the fullness of life with love, joy and peace.
In the meantime violent conflict had been emerged out of the unsolved Indo-Naga political crisis from 1947 and has intensified gradually. The Church could not remain silent in the midst of massive killing, torture and burning of villages and destruction of economic sustainable support system. Therefore since 1964 Nagaland Baptist Church Council has been heavily engaged in peace work. In recent years political conflict in Nagaland had been aggravated owing to the confrontations between Indian Security Forces and Naga militants. However through God’s grace Ceasefire between Government of India (GoI) and NSCN (IM) in 1997 and also between GoI and NSCN (K) in 2001 were signed; but we are still far from real peace. (See Part 2 No. 9 in Volume II of the book “Walking the Path of Despair and Hope: Understanding and Justifying the Ways of God”, by NBCC for the full text.)
The NBCC has all along expressed our biblical and theological position on effective and caring governance, justice, respect for human lives and dignity, love, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness which go beyond politics. The Church is not an architect or designer for political solutions. The Church has no political agenda. The Church’s concern is the rightful place and rule of God in the lives of all of us including our leaders. We cherish and are committed to the nurturing of spiritual health, goodwill and solidarity of all the Naga people as one family. This is the position of the Church for a solution responding to the historic opportunity before the Naga which must not be wasted. The challenge faced by all factions is the same. We pray for our leaders to guide them by divine wisdom. May God help us (See Part 2 No. 9 in Volume II of the book “Walking the Path of Despair and Hope: Understanding and Justifying the Ways of God”, by NBCC for the full text.)

Summarizing the Peace Mission
Kenneth Kerhüo reflecting on the situation and circumstances that prompted the Church to initiate the Peace talks and form the Peace Mission said:
Ever since the outbreak of political violence in Nagaland, the NBCC leaders under force of circumstances had made relentless efforts to bring peace and normalcy in the State making appeals from time to time to the contending parties to resolve their differences through the conference table without resorting to violence. It is better understood than described that in a conflict like this it is the non-combatants who suffer most, making the innocent people to become victims of the situation. I am sure you can recall the kind of experience our people had passed through during those days of Army operations. Our people have gone through fire and water and have suffered innumerable loses, both in terms of properties and human lives. There was no security of life, whether young or old, man or woman, as every Naga was treated as an enemy by the Indian Army at one time. Inspite of all this, there was none who dared speak for peace and justice. Seeing all these happenings, the Church could not continue to remain a silent spectator. Prayer requests for peace had to be sent out to the churches throughout Nagaland. This was a challenging moment and the church leaders felt called upon to take the risk of bringing peace in the strife torn land of ours in conformity with the Christian principle of peace and reconciliation.
We have felt our word has become much poorer today because many of the outstanding Church leaders who had sacrificed their life and time to bring peace in our land are not with us today. Only a few of us who are here today are the living witnesses of their sacrifices and services. I can confidently say that our people are enjoying some measure of peace today in answer to their prayers and many other faithful people of God. As the restoration of permanent peace and a peaceful solution of the Indo- Naga political problem was the greatest concern of the Churches in Nagaland, the NBCC had to take a number of steps until a formal resolution was passed at the third Naga Baptist Convention held at Wokha in 1964 to set up a Peace Mission for the purpose of exploring ways and means to bring about a final solution to the vexed Naga political issue through peaceful means. (64 Quoted in Keviyiekielie Linyu, Christian Movements Nagaland, , pp. 210-212).
Our society at any given time, is not more or less than what it really is as seen and known by God our Creator. We are the product of all we have done which we should not have done, or not done which we should have done. We cannot deny our acts of commission and omission, individually and as tribes and factions, have produced a society that has become unmanageable in its viciousness, selfishness, greed, cynicism and insecurity.
The time has come for all who care for God’s ways to prevail in the world to act boldly together trusting fully in Him to guide and provide. The first step in the venture will obviously be to identify and flag all the issues where we know things have gone wrong and we have lived in without addressing them properly as God would require us to do. These issues that really make us poor in spirit and inadequate are the areas where God wants us to meet Him and one another. (See Part 2 No. 12 in Volume I of the book “Walking the Path of Despair and Hope: Understanding and Justifying the Ways of God”, by NBCC for the full text.)

Conclusion:
The long years of violence and conflict has certainly left the people with deep feelings. There is not one family untouched. Some have lost brothers, parents, other relatives or friends. Some still carry envy, hatred, bitterness or a spirit for revenge. These burning feelings also ruin many relationships, both inside and outside of families. Former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, “There is no future without forgiveness”. As we look ahead, in these crucial days of rebuilding our land we need forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and love to heal our wounds and establish us. The Nagaland Baptist Church Council is appreciative of other peace players in the peace-building effort as it does not consider itself to be the sole custodian of peace work. Peace is the business of everybody. But if all are to experience the fruit of living in truth, justice and peace in the land, then all the stakeholders must participate in the process of peace-building.

In the midst of such deplorable conditions – of moral decay, corruption, social injustices, political uncertainties – has the Church done enough? Probably not. But the Church has definitely raised legitimate questions of spiritual and social concerns, enduring peace and viable future which needs appropriate responses from all stakeholders – irrespective of religion or tribal affiliation. We need to rise up and help each member to become responsible citizens who cares.
We need to bring back the confidence in each person, despite the apparently insurmountable problems at hand, that the contribution of every individual is equally important in nation building. Finally, we need to recover the sense of responsibility whereby we are grateful to God for His gift of life, grateful to our forefathers for their sacrifices, and concern for the future generation.
May we stand together for peace wherever peace is endangered and to be God’s ambassadors of reconciliation, to mediate situations of conflict, to give courage to the weary, and to comfort those who suffer.

May the Peace of God prevail in our land!

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By EMN Updated: Sep 04, 2014 10:27:17 pm