Post Mortem

Churches to the rescue

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/17/2020 12:29:42 PM IST

 By the time this article is done reading more number of corona positive case would have been added to the already existing number. The Recent attack of coronavirus has taught us that not only the state Government but the Church also must be prepared to assist in such emergency situations. It was comforting to see many churches in Nagaland donate Cash and other items to fight corona. 

Questions like what is the role of the Church in such epidemic out break? (By church I mean the Church administration such as the senior Pastors board members of the Baptist Churches who decide on how the church functions and what to do with the funds).  How prepared are the Baptist Churches in Nagaland?  how must the churches prepare for the future epidemic attacks? These are questions good as gold. As a Baptist I am referring to the Baptist churches. However the responsibility for the believer’s good health is upon all the churches regardless of denomination or non denomination.

The responsibility of the church is not limited by time, space, matter or situation. Just as Gods love is infinite so is the responsibility of the church. The church has a supreme responsibility to its believers and its communities. Its responsibility includes the well being of both Spiritual and Physical aspect. 

To understand the divine responsibility of the church during outbreak of epidemic let’s look at the Antonine Plague which struck Rome in 165 AD. It was far deadlier than COVID-19. It is said that 2,000 people died per day. Rome did not have the medical facilities like we do today, but Rome survived.  One of the reason was because of the Love and care shown by the Christians. When the heathens would throw out those who were sick to die in the streets, the Christians would take them and care for them. Many Christians lost their lives while taking care of the sick. Yet it demonstrated the love of Christ and won the hearts of many. How are the churches in Nagaland in comparison with the early churches in Rome?

One may argue that spiritual well being is the most important job of the Church. It is true, however since the Spirit dwells in the Physical body of a person, the physical well being becomes equally important as that of Spiritual well being. 

The current corona situation proves that there is an urgent need for the Baptist Churches in Nagaland to immediately take some necessary steps for the safety and security of its church members and the community. Following are few top priorities which need to be act upon:-

(i) The Baptist Churches in Nagaland must immediately start establishing Medical Health care centers all around Nagaland. Medical health care centers such clinic, Multi diagnostic Hospitals, cancer Institute etc.  

The health care centers would serve multiple purposes. The churches would  have a proper system to fight future outbreak of epidemics. It would also provide affordable medical treatment to all who needs it. This would lead to mass job creation for the many that are unemployed. This in turn will grow into medical colleges. Nagaland is yet to see its first Hospital established by the Baptist churches.

The cost of medical treatment is increasing every day. Many of our church members take loans on interest to go for medical treatment or to help someone in need of treatment. They end up paying the loan which puts them in a position where they cannot even pay their 10% tithes. Some go to the extreme extend of selling their house to pay for the medical treatment. There is an urgent need for Baptist churches establish health care centers where believers and other can take shelter in the time of epidemic storm at the same time avail affordable health care service. A very minimum fee must be charged to the customers, after all divine healing is free but medical establishments cost to maintain.

 (ii) A trust fund must be created to fund the establishment and manage the health care centers. 

Although there are no Baptist church operated health care centers in Nagaland. There are many in other states of India which are managed by Churches from various denominations. Take for example the Bangalore Baptist Hospital. It started as a small clinic by the help of International Mission Board of the southern Baptist convention in the mid 1960. Today it is a 340 bed Multispecialty hospital which has 120 doctors and employs around 1200 people. Thank God for the great vision which the Southern Baptist convention saw for the future. Thank God that they did not hesitate to start small. Today thousands all over India are benefiting from Bangalore Baptist hospital. 

We all can agree that we cannot depend on the Government hospitals. Most of the Government hospitals are in pathetic conditions. Private hospitals are out of reach for many because it’s too expensive.  

Just last year as per news item published in the local daily Nagaland Post dated Nov 21 , 2019 page 1,  the Guwahati High Court ordered the Nagaland Health and family welfare department to pay Rs 25 Lakhs as compensation to the family of a pregnant woman from Mon Distinct who died. The pregnant mother died because the Government Sub-center at Monyakshu, Mon was not only closed but it did have the necessary facility for delivering the baby.

This is a rare incident where the victim’s family stood up for what is right. If more people sued the State Government for the right matter taking the free help of legal aid available at all respective district there is greater chance that the Government health care centers might improve.

(iii) Baptist churches in Nagaland must agree to put on hold the practice of building expensive church building which go way out of the churches budget.

Imlisanen Phom, Dimapur

(To be concluded...)


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