Post Mortem

Emperical evidences of COVID-19 challenges in Dimapur context

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/24/2020 1:33:55 PM IST

 For India Nation the pandemic Covid-19 was announced by Honorable Prime Minister on 24th March 2020. Lotha Baptist Church Dimapur Deacons Board decided in an emergency meeting resolved to stop congregational worship services on 22nd March 2020. Infact, it was a tough but right decision to be made because this nature of decision has never been in the History of our Church. My empirical evidence challenge started from 22nd March 2020 and still continuing till date. In this fight of Covid-19 journey is purely based on personal empirical evidence.

First challenge: Covid-19 Pandemic is not a law and order problem, it’s a Medical, Health Emergencies. My intention of highlighting certain issues with police is not mean to blame them, but to be learned from mistake.

My first encounter with Police was on 29th March 2020 that was Sunday. Since it was Sunday I went alone to Church for prayer. As soon as I reached home I received a call from Police station and the police officer asked me to come to Police station without informing the reason, immediately I rushed to the police station and inquired about the reason. He charged me why did I conduct worship service. So, I replied to him, who informed you? what evidence to you have to summon me in police station without proper investigation or evidence. After exchange of words I came back from there. And the above incident goes viral in social media. Some friends were insisting to write an FIR against the informer but in good faith I turn down their suggestion. I was mentally disturbed, being harassed without my fault.

Second incident was while going for prayer and distribution of relief to the needy persons, we were stopped by police. I showed by own Covid-19 Identity Card but the policeman replied in a very sarcastic manner, “Heto card thori kina prathana koribole jai naki?” carrying this ID is not meant to go for prayer. I am quite sure he was also a Christian or a member in a particular Church, still then he acted as though he knew nothing about the value of prayer and service to mankind in this difficult time, where people suffer from many factors. But being trained police personal needs more politeness and diplomacy in dealing with others, who are also serving others without being paid anything to serve people.

 Second challenges: Many civil societies, non-governmental organizations and many groups and individuals are actively engaged in the battle of Covid-19 but for the sake of space, let me concentrate on Churches participation in this challenge. My empirical studies confine in two levels; Internal and external participation of Churches.

a) Internal: According to my observation, almost all the Churches in Dimapur have been actively helping their own members in various ways, inspite of Churches economic being badly hampered, the Churches in Dimapur are continuingly supporting their members, according to their need base. And yet, this pandemic Coivd-19 fight is still on. Perhaps Churches in Dimapur should come together as a team and consider this pandemic task as a new challenge in our approach towards mission to create a new outcome within our Mission strategy.

b) External: In this regard there are two categories. One as a Church organization and the other, Leaders of the Churches. As Church organization, the involvement is external services to a larger group of people which is visible in terms of donation, relief work, support to administration, time to time encouraging others by way of prayer, counseling, etc. But my point is that the capacity in terms of economic and human power is second to none. Doing relief work to the needy persons occasionally, financial assistance to the government is well appreciated. But on the other hand, the expectation by the common people from the Churches could be more than what has been done. In such pandemic Covid-19 situation, the Churches can come under one roof and could work more meaningful in a general way to let the citizen of Dimapur feel the Holistic support by the Churches. This pandemic Covid-19 is not a burden but an opportunity to set an example to the common people that Churches really care and love God’s people. Surely if Churches continually support people, this act of kindness would certainly create a strong memory in the hearts of people for a long time. It is a wake up call to all the Churches.

The other concern is, as leaders of Churches, we have been serving people, facing different kinds of situations make us qualify to deal with humans suffering and problems. So to deal with many human problems Church leaders are also second to none. One of the ways to contain the spread of Covid-19 has to deal with lifestyle or human behaviors. Often regulation of SOP to the citizens will not be much helpful, unless, people change their behavior or lifestyle. Therefore, to educate the masses to change their behavior or lifestyle, as experienced leader in dealing human problems, our active involvement in this factor is mandatory demanded by the Covid-19 context.

Church leaders should become role models to be impacting the community. So wake up call during these pandemic crises is how many Church leaders are actively serving the society? Just compare the service rendering by the frontline workers. All these days, they have been working day and night inspite of many criticism, discriminations and stigmatization they lay down their lives, taking all the risks. We the Church leaders are called to serve people in any situations, even up to death like our master Jesus. Giving life for the good news of God does not mean only in witnessing God’s word but by serving people in any situation.

A Naga Contractor shared his involvement in Covid-19 from the day one till date he visited several places, helped many organizations and individuals spending some lakhs of rupees. For me, it is God given opportunity to serve people but not a burden. Let us commit once again to avail this privilege to serve God’s people.

Third challenges: More than 20,000 returnees have already landed in our State and are still coming. Almost the returnees from different cities in India are engaged in different jobs. It is not only about their survivor but through their earning, at homes many parents are being supported by them. Once these young people were job holders but now they are jobless, even some parent’s survivors is at stake.

Now the question is how will the Churches and Church leaders respond to this issue? Is this issue solely Government responsible? Do we have any concern for these returnees?. In order to respond to this challenge, the Churches and leaders should have a new dimension in our mission-vision. Unless, the leaders of the Churches take up this challenge on priority with broad holistic approach, the Churches will have to face many social unrest. And moreover, many souls will have to suffer.

Fourth challenges:The impact of Covid-19 among the community at present, the seriousness is about the health issue. But the impact of Covid-19 among the communities on social discriminations and stigmatizations would remain for a lifelong, unless the Church do something to heal this psychological breakdown or relationship barrier created by discrimination and stigmatization. Covid-19 may one day subside because it is health issue but physiological or mental issue will be there in the minds of those who are being victimized. This needs a healing process. The calling of Church leaders also mean to heal and create a strong relationship among the community under the principle of Kingdom of God. For this challenge, the Church leaders cannot remain silent. The need of the hour is that many Church leaders should become counselors not in the Church pulpit alone but should get involved in house to house ministry.

In conclusion since the day one of Covid-19 lockdown was imposed till date as a Church worker, I have been supporting and serving people risking life, extending help to the needy people in any possible way from my side.

To me, and my family, I understood that it is not a burden but an opportunity to serve those who are in need, knowing how much the Lord has blessed me and my family in these difficult times. 

Saint Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. 2 Timothy 4:6. Lastly I pray for the Christian Leaders wherever you may be, that God’s favour be upon you, like “Gideon the Brave” in the Bible to fight for the needy in these difficult times when we are needed the most.

Yanbemo Lotha, Pastor Lotha Baptist Church Dimapur


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