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Indian States

Mizoram

BAPTIST CHURCH OF MIZORAM ( A MIRACLE STORY )
Ever since J. H. Lorrain and F.W. Savidge who under the auspices of "The Arthington Aborigine Missions' set their foot in this most north eastern region of India on the 12th of January the whole Mizo tribe underwent a rapid transformation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The erstwhile warlike Mizo tribe often known as ' head hunters' had now become self- supporting and growing missionary church. Following the history of this dramatic transformation which had few equals in the annals of modern church history. Patrick Johnstone comments: ' No nation on earth has sent out a higher proportion of their people as missionaries' (operation World)

The ensuing founding father of the Baptist Church of Mizoram also fondly remarked: ' The indigenous growth and progress of the Baptist Church of Mizoram reflects a miracle miracle and a success story of our mission'. (Rev Murray Raw- Formerly Chairman of the Baptist Missionary Society - London). This is indeed God's work for the people who could best be described as God's chosen tribesman.

ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY AND EXPANSION
The Church in Mizoram celebrated its Gospel Centenary - in 1994 to mark the advent of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the coming of two Baptist Pioneer missionaries in 1894. In a matter of just thirty years, the Mizo society witnessed a complete change through the gospel ! The pioneering efforts of the two missionaries was later consolidated by the Baptist Missionary Society of London. Now the numbers had exceed well over 100,000 members. Mizoram Baptist Church engaged besides its 854 staffs -500 missionaries including the supported native workers.

Mizoram had the highest literacy rate in India ( 95 % 95%) and is placed second in terms of Christian populations ( 85.73 %) only due to the rapid influx of illegal immigrants from neighboring states and Bangladesh. However, the most exciting thing about the Baptist Church of Mizoram is that of its firm conviction that the Mizos were chosen and called of God to be His witness for the Gospel to the nations.

THE LIFE AND WITNESS OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH OF MIZORAM
The distinctive nature of the Church in Mizoram is totally indigenous in worship, financial support, administration and in witnessing the gospel to others. Repeated revivals and peoples' movements in Mizoram had ensured formation of a distinctly indigenous Mizo church which is vibrant and out-going in giving, singing and witnessing. All the ministries of BCM are independently planned, managed and supported by the free-will contributions of its local church members. From neighborhood evangelism, the Baptist Church of Mizoram now moved to cross- cultural evangelism. By 1968, they adopted the Rabhas in Assam, in N.E. India when the Australian Baptist Mission had to leave this By God's grace, from a handful of believers, the Rabha Christians swells to more than 7000 now.

The second mission field for the BCM now shifted to Tripura State in partnership with the Tripura Baptist Union. By God's grace, the number of local churches had risen to more than 440 churches. Yet all over the State, the churches are still growing and multiplying! The speed and size of this movement is a miracle. This is the Lord's doing and glory be to His Name -!

Yet again, through fraternal partnership with other Baptist churches and Mission agencies, BCM mission and evangelism outreach had now covered most of N.E. States of India, Nepal, Thailand and Central part of India. The goal and Motto of Baptist Church of Mizoram is, ' Gospel for all' !

HOLISTIC MINISTRIES OF THE CHURCH
Baptist Church of Mizoram is fully committed to the model of service provided by our Lord when He comes to declare Good New, to heal the wounded and oppressed and to establish God's kingdom on this earth (Luke ). To carry out this prophetic and social transformation through the preaching of all the full gospel, BCM had initiated ten departments of ministries which are :-

Pastoral, Relief & Development, Christian Education, Property, Communication, Education, Medical, Women, Youth and Children, Pension Board and Theological Education Board. The varied ministries and different local churches are being managed under a centralized structural administration to ensure uniformity and efficiency. Now the annual contribution of the local churches to the central fund totaled more than Rs. 40,000,000 (U.S. $ 95,000). And following the traditional principle BCM allocated 50% of this amount to mission and evangelism. The great strength of BCM lies in the sacrificial and liberal giving of its members towards the ministries God entrusted to them. In the midst of their poverty, the Christians early learned that, ' it is more blessed to give than to receive' . This is to secret of their Church's growth.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVE TO FINISH THE GREAT TASK
What are the future plans and project of the Baptist Church of Mizoram ? Some of them had already been identified and concretize into plans and projects for implementations.

· The Academy of Integrated Christian Studies - a center for theological Education, missionary training center, School of Music, Ministerial Training, Research and Development - all five in one.

· Communication for mass media development, teaching and net-working.

· Adopting and reaching the unreached people groups in India and other countries through indigenous and partnership plan.

· Renewing and remodeling the local churches as house churches for faster growth and a deeper dynamic spiritual fellowship and vitality.

· Greater involvement in social action and reform, nation building and economic reforms.

· Challenging the youth with the gospel and mobilizing them for cross-cultural missions ahead.

YOU CAN BE PARTNERS
To fulfill the mandate of the Lord Jesus Christ, BCM is harnessing all it resources and would like to mobilize all it can for the support of like minded Christians for World mission. The challenge of reaching the unreached millions in India alone is staggering and yet together we believe it can be done ! Most of the people groups in India - (Schedule Caste 636 /Schedule Tribe -751/ Backward Classes -1046 /Other communities 2202 ) are still without the gospel. This is the challenge and the situation in the country is fast changing.

On the social front, often the country is hit by killer cyclone e.g.Orissa, W.Bengal, Andhra Pradesh etc who needs immediate relief. The Church in India is the best NGO to spearhead social transformation and human resources development. This calls for strengthening the hands of the church. All interested Christians, who wants to respond to the cry of the untold millions could give your helping hand in partnership with BCM. Kindly extend your hand of partnership by sending a a card or letters to the address given here below.

CATHOLIC CHURCH IN MIZORAM

The beginnings of the Catholic Church in Mizoram are traced back to the initiatives of some lay people. After reading some booklets on the Catholic faith, Pu Lianchheuva and his friends began to favour the Catholic faith and decided to take some steps for the spreading of the faith among the Mizo. Pu Lianchheuva, Pu Thangphunga, Pu Lenga, Pu Chalchhuna and Pu Lalbana held a meeting on 1st February 1925 and decided to profess and practice the Catholic faith. Members of their families also joined the faith.

They soon made personal contact with the Parish Priest of Chittagong, Rev Fr Bouley C.S.C. who agreed to pay a visit to Aizawl. He arrived at Aizawl on 28th November 1925 and stayed on there for eight days. On 6th December 1925 he baptized two children, J.F. Laldailova, son of Thangphunga and Lalbiakthangi, daughter of Lenga, to become the first Catholics baptized in Mizoram.

The Catholic members increased rapidly. In 1926 they became more than 200 members. They built a church with thatched roof in 1927 at Kulikawn, Aizawl, where Christ the King Cathedral is now located.

The spread of the Catholic faith soon became a matter of bad taste to other denominations. Their leaders even succeeded to convince the Governor of Assam with the help of the Superintendent of Lushai Hills to refuse any entry of Catholic Missionaries into Mizoram. This ban continued to be enforced till the end of 1946. Fortunately a new Governor, Sir Henry Knight took office and solved the problem of barring the entry of Catholic Missionaries into Mizoram. In December 1946, he issued an Order allowing Catholic Missionaries to enter into Mizoram.

Soon after the Governor’s Order was issued Rev Fr A de Montigny C.S.C. and Rev Fr Robert Lavoie C.S.C. came to Aizawl on 13th January 1947 to study the possibility of installing a mission station at Aizawl. After a week’s stay they left Aizawl for Silchar. To follow up their reports, the Bishop of Chittagong sent Rev Fr George Breen C.S.C, assisted by Rev Bro Gilbert Boucher C.S.C. to establish a mission station at Aizawl. They arrived at Aizawl on 15th April 1947 and made their settlement at Kulikawn. This day 115th April 1947 is therefore remembered as the official birthday of the Catholic Church in Mizoram.

Till 1952, Mizoram was under the Diocese of Chittagong. When the Prefecture Apostolic of Haflong was created on 17th January 1952, Mizoram came under this Prefecture. The Prefecture Apostolic of Haflong became a Diocese of Silchar on 29th June 1969, comprising the entire states of Mizoram, Tripura and the three districts of Assam, namely, Cachar, North Cachar and Hailakandi. Most Rev Denzil D’Souza became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Silchar. On 7th February 1996, the Diocese of Silchar became Diocese of Aizawl and the Diocesan See was transferred from Silchar to Aizawl.

The Catholic Church in Mizoram has grown from a single Parish to fifteen Parishes during a span of fifty years. Parishes in Mizoram at present (i.e. 2000 AD) are:

1.  Christ the King Cathedral Parish, Kulikawn -1947
2.  St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Chhingchhip -1951
3.  St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Kolasib -1953
4.  Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Serchhip -1976
5.  Parish of Holy Cross, Champhai -1979
6.  Parish of Sacred Heart, Lunglei -1983
7.  Parish of Mary Help of Christians, Saiha -1993
8.  St. Mary’s Parish, Electric Veng, Aizawl -1993
9.  St. John Bosco’s Parish, Seling -1993
10. St. Francis Xavier’s Parish, Kanhmun -1995
11. St. John Bosco’s Parish, Lawngtlai -1998
12. St. John’s Parish, Khawzawl -1998
13. St. Paul’s Parish, Sihphir -1999
14. St. Thomas’ Parish, Ramhlun -1999
15. St. Francis Xavier’s Parish, Mamit -2000

The Catholic Church in Mizoram is not only catering to the spiritual needs but also for the temporal needs of the people of Mizoram. The Church therefore works to promote education, peace, social justice, social health etc. The Church makes a very significant contribution in the field of education by running more than thirty educational institutions in the state, three Higher Secondary, five Secondary and more than twenty Elementary schools. Besides these the Church runs dispensaries, technical schools, charity homes, social work centers, printing presses, hostels etc.

During these past decades the Catholic Church in Mizoram had made significant strides towards adulthood by contributing many of her sons and daughters as Missionaries to carry on the various apostolic activities of the Church. There are, as of now, six priests, more than fifty Religious Sisters and half a dozen Religious Brothers among the Mizo, serving in the vineyard of the Lord in different parts of India and abroad.

Presently, there are 41 priests, 62 Religious Sisters, 15 Religious Brothers, 2 Regency Brothers, 18 Catechists and many committed lay leaders together with their Bishop, joyously working for the cause of the Kingdom and for the welfare of Mizo people.


 
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