Charnwood Road Baptist Church

Ruth & Bob - 2 May 2007

Dear friends, Ruth & Bob Ellett

  This is the first day off with full power for the last two months; Nagaland electricity has been struggling to service their main transformers and we have been living on half power since before Easter.  You do it by having the power switched off to your house/ business for two hours out of every three. Life has been a struggle for everybody. At the hospital we have running a diesel generator when needed but it still has to be turned on. Ruth has had to make choices between ironing and running the fridge. She and Judith cook on bottled gas, baking is out of the question.

  Communications have been especially bad. We have had days without any possibility of e-mail, phone or post.

  I had the experience recently of ringing a very large Indian Company in Bombay to find out about their product in Nagaland, only to be asked about which country was I in. So if big India does not know where we are what hope is there for the rest of the world. Dimapur where we are living is the largest town in Nagaland and apart form my BMS colleagues Tony and Judith Sykes there are apparently no other people from outside. We are here building a regional hospital so that the really sick do not have to be transported out to mainland India. Hopefully being an encouragement to those around us. Openness is a healthy thing in any society and forms the core of a democracy. Yet for historical political reasons it is very difficult for anyone out of India to visit Nagaland. So we feel ourselves to be privileged to be here.
 If you are a Christian visitor then Nagaland is truly amazing. It is a Christian state, there are Christian cartoons in the main daily newspaper. There are churches in Dimapur which could safely house many British cathedrals. Just down the road from us is one about the size of Victoria station. But it is church attendance  that is really remarkable. We have heard that in one European country (not Britain)  it is usual for everybody to get to church five minutes before the start of the service. Here it is fifteen minutes. Last week we were ten minutes early and had great difficulty in getting a seat in our local Baptist church. Ao Kashiram church is just over the fence from where we are living and we can hear all the services, all choir practices, and all the prayer meetings and the church is constantly alive. Of course all the services are in the Ao Naga language; one of sixteen totally different languages that separate the tribes of Nagaland.  There is no common language. There is a cobbled together trade language called Nagamese which is a mixture of a bit of Naga languages, Hindi, Assamese, Mizo and others, and there is English. It is English that offers the best hope of breaking out of this tower of Babel situation. Almost all young Nagas speak English very well. The church pastors have been trained in English and most commercial transactions go on in English. This is the first country where to be the natural bearer of English is not to be pushing a form of cultural imperialism but rather rather being part of the way out of a difficult problem.

  Recent events underline the problem. Last Sunday inter tribal violence flared up in a way that has not been seen for many years. Young men from the Sumi tribe attacked and burned down 28 houses of the Tangul tribe who live next door to them here in Dimapur. There are now some thirty displaced Tangul families living on a police camp on the outskirts of the town. All our Naga friends are horrified and very afraid that things might go back to the bad old days before Christianity when there was constant tribal fighting. The good side, if there can be a good side, is that no one was killed and that there has been a very public pulling back from the brink, much talk of reconciliation and a general call to prayer.

  This is the background to the work going on at the hospital. Somehow or other in the last 18 years £20 million has been spent by the previous contractors at the site and there is still no hospital. If you wanted to know where the money went you could look around at the vast unfinished buildings, and half installed equipment. Now a Christian organisation is busy making a hospital that works, for a tiny fraction of the money previously spent. In the next few weeks I will be installing an electrical system, which includes two miles of power cables five refurbished power panels and other equipment.  When that is done in the next two months we will be coming home, hopefully in the knowledge that the hospital will be up and working.

  We have learned many lessons. That Christian faith is not the intellectual assent to a set of ideas. If it was then attending a service in unknown language would be totally meaningless. As it is the services we have attended here have been a great blessing, the Lord has taught us lessons through sermons in Ao. We have shared in fellowship in unexpected ways, He is truly present in His people.

  Prayer points please pray for:-
2.That materials will flow freely for the work.
3.For contacts between Nagaland and the rest of the world.
4.That we can cope with the pressure of work.

Thank you for being concerned

Yours in Christian love

Bob and Ruth Ellett

24 September 2018                                         Back to top