Welcome New Year 2023 : New Year service in Shillong

Lunminthang Haokip *

OLD THINGS PASS AWAY: The world celebrates a NEW YEAR in a big way. Youngsters think that on New Year's Eve, they can get sozzled, get befuddled and drive their mobikes, and make the new year sizzle with their reckless top-gear philandering. The old adage goes, "Drive like hell, and you will be there."

Believers gathered for Watch-night Service after 11 pm on 31st December. Every thinking person nursed a desire to turn a new leaf. So in prayer mode, decisions were taken to come out clean from evil habits.

But old habits die hard. "Sheesha ho ya vaade ko, aakhir toot jata hai." A few days into the new year, decision-makers become decision-breakers themselves. Is it going to be an unhappy new year ? Unless the old stuff is done away with, the new cannot hold sway.

Ephesians 4:22 says, "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." 'Put on and put off' reminds you of the daily dresses you wear. You put on in the morning and put off when they are not required.

The same should be done with your nature. You can kick a bad habit only by the 'trick of victory' of the cross and the power of the resurrection. 2 Cor 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

MY SALAD DAYS IN SHILLONG : Happenings around the year-end days of 2022 left me stranded in Shillong. Such is the unpredictable steering of life. In a way I was happy because I spent the better part of my College studies in the abode of clouds called Meghalaya. It was between 1973 and 1976 when I was exposed to the flip-side of Shillong culture of Fetes, Rock music and pocket pinching fashion of the day. Made in a different mould, I simply couldn't fit in.

Trying to gel well with the ultra western lifestyle, for me, was like Gandhiji imitating the English gentlemen. I was Fresh from a nominal Christian family in which the Word of God was minimal, and prayer was not normal.

So, I was good from far but far from good. My unchastened wild nature made me, not even a wolf in a sheep's clothing, but a wolf which didn't bother to put on a sheep's clothing. I attended Church services on the Lord's days, but nothing got registered. I was sort of 'using my head for nothing except to keep my earlobes apart.' I stayed near a Church building, but ironically, I was far from God.

ACTIVATION OF 'DEACTIVATED' SOULS: God used Bro Joshua Thomas, the Former Director of Indian Institute of Social Scidnce Research, Shillong, to prayerfully build up an LEF Centre at Itshyrwat, Mawpat, Shillong. Brother Thomas intuitively used his official clout and influence to witness and win souls for the Lord.

Dr Kalai, his wife also was a qualified help-meet in building God's kingdom. Acquiring land and constructing a decent prayer hall in a place far away from home and where local restrictions were there, was no mean feat. Apart from the Former Director's PR skills, the Lord was on the side of Bro Joshua in having stitched up a considerable Fellowship in a someone else's domain.

Turning a 'goat' into a sheep and feeding it to grow up to maturity is the work of anointed labourers in the Lord's vineyard. Thomas' tireless pursuit of the sinner with a view to transform them is, now, paying rich dividends. The love of God, throughout the centuries, kept raising committed labourers in His vineyard to create a ripple-effect of revival waves.

LYRICAL WELCOME OF NY-2023: To welcome New Year 2023, the Fellowship families of Meghalaya's capital city presented group songs. It's like lyrical rendition of gratitude to the Lord for keeping 'us' in the loop. The Shillong Centre has a well-thought out and designed stage with two walled rooms on either side.

The large prayer hall is equipped with state-of-the art sound system and a drum kit. Uncle Joshua Daniel who preached in almost in all the capital towns and cities of North East India, from 1986 to 2012, would have been very happy with what Shillong Fellowship have achieved. He invested his soul to raise true believers from this part of the country. We can see the promises of God being fulfilled.

The family song items stood out for their spiritual depth in praise, if not for their vocal finesse. The name of the Lord was lifted high. With thanks to the early Welsh missionaries, Meghalaya and Mizoram are way ahead in choir singing and music handling.

SHARING MY TESTIMONY: Meeting me after a long time, the C-in-C, Centre-in-charge, asked me to share my testimony. I gave a brief account of my spiritual conversion. In 1993, killings in clashes in my State created the fear possible death in me. Uncle Joe's bold preaching helped my moribund soul to come alive. I came to know that I was a helpless sinner in desperate need of the Saviour.

My hardened heart was further dealt and softened by the May Retreat messages. I became emotion-choked when God's servant challenged Evangelists, "Are you coming here to seek good partners for your sons and daughters? If so, go back." In my return journey, I was asked to confess all my sins. I did.

The Lord spoke to me from John 5:14 and Rom. 8:1 & 2. God forgave my sins. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death." I experienced what John Wesley did on 24th May, 1738, "My heart was strangely warmed."

GOD DOES NOT SLUMBER: As usual, Bro Thomas was in his elements as he preached from Psalm 121; particularly from verses 3-5, "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand." The seasoned preacher narrated as to how earthquake destroyed parts of Darjeeling. Shillong and other parts of NEI are also prone to earth-shakes. It's the Lord who keeps us safe while we sleep. He does not sleep nor slumber.

The servant of God also quoted Isaiah 27:3, "I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it." Bro Thomas cited the lives of Elijah and Jacob. God cared for them in a special way. He also recollected the marvellous ways by which the Lord took care of his life when he faced dangers in the course of his Ministry journeys in Norrh East India.

The bottom line of the sermon was that we must all be connected to God, and stay separate from sin in 2023 so God may protect and keep us. The Almighty intervened to keep troubles at bay on his ways to places in his missionary trips.

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on January 04 2023 .

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