This week, please intercede with us for Kesolenuo Suokhrie from Nagaland, India.
Along with Meghalaya and Mizoram, Nagaland is one of three Indian states (all in the Northeast) with a Christian majority. Around 88% of Nagaland’s 2 million people follow Jesus. In contrast, only 2% of India’s 1.3 billion people identify as Christians, while 80% practice Hinduism. Since 2000, Nagaland has hosted its annual Hornbill Festival – featuring folk music and dance, traditional archery and wrestling, artwork and handicrafts, and pepper-eating contests – to celebrate the state’s rich cultural heritage and encourage cooperation among Nagaland’s 16 minority tribes.
Keso is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies at Durham University (UK). By exploring themes of inclusivity and social justice in the Hebrew Bible, Keso seeks to propose a strong biblical case against the racism, social discrimination, and violence arising from ethnocentric and exclusivist ideologies. Her research interest stems from her ministry among refugees and concern over mounting intolerance in Nagaland toward migrants. After graduation, Keso will return to her teaching post at Oriental Theological Seminary in Nagaland.
Keso shares the following message:
Nagaland is a Christian-dominated state in the northeastern part of India, owing our Christian heritage to American Baptist missionaries. Today, Baptists constitute the majority of the Naga Christian population, making Nagaland the biggest Baptist state in the world.
I am employed by Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), our foremost Baptist organization, to teach at its only seminary, Oriental Theological Seminary (OTS). OTS is a leading evangelical school in the region, and my pursuit of an advanced degree is part of OTS’s faculty development program. Over the years, OTS has produced some of the finest leaders, pastors, teachers, missionaries, social activists, and scholars who are making a huge impact, both locally and globally. As an institution of the Church, OTS serves the needs of more than 1,500 churches under the NBCC and beyond. OTS is also heavily engaged in society, seeking to bring about social change through its prophetic ministry.
I have just begun my coursework at Durham University in the United Kingdom. I am working on an integrated PhD and MA in year one, and will do PhD research from year two onward. My doctoral research focuses on social justice, particularly for immigrants. This interest comes from my own experiences working with Karen refugees, displaced by communal violence, at the Thai-Myanmar border and in Australia.
In my own context, the influx of Muslim Bangladeshis into Nagaland has led to serious issues. To the natives, immigrants are outsiders who are invading our land, exhausting our resources, and threatening the identities of our indigenous peoples. Hence, there have been discussions of their deportation en masse. Such insecurity and intolerance not only hinder social interaction, but also provoke fear and prejudice, disrupting harmony and peaceful coexistence, and triggering conflicts.
Unquestionably, such attitudes also challenge biblical norms and standards, which so vehemently uphold the virtues of love, justice, tolerance, and embrace. Hence, in working on this topic, I hope to argue against ideologies that resent outsiders and depreciate social interaction or integration.
1) Our Naga people have had a long history of political strife and tension with the Indian government. Peace talks and settlements are ongoing. Pray for wisdom and direction.
2) Corruption is making life severe and miserable in Nagaland. Pray for restoration.
3) The nominal spirituality of our people is at its lowest point. Pray for revival and renewal.
4) Pray for the Church to continue to provide spiritual guidance and be an agent of transformation.
5) Pray for OTS as it pursues its vision of training and equipping Christian leaders for the Church and society.
6) Pray for my studies. While I am still working on my doctoral dissertation proposal, I will be writing essays and exams over the next couple of months, followed by an MA thesis.