Nagaland—January 2016

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments
of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness … For as the earth brings
forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will
cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations.” Isa 61:10–11
Back from the Mountains
We have returned from the high mountains of Nagaland to Kolkata, India. The journey included a helicopter flight into Tuensang, followed by an eight-hour truck drive over the rugged and winding mountain roads to Pungro, near the India/Myanmar border. Though the weather was cold, cloudy, and rainy, at times the sun broke through to reveal snow-covered Mount Saramati, standing over 12,000 feet high, right on the border. For four days, I taught pastors, helped by Blair Buselli, while Nan and Blair’s wife Aurora held Children’s Bible schools. Days were busy with instruction, and nights were spent around a roaring fire, as we looked around at the flickering, fire-lit faces of Naga men, draped in their tribal cloaks, telling stories of their lives and struggles. Two of the men, Pastor H. and Pastor B., told of the severe persecutions and imprisonments they had endured in their lives. We felt honored to be in their presence and to see the joy and peace they exhibited.
Leaving our new friends at the end of this time, we journeyed back to a theological college (KTC), where 91 students are being trained for service to their people. The school sits about 6,700 feet up on the sides of the rugged range of mountains, and was even colder—often just above freezing, with dark clouds and rain. In the mornings—often after bathing in cold water—we were always eager to get to the kitchen hut, where the fire was blazing in the fireplace. Here we began our day with cups of hot tea, talking with the three young ladies who prepared meals for us. While Blair and I taught the students, Nan and Aurora went to several different villages nearby for the children’s programs.
In the afternoons, the ladies returned to the Bible College and trained the students in children’s ministry. Then, at night, we again sat around the campfire with our guide, Throngji, and the staff, talking under the starry sky (when the clouds parted). The students were shy, but hungry and, as the next six days went by, became more and more open and talkative.
Nan and I would rise before five o’clock in the morning for an hour-or-more walk along the rugged mountain road, with the surrounding forest shrouded in mist and cloud. Then we would go back for a cold wash from a bucket, preparation, and breakfast before getting into the labors of the day. We are so thankful for Blair and Aurora’s help and sacrificial service. Both left jobs for over a month to come and work with us. They have been so helpful and never complained of the difficulties involved. They were both a hit playing volleyball with the students and, on our final evening with the students, they had a bonfire and question-and-answer session with the students. In April, 13 graduates from the school will move on to either further training or ministry among their mountain towns and villages. We are also supporting two of last year’s graduates as they continue their training. We ask for your prayers for the work here, as this area is remote and, until 2012, had no real contact with the outside world. There is much confusion on the clear and simple Gospel. Many areas of sound teaching needed to be introduced and reinforced, for the enemy of souls never ceases to work for the confusion and complication of the truths of God’s Word.
Our departure from the wonderful college family saw many tears as we drove back to Tuensang, to the newly opened Bethel Children’s Home, where we found seven small girls who had just arrived at the beautiful home Throngji and his wife provide for them. We played games with the children and laughed a lot at their antics. One little girl had lost her parents and was taken into a home where she and her brother were severely beaten. They fled from the home, and were found sleeping in a graveyard, cold and hungry. This was all the more heart-rending in light of the fact that one small boy at the last children’s program, who attended the first two days of teaching and fun, had been badly beaten and died later that night. On the following Sunday, I spoke to the people of the town on “The Death of a Little Child,” providing biblical assurance that the boy was now in the heavenly kingdom.
Our intended extraction by helicopter went awry due to radio difficulties, so we loaded up and traveled for over ten hours on the twisting and dangerous roads to the closest airport. Tonight, we leave for “Area 2” and six days of ministry with pastors. We will be visiting villages, and dedicating a new church which my cousin, Ken Buck, has helped to build. At the end of this time, we will head north to the foothills of the Himalayas for two more conferences. Please keep us in your prayers, for safe travel, strength and wisdom, and faithful ministry. We’ll report more on our return home. We appreciate so much your prayers and support, which mean so much to these precious believers—and to us.
Sojourning on,
Gene and Nan