Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag Marching for God's Kingdom
18 mei 2015
Marching for God's Kingdom
The border region between Myanmar and India has a Christian majority. This remarkable fact has been accomplished by 19th century missionaries, although the faith spreads on like an ink spot on a piece of white paper, nowadays due to the activities of local missionaries. I had a couple of encounters with missionaries and they are nice, selfless people that are genuinely working for the good of the small isolated communities they serve.
Most of the Chin in Myanmar and three states of India (Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya) have a Christian majority, and Manipur and Arunachal have big Christian minorities. Some are Catholic, but most have been converted by small insignificant splinter groups from the US, often with very strict interpretations of the Bible. This means Bible texts are found everywhere in the public space, people name their shops or vehicles "Christ the Saviour" or "God is Merciful", and streets are named Nazareth Avenue, Gethsemane Street or Zion Road. On Sunday all life comes to an absolute stand-still, which is annoying when you want to buy food or make a journey. These Christians consider their region to be the new Zion, and have an urge to promote and spread their belief across other areas. According to one slogan, "God's children are marching for His Kingdom".
The most fruitful objects of proliferation turned out to be animistic tribal peoples. Such heathen still worship nature spirits and sacrifice animals to them. When their knowledge is updated about Jesus' message and crucifixion they seem to be very willing to join a congregation. Less fruitful is the work of God among Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, and in fact the rapid spread of Christianity has risen some eyebrows amongst the pious from other faiths.
I met a friendly monk in Kalemyo, north of Chin State in Myanmar, who told me he was on a mission to the Chin to convert them to Buddhism. Burmese nationalists consider it their job to make their country a "pure", entirely Buddhist place. This means they work to convert Muslims (Burmese Muslims are called Rohingya, and are heavily discriminated in Myanmar, even denied citizenship) and Christians in the western, tribal regions of the country. It seems a very hard task, since Muslims and Christians are not easily convinced.
Similarly, Hindu nationalists are worried about Christian missionaries converting vast areas in India. They have watched their adversaries well, and copied some of their methods to push back. The (Hindu) Ramakrishna foundation is now building modern looking schools, orphanages and hospitals across the northeastern tribal areas. In fact such institutes look far beyond anything available in other parts of India. In other places they work among the animist tribes to convince them there nature spirits are actually the same as Hindu Gods. With money of the Ramakrishnas, neat new temples are built over Animist altars and places of worship on hill tops. Inside there are magnanimously looking portraits of Hindu gods, to inform the locals of their benevolence.
Religion keeps fascinating me and I wonder what the outcome of these missionary activities of all these religions will be. It seems unlikely the northeastern Christians will join Hinduism or Buddhism. It seems equally unlikely Christianity will succeed in spreading beyond the tribal regions. What is clear though, is that the hill peoples will all loose their Animistic beliefs eventually. That seems a cultural loss to me.
10 juni 2015 13:05 | Door: hanny
Religie blijft een gespreksonderwerp dat voortdurende verwondering oproept.....hoe kunnen zoveel mensen denken dat ze het juiste doen en weten en tegelijkertijd zoveel ellende,geweld en verdriet teweegbrengen.... en dat al zoveel eeuwen lang?
En dan komen er nog de machtswellustigen bij om het kruitvat aan te steken...
Dank voor de rustige en verstandige manier om er over te schrijven!