Tucked away in a remote corner of northeast India is the state of Nagaland. Thirteen distinct tribes of Naga people live there. The Nagas are a proud people who find themselves living within the borders of India; however, this doesn't mean they can be associated historically, culturally, linguistically, or ethnically with other Indian races. In fact, Nagas do not consider Nagaland to be a part of India.
Since May 2014, India has been governed by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a radical Hindu leader. Nearly 80% of Indians are Hindu, with just over 2% of India being Christian. In contrast, Nagaland is a predominately Christian region. As the level of intolerance towards Christians continues to increase and Christians are regularly being persecuted, this puts Nagaland in a precarious position.
When western missionaries came into contact with the Nagas in the 1800s, they found a fearsome people who practiced head hunting. The practice of head hunting in Nagaland only started to subside after the Gospel took hold and Naga Christians learned of the value God places on human life. As tens of thousands of Nagas came into relationship with Christ in the 1960s, the practice of head hunting began to fade.
In February of 2017, our Global Advance team held a FrontLine pastors conference to train and equip leaders in the city of Dimapur Nagaland. We gathered 200 leaders for 3 days of training. An angry civil protest was crippling normal life in the state as Nagas protested against the Indian government just a few hundred yards from where we where meeting. Despite the tense atmosphere around the training venue, the teaching team experienced an open heaven. The Naga leaders were trained and challenged to be the catalyst for spreading the Gospel throughout India and to follow the mandate given by Christ to fulfill the Great Commission. As a result of our Global Advance training, 62 Nagas committed to serving in cross cultural missions, and 11 Nagas committed to planting a church in the coming months to engage unreached people with the love of Christ.
Global Advance is investing resources in the SAARC region of South Asia (The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), an 8 nation coalition, to grow a strategic partnership that will have an impact on the region at large. Our commitment is to accelerate efforts to complete the Great Commission in the SAARC region. With India as one of the nations participating in the coalition, Nagaland is strategically located near large populations of unreached people with few churches and even fewer missionaries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, and western China. Nagaland looks to be one of many pockets of future church planters ready to advance the dreams of God in the earth. From head hunters to church planters, these tribal people are poised to make a great contribution for the Kingdom of God.