The history of Christianity in the land of the rising sun will remain incomplete without mentioning the name of the … Arunachalee degree holder of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Being an early learned band almost all his contemporary educated friends absolved in the coveted government job and steadily most of them rose up to the head of departmental offices in the government of Arunachal Pradesh. Among them few were nominated as UPSC officers. His other Arunachalee school friends studying in West Bengal chose the political field. Later on some became Ministers, Member of Parliament, Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor. While his school friends were pursuing for popularity, position and power to serve the people and society, he opted for a unique profession where people rarely joined. Although there seemed to be no better scope, job prospect and scoring personal luxurious life yet he decided to chase the dream he had. On the other hand, there was no desirable facilitates, respectable post and professional work suitable for the aspirant. This vocation does not have any salary, travel allowance, dearness allowance, health insurance, life insurance and retirement policies. He gave up his promising career prospect in the secular world where he probably could have had huge desirable position but instead he moved on towards the narrow path to proclaim his newly embraced faith.
Longkhap Merang was born before Indian independence in 2nd February 1946 in the … village of the present Changlang district during the British rule in India. While studying at the Demonstration School of Changlang (renamed as a Government Higher Secondary School) for the first time in his life he saw the New Testament bible from one of his relative in his native village. That bible had lots of pictures which can be termed as a pictorial bible. Probably this torn bible was abandoned by the British army during the Second World War or might be presented by some English missionary. By that time few poor villagers especially widows and the needy sections of the society accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In that same year his friend invited him to join them in the X-mas festival. For the first time, he joined them in their evening worship service on the 24th of December. There he felt warmness in the meeting and had a unique experience which he never had before in any form of worship function. He still cherishes this special moment of fellowship in his heart and freshness in his mind that caused him to decorate that moment with flower in fancy. Afterwards he became an instrument for the birth of new fellowships and key speaker in such kinds of Christian carnival. He was the third batch of that school and secured the third rank (second among Arunachalee) in Class VI result in the North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) board of Shillong. The government awarded him with Rs. 7/- monthly as a scholarship fee for one academic year.
In December 1969 he went to the R.K. Mission School Narandrapur, Calcutta and admitted in Class IX in Agronomy and opted for the Hindi language. He was a top academic ranker in NEFA but there he became the weakest in learning due to language problem and was unable to adjust in the new environment. While embarking in the new culture there in his mind three questions rose to which he attempted to search for the genuine answer. First is to find out whether the tribal are equal with the other Indians because lots of people were criticizing the tribal people. Besides in popular interpretation of the social system the tribal status was not included which added more to his dilemmas. Second is which is the best suitable religion to be followed by the tribal group as the tribal religious practice is totally different from the rest of Indians. Accordingly, tribal religious practice is not in harmony with the other tribe that confused him further. Finally, he decided to do his best in Agronomy to help the people of NEFA to transform their styles of cultivation in the light of the latest farming methods. The shifting cultivation practiced by the people of NEFA has required tremendous energy and lots of time taking but yield less harvest which is insufficient to feed their families throughout the year. Being an agronomy student he dreamt of wanting to help the people that gave a self sufficient production from their own field after he completes his studies.
As the school was maintaining strict discipline so they took permission to watch a film in the cinema hall. That English film’s name was ‘gone with the wind.’ It is one of the best family films and is also international award winner. In that silver screen he saw nuns moving their hands and saying words in prayer. Being a person from other faith he thought that was how Christian prayer is like for it was the first time he saw it. In this institute someone presented him one religious book whose name will not be mentioned as it may hurt the follower of that religious group. As he was interested in religiosity he completed the whole book in a year in search of god’s love for him and also to find out the true religion that was fit for the tribal. Ironically he did not come across even one sentence that says god loved him and treated every human equally. While he was in the quest to investigate other religion to find out the answer of this question at his surprise his Jaintia friend Maylinggam presented him a Good News translation- Bible (if Maylingggam comes across this article he is kindly requested to contact 9402872857 as Longkhap Merang wishes to rekindle old memories). From that day the bible became his life and later on he became a bible translator of his tribe the- Tangsa Bible. Besides, in the library he used to read a Christian testimony from the newsletter ‘the soon.’ Those testimonies really inspired him a lot to realize that quest for the best faith.
In December 1969 his class XI final exam arrived, he had to fill up the form for the West Bengal board. While filling this up he came across a box to write the candidate’s religion. By looking at his puzzling face one of his tutors directed him to write that tutor’s religion. Ironically he requested the tutor to give him three days to fill that column. Meanwhile being a part of the curriculum time to time the institute showed them films in the evening on agricultural methods of USSR, Japan, and USA. He analyzed and found that the Russians employ machine producing good crop harvest, Japan used trace cultivation equipment that generates best grains but the Americans use advanced technology that is far better that those developed nations. In addition to that the work ethic of the Americans was completely far developed. Due to his love for advance technology and advance work mentality before the end of three days he wrote Christian in that form without becoming a Christian. When he was writing on a paper in his heart a voice said that as he wrote his religion as Christian he has to become one. Actually he wrote without knowing that one day he will become Christian. Later on it came true and he became a key pioneering leader of Christianity in NEFA. His name is attached in the church history of AP especially that connected him rightly to be named as a persecuted preacher.
On his way back to his native province he visited Shillong and at his surprise he met one of his old school friends of Calcutta who was employed at NEFA secretariat Shillong. Both hugged and embraced each other, that friend told him he was now Christian and gave him few gospel literatures. Gospel literatures that were sowed on him gradually grew into a big tree and he turned out to be a gospel writer and track distributor. After completing his official work at the secretariat he continued his journey towards NEFA. At his arrival at home he found that few of his relatives have become Christians as there were already few Christian there before he left for Calcutta. In his home in the evening time he read that literature with the aid of lantern since there was no electricity in those days. He came across that without Jesus we are nothing because everybody is a sinner. Every human needs His forgiveness. That night in a dream he saw an evil giant figure which told him to stop following Jesus otherwise he will be crucified like Jesus. He answered ‘you can do that.’ The deathly looked giant took his hands and legs and crucified him. He still remembers that dream till today. Akin to that dream later on he was put behind bars and constantly intimidated by the enemies of the gospel which lined with his testimony in the gallery of crucified man for God.
From Calcutta his Arunachalee friend sent him a letter he passed with 58% marks. With that inland letter he got admission in Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat for B. Sc in Agriculture. He chose this institute because it was the nearest college as it took less travel expenditure. Besides he could learn a few bible knowledge from the Eastern Theological College (ETC) that may assist the new Christians of his province to survive through the persecution as they were facing problem in those days. His desire to be the leader of those suffering believers came true when he became their towering spiritual figure and faced rejection among them. At the hostel the seniors from the states of Nagaland and Meghalaya asked him if he was Christian and he answered yes. That Sunday the senior took him to the Chapel service at ETC. There those seniors introduced him to Yomthem Lego studying in that college (Revd Lego was the first Arunachalee to obtain B.Th & B.D degrees and he became a translator of the bible into the Adi dialogue). Lego took him to his boys’ hostel room and he read Roman 6: 23 & John 3: 16 then both of them left to attend the chapel. While singing in the chapel he felt overflowing joy running out of his heart which he never encountered before at any gathering. From attending this first official worship service he was never absent from any Sunday church worship and soon became an authorized minister for the church ministries and instrumental in planting numbers of churches in the frontier state.
After returning to his hostel room he knelt down and prayed for the first time. He wrote in his diary ‘Jesus I will follow You.’ That prayer gradually formed into a prayer habit and it is still the channel for him to access the Source of strength for any necessity. He kept his self declaration promises and finally became one of His ardent followers. Through his witnessing gospel he led numbers of people to be the followers of Jesus Christ and whom the Holy Spirit drew nearer to God. He was baptized hundreds of people. As his money was running short in 1970 he wrote a letter to James Wangcha Lowanglet (former home minister, GoAP) who was doing B.A in Jawaharlal Nehru College Pasighat. After four months the reply was delivered to him. Wanglet replied that his father (the king of Borduria) did not send him money anymore. He was to manage by himself so he would not be able to send him any help. However, in his letter he quoted Matthew 4: 4 ‘man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God that proceed out from the mouth of God.’ As Wanglet rightly furnished the prophetic advice that same year in August 30th he was baptized at Tinsukia, Assam which was administered by the Evangelist Yeluvi Sema. Wanglet’s promised verse came true for him since from that year Revd Longkhap Merang Yonger Taungwa makes his livelihood through sharing the gospel to the hundreds.