Mizo Conference

By C. Lalhmangaizami

×

C. Lalhmangaizami

Mizo Conference was the first conference to be organized in the Southern Asia Division.

Constituent Organization and its Territories

Mizo Conference was organized 197 and reorganized 1993. It includes the Mizoram state and the Barak Valley in the state of Assam. Statistics, as of 2019: churches, 81; members, 22,446; general population, 1,231,617.1 Headquarters: Aizawl, Mizoram, India. Official Organ: Thuchah Puangtu.

Origin of Adventist Presence in Mizoram

The Adventist message entered Mizoram through Lallianzuala Sailo. In 1941, when in the ninth standard in Shillong, he started taking Bible studies from Pastor J. F. Ashlock. Zuala, as he was known, transferred to Assam Training School in Jowai, which had just been established, so he could keep the Sabbath and so he could learn how to take the message to his people.2 However, a serious illness soon threatened his life and necessitated an eight-month break from school. Relatives blamed his illness on his new-found faith and urged him to give it up. But Zuala recovered, returned for the close of the school year, and was baptized on November 28, 1941, by Pastor O. W. Lange.3 He attended a colporteur institute conducted by Elder Hoag three days before the vacation was to begin, and he went home as a literature evangelist, returning with several full-year subscriptions to the Oriental Watchman.4 He also felt the need to produce some literature in his own language.5

In 1942, with the help of missionaries, Zuala translated into Mizo a set of lessons from the Sabbath School quarterly entitled Kristian Thurinte (Christian Doctrines).6 Taking copies of Kristian Thurinte and the Assam Training School prospectus which he had also translated, Zuala returned to Mizoram for vacation in January 1943. His main objectives were to sell his book, Kristian Thurinte, and to recruit at least 15 Mizo students for Assam Training School.7 In just a week he sold 200 copies of the book. Seeing a remarkable change in the life of the young Zuala, parents of several students desired to send their children to Assam Training School (ATS). They had to be dissuaded as there was no room for so many. Eventually 25 accompanied Zuala to ATS. As a result of Bible classes conducted in the school, seven of these students were baptized in 1944.8 Through the ministry of Zuala and other colporteurs many in Mizoram were brought to the Adventist faith.9 Some became Adventists merely through reading the book Kristian Thurinte.10

Within a few years, the Seventh-day Adventist message spread to several parts of Mizoram. In 1944, to celebrate the entry of the first Christian missionary to Mizoram 50 years earlier, the government permitted Pastor O. W. Lange to enter Mizoram. He visited homes of students and conducted the first Sabbath School.11

World War II created many uncertainties for the future of the church, and so missionaries made a conscious effort to train local people to take over the work. Thus, in 1943, Lallianzuala and L. H. Paluaia were sent to Spicer College to study further.12 Zuala returned to join the staff of ATS in 1945,13 and he began translating Bible Readings for the Home,14 which he completed in 1946.15 That year Ronghilhlova and his wife Chalmawii began to observe the Sabbath, the first ones in Zokhawsang.16

Establishing the First Churches

In November 1946, Lallianzuala Sailo was appointed as the first teacher-evangelist in Mizoram.17 He began his work by visiting all the newly-converted Adventists living in different parts of Mizoram. With the rapid increase of membership, it became urgent to construct churches. Zairemthanga, in his history of Adventism, reports a list of the first Mizo churches. The first was at Zokhawsang village, constructed under the supervision of Lallianzuala Sailo. The second church building was erected at Khawchhete (renamed as Samtlang) village in the beginning of 1948; and the third was at Lungleng village at the close of 1948. The fourth was built at Khawrihnim village, and the fifth at Pukpui village in 1949. That was followed by the sixth at a neighboring village, Zotlang, in the southern part of Mizoram.18

The First Missionaries

The coming of foreign Adventist missionaries to Mizoram was an event of significant historical importance to Seventh-day Adventists in Mizoram. In 1947 the Langes and Hiscox visited Mizoram. They were received by Lallianzuala Sailo and accompanied by Thanzauva. In 1948 E. M. Meleen, O. A. Skau, J. F. Ashlock, and many others visited Mizoram.19

However, the real missionary work was started by W. G. Lowry and his family. While they were living in Washington D.C., U.S.A., they received a call in 1948 from the General Conference to be pioneer missionaries in the Lushai Hills, as Mizoram was referred to at that time.20 According to Darrikhuma, what they would do and how they would work would be determined as they became acquainted with the people.21 The Lowrys arrived in Calcutta in August 1949, after a long and difficult sea voyage. After a delay in Calcutta to obtain their entry permit to Mizoram from the government, the couple with 11-year-old Eric and nine-year-old Carolyn, arrived in Aizawl on December 13, 1949. Lallianzuala Sailo was on hand to welcome them.22

While the home for the new missionaries was being arranged, the Lowry family with all their belongings crowded into Lallianzuala’s small kitchen. The presence of the foreign missionary was indeed a great inspiration for the believers still new in the faith. Initially Lowry translated the Sabbath School lessons with the assistance of the locals, but soon, with study of the language under Pasena, an experienced language instructor from the Welsh Presbyterian Church, the family became fluent in Mizo.23

Lowry had imported evangelistic equipment including Elder Shular’s 20th Century Film Strips, a kerosene projector, an electric projector, a portable electric dynamo operated by a petrol engine, and a large screen. He also had a Review and Herald chart on cloth from about 1912-1914.24 As there were no roads for cars, Lowry travelled from village to village on foot, with porters to carry his clothes and food. As these villages were in the remote hills, it took several days to reach each one. Lowry was a diligent student of the Bible and gave a series of Bible studies in each village. The Mizos were inspired and impressed by his Bible knowledge and the church progressed rapidly. While Willis Lowry spent most of his time preaching the gospel, his wife Helen spent her time in teaching children and in the education of women.

Tripura Circle

The Adventist message entered the state of Tripura through the Voice of Prophecy.25 Thanghnuna and his family, Roman Catholics who lived in Lallinga Veng, on the bank of the Langkaih River, listened to the Voice of Prophecy (VOP) broadcast on Radio Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and learned that the seventh-day Sabbath is the true day of rest according to the Bible. By 1955 Thanghnuna had started observing the Sabbath.26

The Mizo Conference first sent Thangpuimanga to Tripura as an evangelist, but due to poor health he was transferred to Khawrihnim. During his brief stay in Tripura, he distributed Bible tracts and went about spreading the gospel from place to place. After that there were no mission workers in Tripura until 1957 when evangelist C. Saikhuma and his family moved to Lallinga Veng in Damchera Tripura. C. Saikhuma is often regarded as the first Adventist missionary to work in Tripura.27

Due to the shortage of workers, lay members have rallied together and sent out young men under the name of Danial Pawl Chhantu (Daniel’s Band) since 1959 to preach the Adventist message among those who have not yet heard it. Daniel’s Band evangelists cooperate with the organization to present the Adventist message to the inhabitants of Mizoram until the present day.28

In February 1960, Rokhuma was baptized and became one of the Adventist leaders in Tripura.29 In February 1962, after five years, C. Saikhuma and his family were transferred to Khawruhlian, and Tripura was once again left without a mission worker.

Twenty years later, in 1982, Peter Munga and P. C. Lalthanliana were transferred to Kanhmun, a village on the border of Tripura, and they often visited Tripura during their stay. Soon, a Bru Reang tribesman named Janoram, from the locality of Bishnuchuranpara (Kathiapara), was converted to the Adventist faith and was baptized on January10, 1983, by V. L. Sanglura. Since Peter Munga had left Kanhmun in 1989 to continue his studies at ATS, Jowai, P. C. Lalthanliana was left alone to continue the mission work. Soon after, he also left Kanhmun and there was no worker left to care for Tripura.30

On December 26, 1985, C. Lalbiakmawia entered Agartala, the capital of Tripura to resume literature evangelism. Calvin Joshua PDD of the union and R. K. Sangliana PDD of the Mizo Section accompanied him for a week.31 In 1992, the Global Mission Volunteers took the initiative and missionaries were sent to Tripura. Adventist Mission workers were posted in Kalagang and in Kheda and among the Bru Reang tribe. Later, Adventist Mission work was also started in the areas of Teliamura and Jampui. At Behliangchhip an Adventist congregation was started in 1992, which went on to become the first Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tripura.32

The evangelists used health ministry for entering new mission fields. They usually organized health camps with free steam baths which were followed by Bible study. Many people stopped smoking and drinking and started to question their beliefs. Prior to 1992, it appears that the Adventist Church did not have a formal mission policy towards Tripura due to the fact that available records of the Adventist mission effort in Tripura did not have any continuity and there were gaps of many years between the withdrawal of missionaries and the appointment of their successors.

Organizational History

Mizoram was part of the state of Assam when the Assam Section was organized in 1937 at the time the Northeast India was restored to union status. The Mizo area, however, was yet to be entered by Adventists. In 1971 the Northeast India Union was merged with the Northwest India Union into the large Northern Union. Since the government was at that time granting statehood to the various tribal groups of the state of Assam—Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, etc.—the Assam Section was renamed as the Northeast India Section.

By 1975 there were close to 2,000 members in Mizoram in 15 churches and with 26 full-time workers. The Northern Union recommended that a Mizo Section be formed that would also include Tirpura and Kachar. One of the reasons cited was the distance, and therefore the time and expense, for travel from Shillong.33 The Mizo Section was created in 1976 with the following leaders: president, L. Hmingliana; secretary, V. L. Rawna; and treasurer, B. Rimsu.34

On December 31, 1992, the division committee resolved to reorganize the Mizo Section into a conference and arranged for the constituency to convene February 25-28, 1993. On February 24, 1993, the first constituency meeting of the Mizo Conference was held at the Seventh-day Adventist Tlang Church, Aizawl, and was inaugurated by Robert S. Folkenberg, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.35

During the post-reorganization period (1993-2017), there was a much greater growth as compared to the earlier period. The main reason for the rapid growth was the increase of workers in this conference, evangelism conducted by lay members, mission schools, and church school evangelism, Voice of Prophecy (VOP) study and rallies, revival meetings conducted by the churches, and the evangelistic meetings organized by Daniel’s Band (Danial Pawl Chhantu)36 evangelists in different parts of Mizoram. Each year, Daniel’s Band conducts regular meetings, one in North Mizoram and another in South Mizoram.

Institutions

The following institutions are operated in the Mizo Conference.

Educational Institutions: Helen Lowry Higher Secondary School (Aizawl, India); Southern Flower School (Lunglei, India); Pine Hill Adventist Academy (Champhai, India); Graceland Adventist School (Saitual, India); Bloom Adventist School (Tripura, India).

Medical Institution: Aizawl Adventist Hospital (Aizawl, India).

Publishing House: Remnant Press (Aizawl, India).

Conference Presidents

L. Hmingliana (1976-1983); C. Hmingliana (1984-1991); Lalchansanga Colney (1992-1996); Zohruaia Renthlei (1996-1999); L. K. Hluna (1999-2002); H. Zairemthanga (2002-2009); R. Biakthansanga (2009-present).37

Sources

Challiandinga. “Tripura Ramah Adventist an Luh Dan” (“The Entrance of Seventh-day Adventists in Tripura”). Thuchah Puangtu, vol. 2, no. 10, October 2011.

Dahlsten, N. O. “Biennial Report of the Assam Mission.” Eastern Tidings, April 1, 1952.

Dahlsten, N. O. “Trekking in the Lushai Hills.” Eastern Tidings, December 15, 1951.

Darrikhuma, “Origin of Adventism in Mizoram.” Washington D.C.: A Guided Research Paper for the degree of Master of Divinity, 1969.

Fernando, R. S. “Assam.” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1944.

“Gleanings.” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1945.

Hoag, G. B. “The Royal Colporteur Club.” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1945.

John, S. “Northeast India Branch Book Depot.” Eastern Tidings, December 15, 1946.

Kapzauva, Hauzel. “A Historical Study of Helen Lowry School.” Aizawl: Unpublished M.A Project, 1995.

Lalkamlova, S. History of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mizoram. Aizawl: Exercise Book Making Industry cum Printing Press, 1988.

Lallianzuala, Sailo. “The Beginning of the Work in the Lushai Hills.” Eastern Tidings, (Northeast India Union Special Supplement), December 1946.

Lange, O. W. “News Notes from the Khasi Hills.” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1942.

Lange, O. W. “The Assam Training School.” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1942.

Loasby, F. H. “With Our Schools During Difficult Days.” Eastern Tidings, December 1, 1943.

Lowry, W. G. “Listening Post from Lushai Hills.” North Pacific Union Gleaner. September 9, 1957.

Meleen, E. M. “More Prospecting in the Lushai Hills.” Part 1, Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1950,

Meleen, E. M. “More Prospecting in the Lushai Hills.” Part 2, Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1950.

Minutes of the First Constituency Meetings of Mizo Conference of SDA, Seventh-day Tlang, Aizawl Mizoram, February 1993.

Mookerjee, L. G. “Assam.” Eastern Tidings, August 1, 1944.

“Northeast India Section Reorganization,” Northern Union Committee Minutes, May 11, 1975.

“President’s Report.” Minutes of Assam Section Constituency Meetings February 4-8, 1969.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks, various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Thanga, K. C. Mizoram Seventh-day Adventist Kohhran Chanchin. Aizawl: Gospel Publishing Centre, 1996.

Zairemthanga, H. Seventh-day Adventist Kohhran Din Tan Dan. Aizawl: Mizo Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2004.

Notes

  1. “Mizo Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, accessed September 14, 2020, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=13217.

  2. O. W. Lange, “News Notes from the Khasi Hills,” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1942, 2-3.

  3. Lallianzuala Sailo, “The Beginning of the Work in the Lushai Hills,” Eastern Tidings (Northeast India Union Special Supplement), December 1946, 2.

  4. O. W. Lange, “The Assam Training School,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1942, 4.

  5. Lallianzuala Sailo, Handwritten manuscript, (unpublished, 1992) 26.

  6. F. H. Loasby, “With Our Schools During Difficult Days,” Eastern Tidings, December 1, 1943, 3. The second edition of Christian Doctrine was printed on January 15, 1946. The third edition was printed on October 1, 1946.

  7. Sailo, 32-33.

  8. Sailo, “The Beginning of the Work in the Lushai Hills,” 3.

  9. W. G. Lowry, “Listening Post from Lushai Hills, North Pacific Union Gleaner,” September 9, 1957, 1-2.

  10. K. C. Thanga, Mizoram Seventh-day Adventist Kohhran Chanchin, (Aizawl: Gospel Publishing Centre, 1996), 1

  11. R. S. Fernando, “Assam,” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1944, 6.

  12. L. G. Mookerjee, “Assam,” Eastern Tidings, August 1, 1944, 2.

  13. G. B. Hoag reporting on “the Royal Colporteur Club,” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1945, 4, refers to Lallianzuala as the staff advisor at ATS. The 1946 SDA Yearbook lists him as on the staff of Assam Training School.

  14. “Gleanings,” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1945, 8

  15. S. John, “Northeast India Branch Book Depot,” Eastern Tidings, December 15, 1946, 3.

  16. H. Zairemthanga, Seventh-day Adventist Kohhran Din Tan Dan (Aizawl: Mizo Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2004), 254-255.

  17. The 1947 Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 182, lists him as a teacher-evangelist.

  18. Zairemthanga, 259-262; Thanga, 14. Pukpui received much publicity due to the presence of Meleen as the “first church in the Lushai Hills” established “less than two years ago.” N. O. Dahlsten, “Biennial Report of the Assam Mission,” Eastern Tidings, April 1, 1952, 5. See also E. M. Meleen, “More Prospecting in the Lushai Hills,” Part 1, Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1950, 2-3; Part 2, Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1950, 2; N. O. Dahlsten, “Trekking in the Lushai Hills,” Eastern Tidings, December 15, 1951, 6.

  19. K. C. Thanga, op. cit., 21.

  20. “President’s Report,” Minutes of Assam Section Constituency Meetings, February 4-8, 1969, (hereafter President’s Report), 2.

  21. Darrikhuma, “Origin of Adventism in Mizoram” (Washington D.C.: A guided Research Paper for the degree of Master of Divinity, 1969), 65-66.

  22. Kapzauva Hauzel, “A Historical Study of Helen Lowry School” (Aizawl: Unpublished M.A. Project, 1995), 36.

  23. President’s Report, 1969, 2-3.

  24. S. Lalkamlova, History of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mizoram (Aizawl: Exercise Book Making Industry cum Printing Press, 1988), 40.

  25. Voice of Prophecy is a series of Bible lessons which is commonly used by Seventh-day Adventists in order to study the Bible with non-Adventist people.

  26. Rokhuma, op. cit.

  27. Ibid.

  28. President’s Report, The Assam Section Constituency Meetings, February 4-8, 1969, 2-3.

  29. Ibid.

  30. Challiandinga, “Tripura Ramah Adventist an Luh Dan (The Entrance of Seventh-day Adventists in Tripura),” ThuchahPuangtu, vol. 2, no. 10, October 2011, 26.

  31. C. Lalbiakmawia, interview by the author, November 12, 2014

  32. Challiandinga, op. cit.

  33. “Northeast India Section Reorganization,” Northern Union Committee Minutes, May 11, 1975, #75-263, 51, 52. See also SUDAC Minutes 75-528, 121.

  34. Ibid., 200.

  35. Minutes of the First Constituency Meetings of Mizo Conference of SDA, February 24-28, 1993, Seventh-day Tlang, Aizawl Mizoram.

  36. Danial Pawl Chhantu (Daniel’s Band) is an important band for the gospel work among the Seventh-day Adventists. It was formed in 1959 during a general meeting held at Pukpui Village, Lunglei. This organization works within the working policy of the division. The church members pay their salaries.

  37. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1976-2020), https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

×

Lalhmangaizami, C. "Mizo Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GAL1.

Lalhmangaizami, C. "Mizo Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GAL1.

Lalhmangaizami, C. (2021, April 28). Mizo Conference. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GAL1.