The Garos recognized Omed W. Momin (1867-1902) and Ramke W. Momin (1867-1891) as the first pioneering missionaries. After the first inception of Christianity, the missions of the Church were started to spread out the Good News. As they converted to Christianity, many of them devoted their lives to go and to tell the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Being the first place of Christianity, the Rajasimla Baptist Church joyfully attempted and led the people as role models in their mission. Those times, those who went out for evangelism faced countless threats, persecutions and rose again in position but they endured and remained faithful. The effects of remaining faithfulness and sacrifices are chronologically still alive and set aflame before us. The Bible says, “…Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23)! Some people like Bago D. Marak choose to dedicate their whole lives to their mission.
Life Sketch and Evangelism of Bago D. Marak
Bago D. Marak was born in 1842 at a small village called Dambora Songmegap near Watrepara. As he grew older, he married a woman named Kongjim S. Momin from Rangsa Asim village. There, he was appointed as a headman and served as a high priest until he converted to Christianity in 1868. During those times, Bago D. Marak was the very rich and the wealthiest person in the village. He lived fine-tuned and followed a traditional way of Garo life. Under his guidance, the villagers also observed several ceremonies like festivals, rites and rituals, drinks, feasting, and merrymaking.
Frequently, Bago D. Marak and some fellow villagers came to Rangjuli for a weekly market. On one Sunday while passing by, Bago D. Marak felt and was interested in Garo Christians’ worship at Rajasimla. He stopped for a while and quietly listened to their songs that were sung in worship. With much deepening in his heart, he asked one man to enter it and sat in one of the corners inside the church.
On 26 January 1868, Rev. Thomas J. Keith visited Rajasimla and found 22 people who willingly accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and came forward for baptism. With gladness, Rev. Keith gave them baptism in the Rongdal stream. That very day, Bago D. Marak came down to Rangjuli market again. By seeing him at the bank of the river, one man said to Rev. Keith that he wanted to take Christian religion and took baptism. Right away, Rev. Keith invited him to the river and gave him baptism by saying in Assamese:
“Bhai, ami tumar bikoi hunia mone bor rong bai song, tumi etiarpora Soi tanor marka mara tumar muror ronga paguri, aru Diabolor bandha tumar hator katkora, etti begai kohai pelaba aru hongkale Jisur pohorot ahi poritram lobhi” (“Brother, on hearing about you, I am very happy. You carry the signs of Satan on your forehead covered with red turban and devils’ thread on your hand, where can you throw it away fast and quickly come to the light of Jesus and get saved.)“1
He became one of the most committed and converted Christians that he sacrificed his entire life. His evangelical works vastly molded the entire neighboring villages and became the first evangelist among the Garos. In his earliest missionary journeys, he also obtained a little amount of ₹1.80/- per month, but he spiritually added a lot and spread the Good News. Throughout his life, he humbly worked hard and harvested many faithful fruits which were added to Christianity in Rajasimla. Along with him, Chakkin Momin, a teacher also sincerely worked and accompanied him.
The Conversion of the People
It was said that Rajasimla Church and its neighboring villages were full of joy and happiness because many people were engaged in the mission and telling others to embrace Christianity. Throughout the year, the believers’ mission works became potentially esteemed and imparted to many people.
Most of the believers went to different places, near and far of Garo Hills and beyond. Missionaries like Rangku W. Momin to Baghmara of South Garo Hills (1867) a teacher; Rangsong to Syamnagar of West Garo Hills; Maljang Momin to Dilma; Torakchon, Apinda, and Dinonath were to Dafla tribes; Tilokchon, as a compounder to Kangpokpi Christian Hospital (KCH) in Manipur where he worked and shared the Gospel to the people;2 Silding Sangma, Dingmin Momin, and Changman Marak went to Arunachal Pradesh and North Darang District where Boro-Kachari people were settled.3 It was because of the spiritual labor by the first converts. Though Rajasimla was a small village in one of the corners of Garo Hills, it brought many believers into Christianity and uprooted spiritual leadership for God’s mission.4
Bago D. Marak and Chakkin Momin were good preachers and they preached the gospel of Christ where many people turned to Christianity and took baptism. Those preachers preached the love of God not only in the nearby areas of Rajasimla village, but they went to Rangga, Dambora, Rangket (at present Dilkang), Matchokgre, Badaka, Tokkol, Wakguram, Rongchri, and many others. Their sowing the seeds in those remote areas were planted successfully where they brought many converts and gave them baptism.5
Mission in 20th Century
From 1867 onward till the American missionaries left India, the Garo churches sent out missionaries to every corner of the Garo Hills. The number of churches has increased and spread the proclamation of Jesus Christ to unreached people. But in the midst of this expansion, the mission works became static till the middle of the 20th century. Similarly, the mission activities of Rajasimla Church have also become fully downward. Sadly, it was very far from the mission mandate and drowned in the stagnant situation. Though the initial stages of the mission movements went vast and expanded, it became unseen and has been segregated.
It was in the month of February 1993 that Garo Baptist Churches celebrated the 125th Quasqui-centennial Jubilee that was held at Rajasimla. Thousands of people were gathered and immensely touched by the Gospel of Jesus. Eventually, it led the Garo people to the past that happened during the times of their ancestors. A wave of missions has restarted and now became active. This has proved that the Garo churches were challenged by God’s word especially because it attracted the people. As the mission works turned into active, the Shillong Baptist Centre coordinated a Mission Awareness Program in 2004 at Rajasimla and gave more spiritual burning to all the believers. They also contributed a sum of money ₹400/- one-month salary for mission work and urged the Rajasimla Church to restart God’s mission.
Church’s Response Towards God’s Mission
The intent is to contribute to God’s kingdom by helping people that all may have eternal joy through Christ’s redemption. At present, the mission department is giving more attention to the backslidden Christians and non-Christians as well. The church has adopted several fields and placed the missionaries. They are as follows:
(A) Home Mission: Among the Garos
In 2004, the mission department decided to work with other faiths and appointed Mr. Padam Bahadur as a missionary. He worked among the Nepali communities and Hindi-speaking people for about six years. Some people were influenced and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. One after the other, they took baptism and were added to the nearby churches. After his retirement, the church also appointed Mr. Crysper A. Sangma, a new evangelist, and sent him to Bilarpara6 market area, under Adokgre Baptist Church, North Garo Hills.
In addition to God’s calling, the Union Garo Baptist Association (UGBA–Pilangkhata, under Kamrup District of Assam) has requested the Rajasimla Baptist Church to send an evangelist. This has made into another movement and the Church responded positively. Both partners shared their views during the table meeting and found that Garo people living there are backsliding, some are going after the Songsareks, while others are actively participating in Hindu religion and so on. The meeting ended with an earnest resolution and both parties have decided to sign a partnership MOU.
In the month of August 2014, a few members of the mission committee went to Amper village (under UGBA) and collectively made the first survey. The report was placed in the executive meeting and with prompt action, the church sent Mr. Crysper A. Sangma to Amper village on April 4, 2015. Within the year, few people who lost their paths have come back to Christ and got baptized, some of them repent their sins and ask God for forgiveness. People who lived in broken relationships now came to Christ. It also helped them to abide by God’s commandments and follow Christ’s footsteps.
As of now, he gave baptism to ninety people, three local churches were established as full-pledged churches and more than forty plus unregistered couples were registered. People are coming closer to God from far and near. It is all because of an evangelist who tirelessly works and impacts the community. He covered different mission fields and worked among the indigenous Garo people namely–Bilarpara, Rongchri, Uguri, Rangga, Rangsa Sister Churches, Nojama nearby Rangga village, Amper, and Maikuli under UGBA.7
(B) Home Mission: Cross-cultural
One day a Muslim man came to the Lord and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. He came to Christ through his wife and took baptism at Rajasimla. The entire family has found Christ and the father committed his life for a mission. To be sure, that man was interested in the mission, and instantly with the Great Commission, the church charged him as a part-time missionary to work among the Assamese, Bengalis, Biharis, Hindi speaking people, etc. In 2009, the church sent him to work among the local people under Goalpara District, Assam. He got a lump-sum monthly salary of ₹800/-pm from Goraimari Sister Church. He also worked there for almost two years and brought some people into baptism.
In the next year, the church has sent him to Upper Assam to work among the Muslim people. During this period of time, he focused mainly on his own community. He ventured into the fields and as he started to work, he confronted several oppositions, sometimes chased out by the villagers and threats to death but his continuous efforts made some gain. Sooner or later, he brought forward some believers and they got baptized. He worked with his own people for more than two years, but due to the serious strikes against him, the church has changed its field to the Assam-Meghalaya border. Right away, he went door to door inside the village and shared the gospel. Within a few months, he convinced some of the people into conversion and the church gave them baptism.8
(C) Frontier Mission: Outreach
Frontier Mission shows an attempt to send cross-cultural witnesses where people are still in darkness and waiting for the proclamation of Good News of Jesus Christ. As Dr. Ralph Winter rightly pointed out these people as “hidden peoples”. He also used this term as culturally and linguistically very rare that they couldn’t express themselves of their eternal faith. Such people and places are beyond access to the gospel. They might be in a remote village, long-distant island, or a major metropolitan center.
The Rajasimla Baptist Church also decided to adopt one new Frontier Mission Field. This became active on April 1, 2018, right after The Grand Celebration of the 150th Sesquicentennial Jubilee at Rajasimla. As the church committed to God’s calling, the ministry has developed by appointing one missionary to Nepal who is going around with the gospel in the regions where no one has ever heard it. With much passion, his ministry is reaching out to the places where the church does not yet exist. He takes hold of the Great Commission that Jesus called the church to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20) to those who do not yet know Him and witness to his own people and beyond. That missionary rightly said: “God’s mission is our mission”.
Fund Resources for Mission
One of the most significant challenges that the believers influenced was Kongjim S. Momin, wife of Bago D. Marak who sincerely made an effort to give “Merong Jakkep”, or “A Handful of Rice” to the poor and needy ones. It was in the year 1878 that she started to keep this handful of rice.9 There are some women like Wa·re W. Momin, Neno Momin, Godile Momin, Salje, and others who also jubilantly joined and supported her charitable ministry.
The church has decided to continue this charity as a mission and to keep this ‘handful of rice’ for mission works. The womenfolk are collecting this handful of rice every Sunday morning of the week. On the next day (Monday morning), they sell these collected handfuls of rice and hand over total incomes for the mission. Till now, every baptized woman is maintaining this act as mission funds, paying monthly support to all the missionaries, using these funds for mission works and activities, etc. Not only that, there are people who are generously giving the sum of free-will donations, organizing the Mission Saturday Prayers and Sunday Mission Prayer Day, etc. These acts of helpful hands paved the patterns of people’s giving as the church focused on the Bible passage, “Let us not become weary in doing well, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).10
The Rajasimla Baptist Church is also reflecting the nature of His call that was given. This reflection also helped the church members to discover the diversifying into lovely pictures of oneness and maturity. As Ephesians 4:13 says, “until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” Therefore, let us embrace God’s calling, unite our hearts together, and invite our co-members to greater impact and love for the people who are still waiting for the Good News.
Mission Committee In charges
- Lt. Jembushclean R. Marak, Asst. Pastor (2004-2005)
- Rev. Jaseng D. Marak, Pastor (2006-2009)
- Mr. Relian S. Momin, Asst. Pastor (2010-2011)
- Rev. Jaseng D. Marak, Pastor (2012-2013)
- Mr. Jamesh D. Marak, Asst. Pastor (2014)
- Rev. Jaseng D. Marak, Pastor (2015)–in the absence of Mr. Jamesh D. Marak, Asst. Pastor as he was deputed and sponsored by GBC as Chaplain to DACF, Delhi.
- Mr. Jamesh D. Marak, Asst. Pastor (2016-February, 2018)
- Rev. Jaseng D. Marak, Pastor (2018 till date)
First Mission Committee Members were (2004-2005)
- Mr. Billard M. Marak, Convener
- Lt. Jembushclean R. Marak, Asst. Pastor, Mission I/c.
- Mr. Lenthingson M. Sangma, Deacon, member
- Mr. Jestwiller M. Sangma, Deacon, member
- Mr. Drenindra R. Marak, Deacon, member
- Mrs. Probaline D. Marak, Women Leader, member
- Ms. Anandabally S. Momin, Youth Secretary, member
- Rev. J.D. Marak, Pastor, ex-officio member
- Rehunath K. Momin, comp., History of Rajasimla Baptist Church, edited by Jamesh D. Marak (Rajasimla: n.p., 2012), p55.
- Rehunath K. Momin, comp., History of Rajasimla Baptist Church, p35.
- K.C. Marak, “A brief Mission Background of the Garo Baptist Convention”, in A Paper Presentation in Harding Theological College, Tura, Alumni Meet 2013, on 23-04-2013.
- Interview with Lempillar D. Marak, Youth Director of Rajasimla Baptist Church, 28 May 2013.
- Interview with Drenindra R. Marak, Deacon of Rajasimla Baptist Church, 8 May 2013.
- The Rajasimla Church has decided to adopt a new field and shifted to Guwahati. Later on, this Bilarpara field was handed over to A·dokgre Baptist Church on March 19, 2013.
- Reports have sent by Mr. Crysper A. Sangma to the Pastor of Rajasimla Baptist Church within mid-quarterly.
- Interview with Jaseng D. Marak, Reverend, and the Pastor of Rajasimla Baptist Church, 20 May 2013.
- Rehunath K. Momin, comp., History of Rajasimla Church, p51-52.
- Interview with Trejinda D. Marak, Deaconess of Rajasimla Baptist Church, 19 May 2013.