By: Saya T.Kui Lone
Introduction: I will try to focus on the cross-cultural Matu Christian history and social transformation due to progress in missionary work. Without understanding the history and culture of their people, our missionary work can be failed. At the same time, the Matu concept of God and the cross-cultural process in Matu Christian history can not be ignored.
I also mentioned pros and cons of Revivalism “Hlimsang” and its effects on Matu Christianity. The missionary moment is a major factor in bringing bout that cultural and demographic transformation of Christianity which was its leading characteristic in the 21st century.
1. The Birth of Matu tribes
The Matu Chin tribe is one of the biggest tribes among the Kuki-Chin. From the very beginning all the chins including Mizo, Zomi, Naga, Laimi, and Asho had lived an hill sides or riverbanks, constituting villages on groups. Among the villages, Matupi (Formerly Known as Ngala village) was the biggest and most populous. The British Gazette mentioned that there were over one thousand and houses including paddy barns in the village Matupi. Hakha book records that during those days “Matupi” was the biggest and most populous village in the Chin Hills.
1.1 Madupi or Matupi
Matupi town was formerly known as Batupui and it was a combination of Batu, which is a tribal name, and “Pui” means “Great”. Thus later, Batupui meaning “Batu the great,” was called “Matupi” though its surrounding villages are still called Batupi. Among the Matu tribes the LUN HANG Ethnic groups, which includes Batu, Thaiphum, and Lungngo. Lungngo was the most populous. Thus, the history of the Matu tribes is based upon there three groups.
A man, called Lung Hang, came from the northern Chin Hills and arrived at Maihal mountain and settled there. His sons were Batu the eldest, Lungngo the second and Thaiphum the youngest. After they had settled down for some years, his sons became grown up and all got married. On the day of dividing the inheritance he tested his sons’ abilities making them trend a bow and send an arrows at the Cang Bung Kung (Banyan tree). Only after that they would receive theirs inheritance and be allowed to found village and go in search green pastures.
The youngest son, Thaiphum shot at the lower part of the tree and was provided his inheritance, and he chose to settle in Lunghang village where fertile land was. The eldest son, Batu shot at the middle part of the tree, and the second son, Lungngo Shot at the upper part. They were then provided their inheritance and there they were founding a village for 500 years ago. This village was named Hakha from a northern Chin Lunghang village. The Maihel Mountain is situated between Hung lei village in the present Zothung land and Maiphum villages in the Matu Land. The evidence of the original Lunghang village was found in the ownership of land by the tree planted.Three sons were born to him namely, Batu, Lungngo and Theiphum. They made the choice to settle wherever they wanted to live.
Batu, the first son, went to the southern part and settle at a place called Padaep in Nga leng village. After sometime they moved to the present Matupi or Batupui, Batu ( Ngla) village which gradually grew in numbers and become a big village. That is a why Batu village is called Batupui or Matupi. The second son, Lungngo went to the eastward and settled there founding a village, which he named after himself. This village is located in the present Zotung land. Henceforth the clan came to be known as Lung Ngo Ting Paw. In 1922 the British arrived at the southern Chin; the called Batupui, and according to geographical maps they mentioned Batupui or Matupi. When Matupui became the biggest village in Matu Land, the British Navy arrived at Matupi in 1922, and settled there for some seasons, after the independence of Burma (1948) Matupi became a big township in the southern Chin Hills (now Chin State).
2. Social Systems of Matu People
The southern Chins, Matus differ from the northern Chins in that of various linguistic, geographic, and named tribal entities are linked together in far more widely ramifying, ever expanding, and networks of formal alliance institutions with specialized political offices. In the Matu land (southern Chin Hills) hostile relationships tend to extend far more widely then affined net works, although this hostility has certain positive economic aspects. There seems to be elements of an over-all system in which each tribal groups takes its place. The system appears to be founded mainly upon the dependency of the southern Chin Hills on trade with its civilized neighbors in Burma and Arakan. More over, the relatively closed character of the southern Chin (Matu people) systems of segmental lineages and affined alliances, which will be examined below, is connected which the hostile relations between different tribal units and is consequent upon the system of trade.
To show how such a system of inter tribal and inter group relationship works we can take a sample cross section, starting in the east with a group bordering directly upon Burma proper and proceeding into the interior along one or more lines of trades. Such presentation can not pretend to deal with the entire southern Chin (Matu), nor even with all such systems of trade, for there are several systems, which differ as they start from several different points of contact between civilization and the southern Chin Hills. This analysis of the over-all southern chins tribal system it is necessary to state that the lists of the southern chin peoples found in the early administration reports, in the linguistic survey of India, and in the several decennial issues of the census of India.
3. Culture of Matu People
There are so many interesting in view of the great cultural, social, and linguistic differences between the Matu people, as southern Chin, and as northern Chin. The people of Matu, comprising Matupi (formerly the largest Chin Hills village) and a number of villages in the north, west, and south, do not all claim a single origin, but there is a fair degree of linguistic unity among them. Matu is characterized by remoteness and systemic marginality and for these reasons is poorer than any other chin group mentioned here. Trade filters in uncertainly from several directions, and one striking consequence of this in the social organization is the absence of any traditional bride-wealth payments.
Matu culture bears the marks of a society that has been literally pushed from all sides into culture. The term Matu is at present used by the people of Matupi themselves, in the form of Badu, not they insist that it is only a word of their own. There are reasons for supposing that it is actually a term originating outside the area.
3.1. Language of Matu Tribe
The people of Matupi village call themselves Ngala and they speak of their language as Nga-La-ol and of their territory Nga-La-baen. This state of affairs should be contrasted with that of among the northern Chin. The undeveloped state of southern political organization traditionally made travel between areas hazardous and difficult, consequently it was rare for any group of people not bordering upon Myanmar to have any direct access to Burmese markets. They had to depend upon what was handed over from one village and from one region, to the next.
4. The Beginning of missionary Work in Matu land
The people of Matu, as we have already known from our general introduction, entered the Matu region sometime around the middle 13th century. Each Matu village has been maintaining its own village chieftainship for local administrative purpose. In those days Matu were considered as ‘savages” due to their valiant head hunting practices. They fought among themselves and often made raids on the non-Matu regions. Their endless
attacks on those people at last brought an end to their own respective cheftainships and led Matu region to be under the British rule. At the same time this British rule was the
means of changing the traditional religion of the Matus into Christianity. However, traditional religion was not totally eliminated even after the people became Christians.
These practices are still having some impact on their Christian life in one way or the other. However, let us see how the Matu accepted the new religion even though they had their own religious beliefs and practices.
4.1. That Dun’s arrival to Matu land
Rev. That Dun already heard about fore evangelists Dr. Cope and Col-Burne that there would be many difficulties for him to be and evangelists in Matu land. But That Dun decided to go as an evangelist for Matu people and he started his journey to Matu land in April 1944. He reached Ngaleng village on May 12th 1944, which was 12 miles away from Matupi. When that Dun arrived at Ngaleng village, he was suspected as to be spy of Japan army and a chief U Ta Khawt caught him and handed him over to the army of Lotaw, who later tortured him.
That Dun was starred to the point of death without water and food. at the mountain Awtaraw high 8000 feet’s, the leader of Ngaleng village, Levi army, wanted to shoot him. But That Dun pleaded to be spared to read the Bible. He opened the Bible saying let the Bible was to be covered of my death, which made the heart of Ta Khawt was frightened to shoot him as the Holy spirit was guiding That Dun. When they reached to Lotaw village the army got angry for bringing That Dun to the village as a captive. The army opened the way of “That Dun” to preach the gospel After he returned from Lotaw to Ngaleng village when where he preached the villages . The village chief lost his authority.
That Dun was warned to stop preaching because people feared that epidemic disease was affecting the village because of him. However That Dun continued to preach the gospel among the village even if he had evidence one or two. The Christian converts were stepped from worshipping God. That Dun continued to preach the gospel through to Batu village, which was as big village in Chin Hills. He bore the persecution very patiently and secedes. Though he had many problems, he stood for the sake of Christ throughout his life. Saya Pa Hrek, who came together with That Dun was turned back to his native because of his health. But That Dun did not turn back with a job unfinished. Through his preaching day by day the number of Christian increased. After this he decided to settle down to Matupi to evangelize then in 1950. He lived in Longvan Baptist Church.
He lived among Matu peoples and he was called by heavenly Father with the name of missionary for the Matu on December 25, 1967. He scarified whole life for Matu peoples and his buried in Matu land. In (1944-1994), his golden jubilee was celebrated in Matupi. He established a church committee in 1955-1966, for Matu Baptist Association he organized women fellowship, Youth fellowship and men fellowship. Due to hard labor and commitment of That Dun, the gospel was brought to the Matu and enlightened the Matu people to believe the creator. He is remembered by Matus, as he was the founder of the Matu Christianity.
In spite pf great difficulties, these efforts were blessed by God, and numbers of believers were increasing in Matu land. Hence, the birth of Christianity in Matu land depended upon the introduction of good news by Rev. That Dun. Rev. That Dun Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1994. This lovely story initiated the beginning of Christianity among the Matu tribal groups and also prepared the seat for the lovable union Theological School, Which was opened in June 1, 1984 at Sanbong Quarter, Matupi Township. She will produce many evangelists, missionaries, pastors, and others ministers for the Lord from the Matu people, The lights of the righteous way will be shown to the next generation through these people. Nowadays, every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows ( James 1: 17).
5. The Present Situation of Matu Baptist Movement
Before the coming of missionaries the Matu people adhered to their indigenous religion, but in during the second world war Christianity was introduced to the Matu people from Americans via the northern Chin Hills. Today the majority of population is Christian. As we have already mentioned in chapter Two, the advent and influence of British rulers and Christian missionaries has taken over the Matu religion and culture. What the missionary gave to the Matu people is western Christianity. There fore we will try to understand God in Matu traditional religion as a means of constructing a theology based on a radically monotheistic understanding of God which will reaffirm, reinterpret, and redirect church traditions and help solve the problems caused by theological confusion and conflicts in that particular cortex. We will conclude with the challenge to the western theological context and its application in the development of genuine Matu Christianity.
5.1. The Role of the Diviner in Matu Land
In the Matu animism, the diviner played an import role in the community in the spiritual affair. The evil spirit in Matu animism seems to have manifested itself in a self-conflicting manner in the life of the diviner. For the evil spirit caused misfortunes, diseases, pain and death on the one hand, and on the other, the same spirit manifested itself through a diviner as liberator. At this point, the Jesus also believed that only Beelzebul, the ruler of the evil spirit, could cast out the evil spirit, and so they accused Jesus as Beelzebul. But Jesus explained, “It Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself, how then will his kingdom stand. But if it is by the spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. “Matt 12:24-30)”. So what is explained here is the reality that the true freedom comes only from the spirit of God.
Traditionally, the Matus believed not only in the existence of the evil spirit such as “Rai” but also in the existence of God, the creator “Kho”. To discuss the role of the diviner in the Matu community, it was seen that the diviner was the sole spiritual communicator between the evil spirit and the men who were inflicted by those spirits. In a way, the role of a diviner in the Matu animism was synonymous in form to the role of Christ in Christianity who was and is the sole mediator between God and men, although their roles served for different purposes. Christ is the antiâ€”spirit who never interned to sacristy the desires of the spirit nor is the one when ever committed in their will.
The diviners were in the opposite direction. They were considered to have the ear of the spirits and to foretell events either bad or good. They were summoned in illness to prophesy whiter the patient would live or die. They could also other what propitiation would be favorable to the spirit, what animals should be killed and even offences that have been committed. Through the aids of the diviner sometimes, Patients got televised, at least for temporary, from their infliction. The question here is, did the evil spirits practice self-exorcism? It not, how could the diviner exorcise the spirits by the power of the same spirit?
Is the kingdom of the evil spirits divided? This complexity explains rather the mysterious nature not only of the functions of the evil spirtis but also of the power of nature that is impinged upon the human life. The animistic Matu people believed in many spirits embodying in the trees, the forest, the rocks, the fountains, the winds, the fields, the erupts, the rains, the clouds, the winds, the fire and so forth. In other words, the Matu peoples, before they accepted the Christianity, did not merely believe in the existence of these there are many) spirit, but feared of their destructive and possessive powers. So when the missionaries saw how the Matu peoples suffered from such fears of being inflicted by the spirits, and how they store for clear from such infliction, they made it a starting point where the Gospel of Christ was to be carried out aggressively.
Hence, the cultural exorcism practiced among the spiritâ€”inflicted seem by the missionaries, clearly as the glorious works of God, while such a work was considered by the indigenous Christians to day as gloom and doom to their cultural existence.
The Impact of Christianity was not only confined within the spiritual and cultural contexts of the Chin people. It manifested itself as a unity force for different Chin communities who had been deeply divided and antagonistic to one another due to differences in traditional clan systems and isolated from one another by geographical barriers. With their conversion to Christianity, the notion of acceptance replaced their traditional mindset of exclusionism, and Christian Chins embraced one another as members of a community of faith in Christ.
5.2. Missionary Works in the Matupi Area
Until 1948 Matupi area had been put under the jurisdiction of the Hakha subdivision. Although under one sub-division there was too much difficulties in communication and therefore intercourse between these two areas was few in deed. They were far apart in their thinking. During this time a Surkhua, Hakha sub-division, Lian Kar and his grandson an Aibur villager of Thangtlang area, Sa Khawng went to Matupi and worked as school teachers. In 1953 Missionary Strait called Za Ling who had hitherto worked as evangelist to Senthang and Zotung area, and sent him to preach the gospel to the Matupi area. During this time Saya Sa Khawng and Saya Lian Kar saw the necessity of having full-time workers in Matupi area.
Whenever a convention was held in the northern Chin Hills a constant theme was who will go to Matupi and work there? At the convention meeting at Vanzang, Thantlang Township in 1944, That Dun heard the call for worker in Matupi area and he consecrated his life to this task. The following were the persons who worked in the Matupi area.
5.3. The Rev. Paham That Dun
Rev. Paham That Dun ws the second eldest son among the 5children of Pu Du Tun and Pi Do Par of Thantlang area Tluangram ‘A’ village. He was born 7th September 1906 at Tluangram. He started attending school in 1966 at Mizo Lang, Bualpi village. He passed the fourth grade in 1920. As soon as he become Christian he went to Serkawr where the missionary Lorrain had founded a Bible School and from the month of January to April 1925 he attended the seminary. Rev. Leng Kham, pastor of Thau baptized him in 1933. As soon as he became a Christian “How can I become a gospel teacher” was his obsession and his constant prayer.
In 1944 a convention of the whole Chin churches was held at Vanzang but this was during the Second World War, people from other places could not turn up. Only people from their own Thantlang area did attend the said meeting. When he heard, at this meeting, the requirement of an evangelist for the Matupi area, he was deeply interested in his task and he applied for the post. Although the public was in favour of his appointment, the delegates votes was not carried, besides, lack of finance posed a big problem, and it looked like he could not be sent. At that time some one whose faith increased and his dedication to God’s works was increasing, the chief of Farrawn Pu Hrang Mang said he would disburse That Dun with Rs. 240 as his salary for one year, and thus he was sent to Matupi.Starting from April 1944 he was sent alone to Matu area and commenced his works. He reached Ngaleng village in the Matu area on the 12th May 1944.
After his arrival of this village he stayed on for one week and the headman of the village asked him what his purpose was for this visit. He told him that the government had sent him there had not lied, he would not be able to preach because prohibition was made not to preach the gospel. After that he shifted to Matupi village. Despite much hardship he could preach the gospel continuously, Of all the hardships the most troublesome was his inability of comprehending the Matu dialect. The man who translated his speeches was Pu Ra Zaw. When he traveled to the Dai area U Tlung Lai always followed him, he was a soldier believer and a baptized person.An Toi, a villager of Cangtak village, was the first to be baptized. He was baptized at the Satawm convention meeting in 1948. That Dun himself was ordained at this convention meeting in 1948, 12th March.Thus he went on spreading the gospel massage in the Matupi area and by 1950 there were already 44 villages who accepted Christianity. In 1951 all Christians in the Matu area gathered Matupi and celebrated Christmas together. Rev. That Dun attended the Bible School instituted by the Rev. Johnson and by October 1952 he was given a certificate of proficiency. Rev. That Dun and other believers were used by God in proclaiming the gospel in Matu and Zotung area continuously and in 1954 Zotung and Matu could form a regional association.
By the year 1963 Zotung Association became a separate entity. Then about 1984 there had been some trouble among them and the Matu Baptist Association of Baptist Churches (MABC) and the original (MBA), two association existed in the Matu area. Then at the celebration of the Christian Centenary at Khuasak 2003, Cin Tlang Baptist Association (CTBA) was formed up and thus there are now three Baptist associations in the Matu Area, or Matupi Township. But these work together harmoniously in spite of the splits. Rev. That Dun while carrying on the works of God, passed away on the 25th December 1967 leaving behind his beloved wife Tial Fam, and 7 children and the Matu Christians and his on-going works, and he was buried at Matupi.
5.4. Rev. Pa Hrek
Another worker at the Matu area was the Rev. Pa Hrek. He was from Thlualam of Thantlang area. He accepted Christianity as his faith in 1932 and Rev. Van Lo baptized him in 1933. He was selected to work in Matu area at the convention meeting of Chin Christian at Tlangpi village, Thantlang Township during March 1945. He started works in July 1945. During 1947-48 he attended Bible School in Hakha. He was ordained at Hmawngtlang Convention meeting in 1951. He worked at Cangtak, Valangte and Valangpi villages with much difficulty for 12 years and in 1957he returned to his own village.
6. Cultural Change and theology for Matu Peoples
The purpose of theology is to make or clarify Christian decisions. Theology is about choices; it is the attempt to think in a Christian way. And the need for choice and decision arises from specific settings in life. In this sense, the theological agenda is culturally induced; and the cross-cultural diffusion of Christian faith invariably makes creative theological activity a necessity. The materials for theology are equally culturally conditioned. They are inevitably the materials at hand in the situation where the occasion for decision has arisen, in interaction with the biblical material. The materials at hand have to be “converted,” turned towards Christ, in the process.
The classical doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation are largely constructed out of the materials of middle-period Platonism, converted in this way. (Conversion, we must constantly remind ourselves, is about turning what is already there , it is more about direction than about content.) These same classical doctrines of Trinity and incarnation sprang from the need to think in a Christian way about issues that had arisen out of the cross-cultural diffusion of the faith. Cultural change among Matu people, came in two ways, one was in political power that is the British rule, and other was in the spiritual power that is the coming of the missionaries with the power full Gospel of Christ. The form we began in so the British rules and the Christian missionaries, though they belong to different nationalities, British and America, cooperated in their mission to the Chin tribes, The British not only allowed the missionaries to enter the Chin Hill where there was no civilization , no literacy and no spiritual hope but they also used them, in some instances, as the superintendent of the British school education for the chin Hills Matu area, at that time.
The British outlawed slavery, head hunting, revenge and th3e power of chiefs (Boei) was greatly eroded in over them chin people, but for southern area, cultural structure of the Matu chin society has no class system from the beginning. In other way, one can say that animism also prepared the Matu peoples for Christianity, for the Matus had no class system, like other chin tribes do, and no written dogmas to hinder them from becoming Christians. Blood sacrifice to spirits enabled the Matu peoples to comprehend Christ’s supreme sacrifice and atoning power of his blood. The belief in entrance to heaven in the equivalent Christian term is now possible through faith in Christ. For Christ has given the Matus people Christian power and wisdom to overcome all the destructive works of the evil spirits, they no longer need to fear the spirits nor need to approach the diviner for help. The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil ( 1 John 3:8 ) and to serve as the highest permanent priest for all who approach God through Him ( Hebrew 7: 24-25) . The Matus peoples today firmly believe that the Holy Spirit in them is much stronger than the evil spirits when they feared before, and consequently this knowledge leads to them to a new step of life.
7. Matu Term for Salvation
When Matu people adopted Christianity as their religion, they experienced the idea of salvation as a liberation from social evil, superstitious beliefs and practices and from the fear of evil spirit. To explain the concept salvation, they adopted pour important concepts such as Tlan (redemption) , Hluan ( save), Loeih ( Liberation), A Kang ( Protection). 7.1. Tla(Redemption) The terns “Tlan” means release or deliverance of a person from judicial custody by paying penalty. Matu had quarrels with their neighboring villages over the boundaries of their land. Such disputes led to constant conflicts and bitter enmity.
It a person was captured by other villages during the conflict one had to pay for the release of that person a large amount of money or a thing equals to the money at least one “Mythum”. The hostage would be put in stocks till the demanded thing was received. This payment of money was called “Tlan” redemption with the coming of Christianity the enmity between the different villages vanished. They felt the need of accepting each other and respecting human life. The people realized themselves as prisoners of sin and they found Jesus Christ as the redeemer. The freedom that the gospel brought to Matu people has transformed the bitterness and hatred among them into mutual acceptance.
7.2. Hlawn (Save)
The release experienced by a person. When some one takes away a heavy load from his/ her back, which a person has been carrying a long time. In Matus agricultural economy, women have a major role. Women are not spared form the hardest jobs. Along with all usual domestic works they were to clear jungles for cultivation and carry a basket full of newly harvested paddy on their back to home they are not allowed to dried water on the way and are not expected to take bath till the harvest is finished.
This custom is known as ” Tuisi tuem”. Usually the farmland is far away form their villages, so their sufferings are beyond description. This custom is practiced in the name of their religion. Men have to bear a separate burden. They fell trees to clear a new land for cultivation. They carry the eldest woman in their village to the new land to sprinkle the animal blood there. After that ceremony the woman is snot supported to touch the ground till she reached her home. All Matus really longed for a deliverance from there kinds of religious practices. Due to the fear of curse and catastrophe from the angry gods they endured the sufferings. When the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to them, there were freed from all kinds of superstitions. They accepted this freedom joyfully. This freedom is known as “Hluan”. They confessed that Jesus Christ in their savior.
7.3. Loeih (Liberation)
The word “Loeih” means the freedom from bondage. It is not only an external freedom, but also more meaningfully the freedom of mind from anxiety and fear of death. The usage of this term has a specific background. Originally each Matu village is largely inhabited buy a single clan. There was no local government to keep the life peaceful. So struggles between the neighboring villages are common. People are afraid to go from one village to another. It there is an acute necessity for a person to go from one village to another, ever though it is only one day journey, he had to take three or four days to escape from the attack of other villagers.
So the fear of death was always in their life. It that person safely reached his destination he would say ” I am saved”.There is another fear, which suppresses the minds of the people. That is the fear of evil spirit (Rhai) like spirit of rivers, spirit of rocks, spirit of trees and spirit of streams, In order to avoid death by these spirits the people had to keep away from these places. After arrival of Christianity these superstitious beliefs vanished from the minds of the people. They started to love each other. They realized inner peace and freedom when they accepted the fact that there is a God who is almighty, controlling the power of nature, and also loving and concerning about the well being of all human beings.
7.4. Zoe Then (Grace or Blessing)
As Augustine says “The grace of God is present everywhere and at every moment, and that God’s grace changes human life. In Matu language there is no direct word for “grace”. Infant, they understood grace as blessing of God “Zoethen”. But it is different from the term lucks. Duck, in Matu is ” A Kam” which is adopted from the word “Kaan” in Burmese. The major difference is that the word luck or good fortune comes to a person through his labor when he/ she gets more then what is expected. On the other hand, but blessing “Zoethen” is received not by human effort.
Therefore the Matus also understand it as the gift of God. In order to know the favor of God, they followed a practice. At the tip of a long erected bamboo pole they hung a symbol of a cross and applied animal blood. People used to shoot at that symbol of cross (Sa tlock). It any one could shoot at the symbol of cross, they believed that God’s mercy is upon him. This act and its result are called “Zoethen”. It starts also for earth, health and delight. They are considered to be a gift of God known as ” Kho” or ” Khohni”. Matu people used the above mentored concepts to illustrate the salvation through the grace of God, and more precisely salvation is the gift of God. God shows no favoritism. All human beings can be the recipients of God’s blessing or salvation.
8. Matu traditional concept of life and its future.
Matu tradition considers long life in this world as blessing and views it as reward for keeping social order of the traceable community, death , particularly, sudden death is considered as a terrible misfortune, and is often interpreted as divine punish meant for the breach of social code. They believed that in the future world a person would have to reap the consequence pf past misdeeds and to suffer from the circle of rebirths in this world. The dead is traced like as it he were really living. In this earthly world a person has to perform religious festival at least three times by killing mithurn for his spiritual survival. At his funeral, a person is offered everything that he might reed in his next life. Matus believe that a dead person goes to the dead village to ” sel khui kho” through agate which is situated between the earth and the dead village.
This celestial gate is guarded by a mythical being the evil one like the rock with the open mouth. The dead has to appease the evil one like the open mouth, because of this traditional reason the killing of not animal is required for one’s funeral ceremony. The animal sacrificed is offered to the dead to accompany him to his abode. This animal sacrificed alone is sufficient for entering into the avode of the dead villages. Traditional belief implies that the dead could bring all the thing to spiritual word, that are given to a person at his funeral ceremony and all the riches and social prestige that he accumulated in his life time. They prefer to die natural death anther then accidental death ” Sai cet”. The Matu idea of eschatology is concerned with the need to pursue worldly things. A person is believed to be transmuted to another form of life at the moment of his death,. She/ he puts on in the next life the clothes, which he/ she wears at the moment of her/ his death. This belief involves that if a person is captured by evil spirit e.g. rocks or rivers he becomes under the power of the evil spirit. An animal sacrifice at his funeral will deliver his spirit.
9. “God” in Matu Chin Today
Before the coming of missionaries the Matus people adhered to their indigenous religion, but in during the second world war Christianity was introduced to the Matu people from Americans Via the northern chin hills. Today the majority of population is Christian. As we have already mentioned in chapter two, the advent and influence of British rulers and Christian missionaries has Staten over the Matu religion and culture.
What the missionary gave to Matus people is western Christianity, There fore we will try to understand God our Kho in Matu traditional religion as a means of constructing fa theology based on a radically monotheistic understanding of God which will reaffirm, reinterpret, and redirect, church traditions and help solve the problems caused b y theological confusion and conflicts in that particular content. We will conclude with the challenge to the western theological content and its application in the development of genuine Matu Christianity.
10. Separation of Christian Brethrens due to Revivalism “Hlimsang” Movement
Around 1939 there appeared a spiritual revival among Mizo people of India through the works of Welsh Presbyterian Mission. This movement employed beating of tom-toms, dancing, and speaking in unknown tongue. The Pentecostal movement and charismatic movement of present day were similar to this revival movement. In some places when this movements were in excess, dancing, shouting, falling down to the floor, jabbering in tongues etc. there were occasions when Christian leaders could not cope with the situation.
The emphasis on the Second Coming theme engendered fatalism in people’s idea so much that many refused to work in fields or at home. Some refused to go to schools. They developed unteacheable spirit because they claimed that the Holy Spirit touched them and hence there was not need for any one else to teach them. Dancing and socializing every night eventually caused sexual debauchery and many other unwanted things were manifested. About their dances, Dr. Johnson wrote: “Holy Rollerism”. In 19th of January, 1951, Rev. Robart G. Johnson and party arrived at Ngaleng village and they were met by Rev. That Dun and Saya Pa Hrek. They both were graduated from Northern Chin Haka Bible School. In 20th January, 1951, Rev. Johnson and party arrived at Ngaleng Village, and they were met by U Sang Ning, a member of Parliament, a group of Christians, Policemen, and students. At the time, Matupi was the quarter of the government in Matu area. During the arrival of Rev. Johnson and his group at Matupi, some of believers misinterpreted the Scripture passage, especially, Acts 2.1-4, ‘The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost’, because of that “hlim sang” meaning, “high emotion” (charismatic) was so popular among the believers t every village. Rev. Johnson preached and explained what is the true meaning of that passages, the true nature of worship that is acceptable to God, what did really happened on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts.
I noticed that there are some benefits of Revivalism and weak points of Revivalism as I mention in the following:
(a)The Benefit of Revivalism
01. Increase in believers and churches
02. Desire for God’s words and hymns increased (many song composers came into existence.)
03. Increase in numbers of evangelists and preachers.
04. Increase in giving.
05. Learning, teaching etc. increased.
06. It enhanced the desire to go to new mission fields.
(b)Draw-backs of Revivalism
Weak points and draw-back of Revivalism:
01. Criticism and back-biting are rife.
02. Disdaining of other people’s opinion became common.
03. Impediment in domestic development. (Especially those of lower echelons in society were prone to disregard their domestic affairs gave preference to gatherings, training, than homes, fields, children etc.)
04. Negligence of morality (sex) happened.
Schisms among established churches or community resulted often. We, Matu people, should be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom of God because He promises to those who love Him. Therefore, in Christ Jesus, let us build up our self-identity and cultural integrity in terms of faithfulness as a mature spirituality. For if we are not faithful to sow the seeds we will be blown out by the waves, the strong winds, and be persuaded by the deceitful men who lead others astray.
Every evangelist has to show the way of eternal life by carrying seeds to so within our Matu land and those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy ( Ps. 126: 5 ) . In the same way, let your lights be shine before men that they may see your good works and glorifying your Father in heaven ( Matt. 5. 16 ) Now Matu people become a new Christian changed from old animistic believers and we should have to try to follow our righteous way of life and imitate in our faith for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today , and forever ( Hebrews 13: 7 ).
Matu believers who had received the gospel light of salvation, were no longer satisfied with evangelizing their own vicinity but they have convictions and burden’s to share the gospel messages to different dialect specking people, who has dissimilar customs and traditions, should all be evangelized near and far. Christianity was also responsible for the extermination of evil cultures, such as head hunting, witch craft revenge between tribes and families, etc, of the ethnic minorities. By the grace of God when the gospel come to Matu people, it reformed many things in Matu Culture for the better. The most obvious among the development programme is education. It is the best way to help develop Matu and their environment.
The main driving force of the chin society that has transformed it from its long bondage of alcoholic drinking life to the better and educated level of life would be none other than the power of the gospel. The christen gospel preached by Rev. That Dun transformed that Matu from being the evil spirits fearers to the evil spirits over-comers. The Christian gospel helps them to speak out clearly and loudly against all evil systems and structure in their cultures, for instance, the power of chiefs, the division of social classes, oppression of women, superstitious practices, etc.. Among the most important life change as stated earlier was the change from the belief in and propitiation of the many spirits to the worship of the one God.
To be specific, after the gospel came to the Matu people, fear of spirits has ended as 1John 3:8 describes, “The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of devil.” Today, the Matu Christians firmly believe that the Holy Spirit given by Christ is much stronger than the power of the evil spirits, whom they feared before. And consequently, this knowledge leads them to a new step of life. The Matus now believe that God has given them wisdom and knowledge to discern the good from the bad, the holy from unholy, and the light from the darkness. They now come to understand the God of their ancestors and the God about whom the missionaries told them as the one God who rules the universe and became the reformer and promoter of their cultural and social life. They believe Christ not only as the reformer but also as the fulfiller of values inherent in the Matu culture. It is no longer possible for the Chin people to change their lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with any other God in this world. It is through the power of the gospel of Christ that the Chin people changed their lives from the worshippers of evil spirits to worshippers of the living and eternal God.
The coming of the Gospel of Christ to the Matu’s land is therefore a significant step for the animistic Matus both to the loss and rediscovery of their own history, culture, languages, and religion. This step is also the beginning of their Cultural Revolution and new anodes to the promise land that flows with mile and honey that is of the greater civilization, growth, and maturity. In their long journey to a century, the Matus have come across with many. Political, social, cultural and economical changes and even the unprecedented challenges. Speaking from a cultural perspective, there were a lot of changes in the Matu culture and social life, and these changes had many to do with the way they have believed in their missionaries God. For God whom their missionaries taught them has been God who powerfully destroyed all works of evil spirits embodied in the human culture and moral attitudes.
Since 50 years the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached in Matu land. It has removed several social evils. In the beginning the main missionary concern was the establishment of the churches. However, at the end of the 20th century, same changes happened because Matu Christians began to analyse their context situation. Matus want to understand Christian message in their own cultural context. Thus gospel become real and relevant. It is very important to deepen the interaction between the Christian faith and Matu culture. It is possible to cognize similarities among different culture. It helps to develop mutual understanding and respect for each other. It is important that Jesus’ liberation can be relied in Matu situation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ helps to improve the Matu community as a whole.
In fact, Christianity is not indigenous to the Matu people because it was not born in this region, it was borrowed from missionaries with a western from of culture. Actually, the traditional religious belief helped people it understand Christianity better. Hence, in summary, God of the Holy and God of light have made them the Matus, find themselves in the unholy and wretched condition to their own existence and have made them feel estrange to their own culture. And yet God has given them, his wisdom and knowledge to discern the good from the bad, the Holy from the unholy and the light from the darkness. We know that Christ has exorcised demons out of the man, but at the same time we also know that Christ has restored him to the normal life and asked him to continue to live and work for God’s kingdom.
In fact, God whom our missionaries taught us shall not only the creator but he shall significantly be the reformer and educator of our animistic culture and social life. We proclaim that Christ has saved us from the binding power of darkness to the liberating power of light and so we now have a new principle of life and a new form of culture- a culture that is no longer demonic and oppressive in form and structure. Christ has become hence not only the reformer but also the fulfiller of all our selfâ€”hood values inherent in our own culture (Matt. 5: 17). In the Gospel of Christ, we are purposefully given a new direction to a new life, to new desisting, and to a new set of cultural values.
For the 21st century, the Matu Christians need the right motives and aims for our mission. Training and theological education may be every important for missionaries, but our motives and aims are more important then training and theological education. Financial resources may be another problem, but money will not solve all our problems. The right motive may be the one, which can solve our financial denominational, situational, and contextual problems most effectively in the mission of the Matus-tribes in the 21st century.
Now, Matus people become a new Christian, changed from old animistic believers and we should have to try to follow our righteous way of life and imitate our “Faith” for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13: 7).
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2. Lehman, F.K., the Structure of Chin Society, .Illinois: The University Of Illinois Press1963
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4. ____________ ____”The Light of Matu Land” in Yangon Matupi Bible Students Fellowship Magzine,vol. 5 . Yangon:2005
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7. Ling, Salai Thawng, Rev.That Dun’s Golden Jubilee. Matupi: Matupi Baptist Association, 1994
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13. Zomi Baptist Convention, CCOC Mission History,vol. 1. Falam:ZBC,1999
14. Zomi Theological College, Chin Church History. Falam, Chin State: Zomi Theological College, 2007
15. Johnson, Robert G., History of the American Baptist Chin Mission vol. I,Valley Forge, PA: 1988
 Hla Poe, Matupi Township’s Golden Jubilee Mgazine-1949- 1999(Matupi:1999) ,158.
 Hla Poe, Matupi Township’s Golden Jubilee Mgazine-1949- 1999,159.
 F.K. Lehman, the Structure of Chin Society, (Illinois: The University Of Illinois Press1963), 82.
 Bung Kone, The History of Baptist Mission Among The Matu Tribes In Southern Chin State(Unpublished Thesis, Mandalay: Myanmar Theological College,2005) ,6.
 Bung Kone, The History of Baptist Mission Among The Matu Tribes In Southern Chin State,18.
 Lydia Darzing, Impact of Christianity on Matu Women,(Unpublished B.D.Thesis, Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and research Institute,1996) ,43.
 Bung Kone, The History of Baptist Mission Among The Matu Tribes In Southern Chin State,25.
 Bung Kone, “The Light of Matu Land” in Yangon Matupi Bible Students Fellowship Magzine,vol. 5 (Yangon:2005) ,87.
 Ibid., 32.
 Ibid., 34.
 Prof.Dr.Cung Lian Hup, Thinking About Christianity and Chins in Myanmar (Yangon, MIT: 1999), 101-103.
 Salai Za Uk Ling&Salai Bawi Lian Ling, Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christians In Burma(Canada,Ottaw: Chin Human Rights Orgnization, 2004),28- 29.
 Salai Thawng Ling, Rev.That Dun’s Golden Jubilee(Matupi: Matupi Baptist Association, 1994),45- 46.
 Zomi Baptist Convention, CCOC Mission History,vol. 1(Falam:ZBC,1999) 66.
 Thawng Ling, Rev.That Dun Golden Jubilee, 46-47.
Zomi Theological College, Chin Church History( Falam, Chin State: Zomi Theological College, 2007), 208.
 ZBC, CCOC Mission History,vol. 1,72-73.
 Andrew F. Walls, The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History(New York, Mary knoll: Orbis Books,2002), 79.
 Laithang Cang Toi, That Dun’s Golden Jubilee Magazine(Matupi:1994) ,92.
 Bung Kone, The History of Baptist Mission Among The Matu Tribes In Southern Chin State,41.
 Ibid., 42.
 Laithang Biak Son, Thawng Hnin Zam and T.Joshua, Brief History Of Union Theological College(Yangon:2004) ,35-36.
 Bung Kone, The History of Baptist Mission Among The Matu Tribes In Southern Chin State,43.
 Millard J.Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House,1985), 633.
 Laithang Biak Son, Thawng Hnin Zam and T.Joshua, Brief History Of Union Theological College,50-54.
 Robert G. Johnson, History of the American Baptist Chin Mission vol. I ( Valley Forge, PA:1988), 1194
 Bung Kone, “The Light of Matu Land” in Yangon Matupi Bible Students Fellowship Magzine,vol. 5,86.