Addressing the NGO-ing of the Church

Published on July 18, 2007

By Lunminthang Haokip

July 19, 2007: In war, when the sovereignty of a nation is at stake, no effort is spared to rope in anything and anybody who can somehow shoulder the responsibility of a soldier: more so when the regular army is fighting a losing battle. In peace, the pace of development in the talked-about nations was found to have fallen short of the collective international expectation.

The thinking citizenry felt the urgent need to make things happen faster in an efficiently organized manner. These global and regional environmental and developmental issues may be addressed to and taken up on a war-footing, the concept of NGO was born with the dissimilarly similar vested interest of added advantage the Pakis had on the hired mercenaries of the Kargil-heights.


Big Money: An NGO can be anything from the prestigious UNO to the noble Sulabh International to the exemplary developmental agencies of your own township. RDO sets the trend in good work in Manipur. But in India, for every RDO, there are a dozen NPOs (non-performing organizations) or PPOs (partially performing organizations). An NGO promises big money, wider exposure, frequent city-hopping travel and job-opportunities for one’s kith and kin. Exotic ideals are laid down by the funding enterprises for strict compliance of the implementing agencies. But at the receiving end, irresponsible elements are at play –scheming overtime on the schemes up for grabs.


Women Of Sub-stance: The relative absence of official red-tap-ism in getting NGO-funds and the soft-pedaled accountability in its utilization, catch the imagination of insecure politicians, politically ambitious bureaucrats, bureaucrat-friendly social climbers of expensive taste and taste-specific but expense-unspecific women of sub-stance. Yes, the irresistible lure of fast-buck and instant life-of-ease spreads wide like the spider’s web in the NGO horizon. Glamour-struck social-flies invite themselves into the web-trap and get willingly ensnared. Sad to know that the worldly-minded jet-set includes some church-leaders who defiantly echo with their nonchalant attitude that the church itself is an NGO!


The Church: In essence, the church certainly isn’t an NGO. It’s not an organization or a building but an organism – through which God intends to destroy Satan’s kingdom and establish His righteousness. “Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it (Ephesians 5:25, 26)”. God will never approve the defiling of His house by the super-imposed operation of the market- forces in its activities. The principles of these materialistic mess-between-two-poles cannot be applied in God’s kingdom. Because He is holy, the standards He sets for His dwelling-place are other-worldly. St. Paul wrote in Eph.5:27, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish”.


The Bride: The Bible refers to the church as the bride that Christ, the Groom will ultimately marry. If we, who are filthy conformers or saved-sinners at the best, throw tantrums to get a bride that is chaste, how much more our Lord will be concerned about the purity of His own. The commandments were meant to bring about churches “having no spot or wrinkle” out of the sin-infested descendants of Adam and Eve through the sinner’s successive confessional and conscience-cleansing filtering process. The futuristic words of the prophets, the awesome lives of the saintly Patriarchs and the austere training the Disciples underwent were all divinely planned out to edify depraved mortals and present a “glorious church” to Jesus.


Fruits for Repentance: Having offered salvation to mankind on a silver platter and raised so many labourers for work in His vineyard, God now is on the look-out for fruits of repentance and holiness in our congregations. We, for sure, cannot expect Him to wink at the pastoral lapses when the chief among His anointed ones flash 100–watt smiles around elsewhere in the glitteringly slippery corridors of NGO-power. Isn’t a man known by the company he keeps?


Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Rom 16:17)”.


Here the apostle to the gentiles exhorts believers to hold fast onto the “doctrine they have learned”. What is that doctrine? It is the doctrine of “bringing fruits meet for repentance (Mt. 3:8)”, of confession (Prov. 28:13), of “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience (Heb. 10:22)”, of righteousness and “stealing no more (Eph.4:24-28)”, of bridling our tongues (Eph. 4:29)” and of faith. Unfortunately, in our money-centric churches, the messages of faith fly over our heads because the overbearing emphasis is on the new mantra of  NGOs and overheads.


In some places of worship, souls are valued as sources of tithe. No one dares to expose sin as what sin is. Trouble is taken to flatter transgressors and keep them in good humour with an eye on ulterior advantage. Thus, we bring fruits meet for hardening of hearts that are tickled by an evil conscience. These greed-activated malpractices serve as the spots and blemishes that cause divisions and commission of offences in our spiritual lives.


For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (Rom 16:18)”.


Foreign-Mania: America has become the Mecca and Korea, the Kolar gold-fields, for some pseudo-preachers who profess belief in but don’t live up to the famous verse, “The just shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17)”. Their crazy craving to creep into the US of A by hook or by crook “defies all understanding”. It is equaled only by the desperate desire – that bordered on madness – of the two guys who were cheated by a Delhi-based con-visa fixer to cling onto the wheels of  the London-bound plane at Delhi Airport, several years back, ‘till death did them apart’. One of them survived, of course, and found his name in the book of records as the first man in history to cling onto the wheels of a plane from Delhi to London.


To study Theology, people don’t mind getting false income certificate and membership recommendation from a church they don’t belong to. Lies are spoken without batting an eyelid against the warning in Revelation 21:8. There in foreign land, our keen-type brothers of  country-origin, get mesmerized when they feast their eyes on the skyscrapers, yankee lifestyle, big farms, ranches, houses and their furnishing, electronic gadgets and the sleek motor-cars cruising on the boulevards.


Great Expectations: “Fair speeches” led our gullibly hopeful members of the home-chapel to have great expectations on our America-sojourning leaders. Most overseas visits from this shore however are motivated solely by the super-purchasing power of the US-dollar. Some of our emissaries waste a lot of time giving and taking addresses but their foreign addresses are never let known to home-folks.


Working-hour-obsessed; certain brothers from third-world countries extra-stretch their nerves for extra-green-backs. Nothing spiritual about it. So when highly-tipped organization-leaders return home with proud heads pregnant with America-inspired ideas, they bring back nothing of the faith of the land Charles Finney revived, D.L Moody nurtured and Billy Graham sustained.


Skin-Worship: In the company of skin and dollar worshippers, suggestions to win souls through specific confession, repentance and setting things right are pooh-poohed; long faces are drawn at long prayers, and at seekers of God’s promise and guidance. NRI-culture is introduced in God’s ministry. TV – no problem! Political confabulations – no problem! Restitution- there’s problem. “They serve not our Lord. Self is served in the name of Jesus.


And to the laymen’s dismay, leaders don’t learn that what is considered a bare necessity in the advanced nation of US of A is regarded as a sinful luxury here in this developing country of ours. Of course, they soon learn that to do God’s work in style, the church-money is chicken-feed. So, many title-holders embark on the NGO-bandwagon and leave the affairs of worship and soul-winning to the PUDs (poor untrained Deacons). No wonder, the spiritual progress of several congregations are chugging back in reverse-gear.


JEHOVAH Jireh Jeered:  The oft-repeated alibi that a compromising Christian gives is that one can’t carry the burden of the cross on an empty stomach. The hungry mouths, he says, must be fed first before the Gospel is given. Mired in such an illusion, some Christian NGOs, in the name of serving the Lord, end up serving Him 5% and the un-satiable human desires 95%. Well, Moses fed millions of Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years without seeking help from any authority of this world. Jesus provided for 5000 souls out of five loaves and two fishes.


The unwavering faith of George Muller took care of over Ten thousand orphans in England and Scotland in late 19th century. Jehovah Jireh. God provides. But first, we have got to, in faith, surrender our five loaves and two fishes to Him who knows our needs best. With clean conscience, we ought to go to the God who blessed America and Europe, give thanks, do His will and claim His promises. “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat and the body is more than raiment (Luke 12:22, 23)”.


The Silver Giver: Wrong means can never justify right ends, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine (Hagg.2:8)”, says the Lord. But we believe more in human efforts and projects that are never or partially meant to be implemented. We trust our technical knowledge, pursuing skills and influencing capacity. We cringe and crawl before ungodly men so as to get our things done. The objects may be high-sounding. Nevertheless, if you flout rules, deceive others, send false reports and become ‘glass-fellows’ with boozers for material gains, you’ll reap dissatisfaction and misery. “You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat but do not have enough (Hagg. 1:6)”. Jesus, the bread of life, warns, “Do not labour for the food which perishes (John 6:27)”.


Endure Hardship: As true followers of our Lord, at times you may find the going getting tough. Trials and temptations are bound to come your way. If you jealously leave no stone unturned to lead people to the Lord, self-righteous enemies of the Truth will leave no turn of yours un-stoned. You’ve got to fix your eyes on Jesus – the only power the devil recognizes. Then troubles will become bubbles. You’ll draw strength, not from the promising stuff the world offers, but from the inexhaustible resources the Scripture promises,“ You therefore must endure hardship as good soldier of Jesus Christ II Timothy 2:3)”.


And to the servant of God who is inclined to serve two masters, the Word of God says, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life that he may please Him who enlisted as a soldier (II Tim 2:4)”. Preparedness to endure hardship under any spiritual weather distinguishes super-humans from mere humans, transformers from conformers and true soldiers of Christ from Chocolate-cream-soldiers.


The author is Additional Deputy Commissioner under the government of Manipur, a Northeast state in India.