70 years ago today, in a faraway village of a small district in Mizoram, a village that no longer exists or leaves its mark in the world, was born a baby whose folks decided to name Lalchansanga. Along the years, he would face many trials, have many dreams and achieve some of them, but for now he was a young boy running around the muddy fields of Bawngchawm. The village was a lively one, daytime was spent in fields while evenings were for singing and dancing and festivities with rice wine. The men in the village were brave and proud, they loved their land and nothing did deter their spirits. They were also men who bravely held cups of wine night after night. And Lalchansanga’s family expected the young lad to be no better in the coming years.
Families don’t always get along perfect, and due to the result of such imperfection, Lalchansanga was left in the care of his grandparents. For the next 16 years until he reached high school, the lad walked five kilometres everyday to get to his school. He got one new pair of shirt and pant a year which he always saved for the next year. His study lamp was a streetlight because the elders in the house did not want to waste firewood to light alphabets in a book.
When it was time for high school, Lalchansanga decided to leave for the Adventist Training School. From a village of one of the most rural parts of the state, English was foreign to the lad. So he strived harder than each man, to one day speak as one of them.
The lad strived for three years amidst storms and gunfires, amidst troubled times in the Mizo land. Through soldiers and sounds of gunfire he walked mile after mile with prayers and miracles keeping him guard. And he kept studying and he kept passing, and he locked himself in the classroom while the whole world was playing because he knew he had to try harder than each man to one day be one like them.
And when he got a certificate from high school, he wanted to get more. So he went on to the college where they said he could, Spicer Memorial College. And here got a certificate in B.L.A and in B. Th. But that was not enough. So he got an M.A certificate from Pune University. He had little to no allowance, pocket money was a foreign word, and fees were payable only by him. So each holiday, while the rest of the world trudged home with their suitcases, Lalchansanga got into a bus with a bag of books, hoping for sales that would wipe out the numbers on his fee bills. The little lad from Bawngchawm was learning to collect certificates. He went on to collect certificates in M.Div and D.P.Th in the Philippines earning himself a doctor before Lalchansanga.
Lalchansanga gained fame not for looks or charm, in schools they talked of the small boy who would save his pencil till it was two and then one inch. They talked of the man whose motto was, “Try hard, try very hard, try very very hard.” They talked of the 7th grade boy due to whom an entire exam routine was changed because he refused to write an exam on Saturday, the Sabbath.
But if there was anything Lalchansanga gained fame for, it should be for loving the Lord. And for the Lord’s mercies on Him. When the little lad was a couple of years old, his father came home from a distant land bringing home the good Advent news and life was never the same again. The boy they thought would join the ranks of the men who bravely held cups of wine became the man who bravely held the Bible throughout India, and the world. When the lad was ten he had made up his mind, his life was to be the Lord’s, owing to the everyday prayer of his grandmother who with her hand on his head, would plead, “Let him be a light for you.” And though he was not so good at loving, he loved the Lord as best as he could and served him for forty-two years of his life.
Some might call him ruthless, some may call him a miracle of Gods doing, I call him my dad. Sitting by a winter fire with crackling woods and fickle flames, Lalchansanga once narrated to me how he walked to a nearby village one summer holiday to sell his books but sold none, and on the way home, hungry and drained out, he sold out his entire bag of books for earnings that would have taken him a week to get. See, we love him, but the Lord loves Him most. And their love for each other is evident in the conviction in his tone whenever he utters the verse, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
When Lalchansanga was small, someone once told him he was going to travel the world, it was a joke to the neighborhood. The boy in the wooden hut with no shoes and one pair of clothes travelling the world? At 70, he has visited 34 countries. The boy who walked five kilometres to get to school has proven his point in the five books he authored.
The little lad from Bawngchawm may have travelled far and wide, he may have grown a bit taller, but he has not changed much. He still returns to the village that now only exists in memory to revisit his heart, he still saves maybe not pencils anymore but lives with the grace of Jesus. He has not changed much, he never spends much, on food, or clothes or anything else, because he knows where he came from, nothing came easy.
Apa, I don’t know how much words are needed to show you how proud I am to be your daughter but I am. I am proud to be the daughter of Lalchansanga who despite the fact that he has retired after forty-two years of service still wakes up at five every morning and spends atleast 4 hours a day holed up in a little corner room filled with books, reading, writing and praising God everyday.
Happy 70th Birthday. 11/7/17