Go Forward


(On Leaving the Missionary Convention)

Go forward into the hills beyond all loveliness

Through the misty haze of the early morning

Burnt away as through a glass darkly by the rising sun

Telling creation's story to the beat of drum

With reflections on the gathered convention.


Go forward through the winding roads of the Mizo valleys

Bamboo forests side by side with teak

And the occasional jhum [1] - fields cleared by the fires

Anticipating growth and the new season's gift

To a people joyfully celebrating the rains.


Go forward along the mountain ridges,

Dragging a trolley cart with the least of possessions

Anticipating support from the hills

From whence comes help

To fill a disciple's empty bag. [2]


Go forward through the clouds and a sodden earth

Flowing away with the stream under the stilted houses

Clothed with bamboo matting which hides a multitude

Of domiciliary sins and the crudeness of the child

Exposed to the peering gaze of a passer-by.


Go forward to the village finding rusted corrugated iron

With boarded asbestos and a derelict house

Around fox holes and birds' nests

Where another has nowhere to lay his head

And neither have we.


Go forward past the gentlest scent of the Vaube [3]Bauhinia_purpurea.jpg

Heralding spring and the loneliness of heaven

While the wanderer searches still for a loved one lost [4]

Carrying memories of the past still unforgiven

In the bondage of a jungled life.


Go forward along the mountain passes,

Mud slipping over the edges, but leaving behind

The solid rock on which we build a prayer stop

For a departed comrade [5] who laid down life

Without being given a moment's notice.


Go forward under Khawlkhuma's flag [6], rolled out

With its faded colours preserved by posterity's claim

On his spirit and an unashamed cross hoisted high [7]

Proclaiming that one man's death brings another life

And my own calling and commitment.


Go forward with the songs of a weekend

Echoing in the heart and through the valleys

To the light step of a mountain dance in celebration praise

Reviving memories of all things past [8]

And building a picture of the future's hope.


Aizawl - Saitual


17 March 2003


[1] Annual burning of the scrub to create new fields

[2] Matthew 10:10

[3] Bauhinia - a flowering gently scented tree

[4] Mizos sing a 'ballad' about the lost loved one at this time of the year.

[5] Colonel Rust, who died in Mizoram in a Land Rover accident

[6] Paul Khawlkhuma - the pioneer Salvationist. When TSA was proscribed in Mizoram Senior Captain Lalkaithanga and loyal Salvationists planted another flag on Phawngpui (Blue Mountain) on the highest hill of Mizoram in commitment to maintain 'their church'. 

[7] Soldiers of the Cross were among the delegates to the convention and were returning to their appointments as we traveled. The weekend had also included the commissioning of the first two missionaries to Arunachal Pradesh.

[8] Another allusion to the Mizo ballad.