State of Arunachal Pradesh is in the Northeastern tip of India covering 83,743 sq. km in area. It is the largest state in northeast India with the population of 13.84 lakhs as per 2011 census. There are 26 major tribes and 82 known dialects. The main religions are Donyi-Polo (worship of God through Sun and Moon), Buddhism, Animism, Hinduism and Christianity.
It was in late nineteen sixties or in early seventies that Mr. Albert Charles Brown (L), who lived in Guwahati, received the Adventist truth. Soon after that he decided to go to Oyan (a small town in Arunachal under East Siang District) where he had a friend Mr. Dimbeswor Payeng (L), later known as Dimbeswor Lego, with whom he wanted to share his new found truth. Mr. Payeng too accepted the message and he became the first to be baptized from Arunachal on 28th October, 1972 the year in which Arunachal got its statehood status. He was baptized in Shillong. Later Mr. Payeng briefly became a Mission worker but because he could not really decide (agree) to be transferred to another place, he remained in Oyan and continued to be a strong believer.
With Pr. Lalhmingliana (extreme right), those baptized in the first batch in 1974.
Evangelism in Arunachal was not easy. It was difficult to start any evangelistic work during those days. Christian missionary activities were not allowed (and are still not officially allowed). Bibles and materials related to proselytizing of others to Christian faith were strictly banned. In fact, in the year 1978 government of Arunachal, in order to protect its unique culture, indigenous faith, passed anti-conversion bill to prevent conversion of local people to Christianity (or to other outside religion). However, with the work of Mr. Payeng and with the occasional visit of Pr. Lalhmingliana, Mr. AC Brown, some people accepted Christ and accepted the Adventist message. Among those who were baptized as the first batch (as the result of Mr. Payeng’s work) were: Mrs. Leela Payeng (Mr. Payeng’s wife), Mrs. O. Mize, Mrs. Yayong Mize, Mrs. Yadeng Mize, Mr. & Mrs. Tasik Mize, Mr. Tago Takuk, Mr. Barnabas and few others. They were baptized in North Lakhimpur, Assam, in the year 1974. Also baptized in 1974 was Mr. Amak Gamnoh (L) from Kiyit, under East Siang District, Arunachal Pradesh, who remained faithful till he passed away in 2014. After that, from eighties, we don’t hear much of evangelistic activities or visits, perhaps persecution against conversion became stronger at that time.
Nevertheless, in the year 1990, when GC started Global Mission program, Pr. C. Aitawna was given in charge of Northeast India Union Global Mission program. Based on one of the goals of Global Mission program to enter new places, Pr. C. Aitawna ventured to Arunachal again starting in Oyan and Pasighat. Some volunteers were then appointed to work here. Then in the year 1999 Arunachal Pradesh Region of SDA was officially set up with Pr. C. Aitawna being its first director. Soon two theology graduates from Spicer Mr. Lungaichung Golmei and Mr. Belum Pashel joined the workforce. From then on to till date the Adventist Mission in Arunachal has steadily grown. The first person from the state who went to study theology at Spicer and later joined the work in 2007 was Pr. Deepak Boro.
Today, till February 2018, we have 350 active members, one CBSE based school (Siang Valley Academy) up to class VIII, One primary school Nursery – Class 3 at the region headquarter Itanagar, 3 ordained pastors (1 administrative and 2 field pastor), 2 regular evangelists, 2 probationary evangelist, 1 Lay Sponsor evangelist, 7 Global Pioneers, 9 regular teachers, 2 probationary teachers, 3 contract teachers and 2 SDA regular non-teaching staff. Also, there is 1 organized church, 11 companies and 10 isolated congregations. The Region Headquarter is in state capital: Itanagar.
While opposition to Christianity has been relaxed these days with the conversion of many people to different denominations, Adventist Mission has so far covered only 6 districts out of 20 districts of Arunachal. Major challenges lies in the lack of workforce, quick communication due to hilly areas and bad roads, difficulty to practice Adventist way of life by people and to some extend constrain of tight financial status. However, as Arunachal is now looking like an opened territory for fulfilling the gospel commission of Jesus, “Go, teach and make disciples,” we believe that Adventist message will be proclaimed to every district. We praise God for bringing the truth to this land through those who have gone ahead of us and to those who have come and left.
Workers so far:
|1. Mr. Dimbeswor Payeng||Evangelist||1970s|
|2. Pr. C. Aitawna||Director||1999-2002|
|3. Pr. Tawkthanga||Director||2002-2006|
|4. Pr M. Romawia||Director||2006-2011|
|5. Pr. Belum Pashel||Director||2011-2016|
|6. Pr. Lalrohlua Fanai||Director||2016…|