Death and Dignity

Tungshang Ningreichon
Letlal Haokip loves to play football and rarely misses a game when he gets a chance. Letlal was the Pastor of the Kuki Worship Service, Delhi for 14 years and moved on to form a denomination and ethnicity-free ‘Journey Church’ in 2015. The Church now houses four Pastors; an Assamese, a Poumai Naga, a Paite and Pastor Letlal, a Kuki, bringing to foreground the embracing diversity of the Church. He said, ‘There are many single parents and IVF parents in the Church. Society usually looks down on them but I have a heart for them’ he shared.
Pastor Letlal lives in Dwarka with his wife and three children. He is not Covid positive but is in isolation because ever since the lockdown started, he has been assisting people in distress; transporting Covid positive persons to hospitals, tending the needs of the sick at home, and visiting them to pray with them.
As the city grapples with the devastation of the pandemic, many deaths are left unattended because there is no one to take care of them, and in such a time Pastor Letlal is grateful to God for placing him officially with the SouthWest Delhi Christian Cemetery.
He recounted painfully the story of a family keeping the body of their father in the house for three days because they could not find a burial place. When he heard about it, he immediately called the family and took care to bury him.
He also shared that another family called him for a burial around 2.30 pm.The cemetery closes by 5 pm and it takes four hours to dig a grave, but he told them he will wait and help them bury their loved one.
Sometimes he gets calls from families who cannot afford a burial. In such cases the Journey Church bears half or the entire cost.  A burial cost Rs 5000, he said.
During this COVID times he has buried ten people he doesn’t know but God does.
He said he is not fearful to be exposed to the virus but takes all the precautionary measures the experts advise to protect himself. ‘The Holy Spirit covers the rest,’ he added.
“If there is fear, check your heart if you are a born-again Christian,” he exhorts.
His first child, a daughter named Vahneinem, bears the mission of Pastor Letlal. The name, he said, means “In order to have the Light (Lord Jesus Christ) we need to be humble.”
We want stories of courage to hinge our weary selves on during a difficult time like this. Pastor Letlal’sheart inspires hope in the living by giving dignity to the dead.

Tungshang Ningreichon writes occasionally for the love of stories. She is a mother of three and is based in Delhi.