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Kidnappers free Upper Room editor in India

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A UMNS photo courtesy of the Board of Discipleship

The Rev. Tongkhojang Lunkim (left) shakes hands with John Brown of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in a file photo.
March 20, 2006

By Linda Green*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — After two months of captivity, an international editor of the Upper Room has been released.

The Upper Room received word March 18 that the Rev. Tongkhojang Lunkim, the editor of the Kuki (in India) edition of the Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide, has been released by a group of rebels called the Kuki Liberation Army.

According to, a Web site that has been providing updates about Lunkim, he was released around 2 p.m. India time. He was described as stable and strong.

“The Upper Room is celebrating today this good news and thanks God for his release,” says a statement released by the Upper Room. “We have held prayer vigils, and many of the staff have kept him in our prayers every day of his captivity.”

“We are absolutely elated and feel that the work of the Holy Spirit was at work through the prayers given by people across the globe,” said the Rev. Stephen Bryant, world editor and publisher of the Upper Room, which is a ministry of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville.

“The staff of the Upper Room and all who work at the General Board of Discipleship feel our prayers have been answered, and we thank all who have been praying with us,” he said.

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The Rev. Stephen Bryant
Lunkim was held for 64 days by the rebel army for reasons that remain unclear. “It is a mystery to us about what has happened both in his capture and release,” Bryant said. “Many of us had lost hope that Dr. Lunkim would be freed.”

Lunkim led a ministry in northwest India, where Christians are a small minority among a predominantly Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim population. He is the publishing coordinator of the daily Upper Room devotional guide in the Kuki, Meitei, Vaiphei and Zomi languages through the Kuki Christian Church, a collective of hundreds of Christian churches of northeast India, Myanmar and Bhutan. The Kuki Christian Church is in the city of Imphal, Manipur, India. Manipur is in northeast India and bordered on the east by Myanmar (Burma).

On March 9, several thousand people, including church leaders, participated in massive rallies and marches in Saikul, Churachandpur and Moreh, India, demanding Lunkim’s release, and a request was made for the state government to intervene.

“By such an amazing answer to prayer, we can now continue the work that Dr. Lunkim started by again providing the Upper Room Devotional Guide to that troubled region of India,” said the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive of the Board of Discipleship. “The devotional guide is central to our work, and (we) thank God for its effect on the millions it touches.”

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

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