18 February 2024

Self-Denial 2024: A calling of love in India

Captains Anthony and Makimi's story

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Captains Anthony and Makimi share their experience working at the Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centre in India for the 2024 Self-Denial Appeal.

This year’s Self-Denial Appeal runs from 4 February to 3 March with a focus on the life-changing impact of officers across the globe. This week we are in Mizoram and Aizawl.

Captain Anthony C Lalrutfela and his wife Captain Makimi Lalnunkimi Sailo live and work in a remote part of Mizoram in eastern India, at the Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centre (ARC). The ARC runs a drug and alcohol treatment programme aimed at helping people who are struggling with addictions. Captains Anthony and Makimi live on site with their young son, Jonny.

Anthony’s role as superintendent, involves looking after general administration, management and spiritual development. Makimi looks after the finances, but also gives pastoral support to staff members. There are places for 20 men at the centre and they stay for four months, during which they get access to counselling and medical support and a full daily programme that includes a series of lectures.

‘In the ARC there’s lots to do, but we give our best in order to properly run this place and our ministry,’ says Captain Makimi. ‘Through the ARC, The Salvation Army is doing wonderful work.

‘Many of the men have been rejected by their families because of their addiction to drugs. It’s not easy to just quit substances like drugs and alcohol. When they come to leave this place, we hope we can help them to become responsible people, so they can have a fresh start to their lives. The Army’s work is global, and I am very thankful that I can contribute through my role as a Salvation Army officer, especially in this very remote corner of the world.’

Everyone’s recovery journey is different, so there’s focused medical support throughout. The staff nurse does a daily check on each resident. ‘This centre, the way I see it, is a place for healing of the body, mind and spirit and that’s key to the work that we do here,’ says Captain Anthony.

The men who come to the ARC are from towns and cities throughout Mizoram. Some are brought by family members or referred by medical clinics, but others are here because they were helped by the Army's street ministry teams.

In the state’s capital city of Aizawl, four hours’ drive north of Mizoram, The Salvation Army has a strong presence, with 69 corps and over 17,000 Salvationists. On Friday nights, the Army’s street ministry teams set up with curry and sweet tea. One team member said, ‘People here have problems with substance abuse. They come to have some food with us, and we preach, we sing, we give pastoral and psychological counselling to those in need.’

A photo of Captains Anthony and Makimi

The sale of alcohol is illegal in Mizoram, but it’s just as easy to get hold of heroin-based drugs, especially the locally named Number Four. One ARC resident openly shared: ‘If the Army’s street ministry team hadn’t found me, I would have stayed on the streets and would probably be dead. The fact that I’m here, it’s changed my life. I’ve been saved, I feel like I’ve received salvation.’

Some residents have nearly completed the rehab programme and will soon leave the centre and head home. Captain Makimi hopes to stay on, saying, ‘We want to be able to continue helping drug users. This is where God has called us to be and what we look forward to.’ 

Although not formally trained in social work, Captain Anthony’s calling is a calling of love, as he explains: ‘My qualifications, my degree is not in this field, but this is where God has called me. The most important qualification is love. I love them with everything in me. There’s nothing fake about it, it’s love that comes from God and I truly love them.’

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