Lifetime of friendship builds a church

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Since his retirement in 1984, 87-year-old Pastor Lui Oli has walked three kilometres each way every Sabbath, from his village of Irupara to the neighbouring village. His mission has been to foster the fledging Adventist church in the large mainly United church village of Hula, about 120 kilometres east of Port Moresby.

Three years ago, Pastor Lui realised that the little tin roofed shelter was too small for the growing membership, so wrote to his dear friend of 48 years, Pastor John Richardson asking if he could assist with some fundraising for a new church building. 

Three years ago, Pastor Lui realised that the little tin roofed shelter was too small for the growing membership...

The letter was received around the time of Pastor Richardson’s wife Dorothy’s funeral and the family decided to take on the Hula church as a family project. Attendees at her funeral service were invited to contribute rather than purchase flowers.

Over the next several months the Richardson family set aside funds and son, Dale, raised considerable funds from the generous members of his local Port Macquarie church. More than $A26,000 was raised in total and given to the Central Papuan Conference (CPC) for the project. The CPC also supported the building with a contribution of $A7000.

For the last year, Pastor Lui’s son, Gideon, has been coordinating the building project. His youngest brother, Iga, took numerous two- hour trips down the coast to bring the supplies to the village. A retired “mission” builder, David Kana, was hired to supervise the building of the church. He was assisted by local church volunteers and the Pacific Adventist University maintenance team came to assist on several Sundays.

Although some concreting and painting is yet to be completed, the church was official opened with more than 500 in attendance from the community. 

Pastor Andrew Lukale, General Secretary of CPC represented the conference and took the dedicatory sermon and prayer. Pastor Richardson sent two of his sons, Roy and Dale, to represent him, as he is unable to travel due to age. Dale presented a picture of his parents to Pastor Lui and Roy read out the letter Pastor Richardson had written to Pastor Lui telling of his long lasting friendship with the Oli family since they started working together in the Gulf of Papua in 1962.  Dale also recalled the time as a three-year-old, when he fell overboard from the mission ship, Uraheni, and of Pastor Lui diving into the ocean and saving his life.

Gideon Oli gave a financial report and then disbanded the building committee and handed the church key over to the local pastor and head elder. In appreciation for their hard work, Roy and Dale presented a Bible each to Mr Lui and Mr Kana.  

A plaque will soon be placed on the church which says: Hula Adventist Church
Opened on May 24 2010
This church building was made possible though the long time
friendship of the John Richardson and the Lui Oli families.
To God be the Glory

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