2000 attend women’s congress in PNG

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Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea

The prolonged drought in Papua New Guinea did not stop more than 2000 Seventh-day Adventist women in the Western Highlands Mission (WHM) from attending a five-yearly regional congress last month. 

[We faced] difficulties that threatened the congress. El Nino was the obvious one, with less people working on the campground, a water shortage and so forth, but with prayer and faith in God we’ve come this far.

The participants came from all seven provinces administered by the WHM, including Enga, the home of almost half of the delegates. 

The women were welcomed with flower wreaths and a song from the hosting district as well as a special flag raising and marching exhibition. 

There were several distinguished guests from the Church and community, including Papua New Guinea Union Mission Women’s Ministries director Judy Ponduk. She was accompanied by Dr Agnes Kola, who presented the morning worships, and Judith Nagamisovo, who conducted workshops. Mrs Ponkus told the women they should return home after the congress as “changed persons, women filled with the Holy Spirit”.

Another notable speaker was Enoch Rapenda, a lay representative who encouraged the mothers to cook healthy meals for their families as lifestyle diseases were claiming many lives in PNG, including among educated people.

Three speakers representing the community shared that the venue where the congress was hosted used to be a primary school but was destroyed by tribal fighting. They indirectly asked the Church to re-establish a school there if possible. 

Jacob Koloma further appealed to the local people to “sell their garden produce at a reduced price to the congress delegates, as these people have come in the name of the Lord”. They guaranteed security and also gave the women permission to freely use water, firewood and other natural resources during their seven-day stay. 

WHM president Peter Oli thanked the community and their leaders for their kindness and asked the delegates to take extra care of the campground. “Keep the water and the environment clean. Dispose of rubbish at the appropriate place,” he said.

Women’s Ministries director Aileen Pakao said while there were some large challenges, the congress was a success. “[We faced] difficulties that threatened the congress,” she said. “El Nino was the obvious one, with less people working on the campground, a water shortage and so forth, but with prayer and faith in God we’ve come this far.”

Organisers hired a tipper truck for the full week to fetch and transport water for only K4000. “This is a miracle! We normally don’t pay this amount for a truck doing that kind of work for that long,” Mrs Pakao said. 

Pastor Noah Kianuga and his assistant Belden Joel, who helped with the set-up and administration, admitted the job was beyond their ability to manage with less people. “God was at work with us,” they said.