The Adventist Aviation plane recently flew me, with other PNG Church leaders, along the border of PNG and West Papua (Indonesia). The purpose of the four-day trip was to see how the Church in PNG could help the Church in West Papua.
Today there are more than 300,000 Seventh-day Adventists in PNG and only 40,000 in West Papua. Although PNG speaks Tok Pidgin and West Papua Bahasa, and the governments are different, there are still many cultural similarities. Following Paul’s counsel in Romans 15:1-6 that the stronger should help the weak, PNGUM desire to support the West Papua Mission even though we are crossing Church division boundaries. West Papua is part of the Southern Asia Pacific Division (SSD).
I was challenged as I listened to a VIA (Volunteers in Action) worker from Amanab tell of his one-day walking trips into West Papua to give Bible studies to the few scattered believers there.
Then, amazed at some lay people from Tomubil, PNG, who have started a church in West Papua—allowing the West Papuans to do the baptisms and receive the tithes and offerings. The PNG people are capturing the vision to reach beyond their borders—even though it costs them.
All over PNG the people are praying for God’s work to be strengthened and grow in West Papua. The church people along the border value the prayers. They are asking for Bible and health picture rolls, godpods, Bibles in Tok Pidgin and Bahasa, and more Bible and health workers.
The SPD and PNGUM will support their efforts. All of us can support the growing disciple-making movement in our region—across the road or across the office if not across the border.
The Australian Union is also supporting the fledgling Church in East Timor (also in the SSD). A group from Sydney has just returned from a community service and evangelistic trip there. SSD is very thankful for the support of the SPD in their territory.