Coronavirus risk forces change to ‘PNG for Christ’ initiative

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(Credit: Wes Tolhurst)

Preachers from other parts of the South Pacific Division (SPD) will no longer be going to Papua New Guinea for the scheduled “PNG for Christ” TMI Harvest program scheduled for May 1-16.

SPD officers consulted with Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM) officers about the inherent risks of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the difficult decision.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church values health and wellbeing and we did not want to put anyone’s health at risk by possible exposure to the coronavirus by travel and meeting in large groups,” SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend said.

PNGUM will work with their Mission and Conference leaders with direct input from the PNG government to decide whether the meetings go ahead in May. They may utilise local preachers instead of the international guests but will only do so if this is endorsed by the PNG government. The whole event may be postponed to a later time. However, the Church in PNG will continue to meet in small groups and use the Discovery Bible Reading methods to share and consolidate faith in Jesus and His teachings.

“This decision not to have other SPD preachers come to PNG will cause much disappointment for the PNG Church because they were looking forward to hosting up to 130 preachers,” Pastor Townend said.

“Also, the Church in PNG has been growing substantially, social justice activities have prepared the soil, and Discovery Bible Reading groups and the new Adventist Hope FM radio have sowed the seed and there are thousands of people ready to be challenged to baptism and a life of discipleship with Jesus.  Those who were planning to go to PNG in May will be disappointed as they will miss seeing the vibrant and thriving disciple-making movement that is happening in PNG.”

The SPD Institute of Public Evangelism (IPE) will work with PNGUM and all the Church entities in the SPD and will plan to send the 130 preachers from around the SPD to PNG at some future time to present the gospel and three angels’ messages.