In a year when most of the world ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 crisis, small groups flourished in Papua New Guinea.
The Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission (EHSM) is one of the missions that experienced tremendous growth in new members, with 5189 small groups starting in 2019-20. Nearly 100,000 people were involved in these groups and there were 13,378 baptisms in 2020.
While international speakers were unable to attend last year’s Papua New Guinea for Christ evangelistic campaign due to the pandemic, local pastors went ahead and conducted programs and small groups proliferated.
“A lot of churches and communities were looking forward to [PNG for Christ],” Mission president Pastor Joanis Fezamo said. “Great preparations were underway . . . everyone was sensing that something big was going to happen following this program. However, the unexpected, unplanned COVID-19 [happened].
“But we must not be discouraged . . . All things good or bad happen for our good, God knows that. Despite the pandemic crisis, the small group movement is strong and company churches are emerging from these cell groups.
“Many see coronavirus negatively, however it was a blessing to the Church. EHSM was proactive to address this problem. Within this pandemic period the growth was enormous. Praise be to God.”
Discipleship training by the South Pacific Division’s Discipleship Ministry Team in 2018 and 2019 proved to be invaluable.
“We see the discipleship training conducted in PNGUM as messengers sent by God to prepare His Church in the Pacific for the pandemic crisis,” Pastor Fezamo said.
“We are encouraging our big churches to close the door and go into small cell groups. This is the way to make disciples for Jesus. If all missions in PNGUM champion small group ministries, the results will be enormous.”