When a woman approached Simon Peter and said “this fellow was with Jesus”, it was a very challenging identification. He didn’t want to be known as one of Jesus’ disciples because he could be crucified as well. He was at a crossroads.
I’m writing this on my first trip to Australia. When I went shopping, I noticed some kids were staring at me. I’m visible in Australia, I stand out. If you come to PNG, you are visible. Simon Peter was caught out. His name was not known but where you belong is visible, no matter what you do. As a church sometimes, we can try to hide ourselves, but we should be visible as well. One of the churches I visited recently was running an evangelistic program during the evenings. But during the day they would visit the community. They built-up the community marketplace, built toilets, did gardening for people—even provided small things like soap and second-hand clothes. As a result, they formed a small group that eventually became a church. We have 6000 house churches across PNG that need to be converted into company churches.
We have a lot of challenges to get this done but we plan to plant churches in all the villages in PNG in the next 5 to 10 years.
The identity of Seventh-day Adventists in PNG is very strong. When our identity and belonging is not visible, members lack engagement in the mission of the Church. We must continue to keep the identity of the Adventist Church clear. We say our identity is keeping the 10 commandments and testimony of Christ and that is good in our preaching.
Yet Matthew 25:35,36 says when we reach heaven, it won’t be about the best sermon we preach, how well we dress but how we touched lives. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Our identity is to be charitable. Are we really a charitable organisation? This is our strong identity as people who love God. This is my prayer. The Church in the SPD is blessed with different people, cultures and countries but we are a community of believers coming together to prepare people for His coming.