Centre of influence to serve community in Hagen Park

Pastors Richard Jacob and Solomon Paul at the front of Hagen Park church, Mount Hagen.

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Western Highlands Mission (WHM) celebrated a high day of dedications on May 2 with a church, a redevelopment and a new centre of influence all opened by General Conference (GC) president Pastor Ted Wilson.

After officially opening the Togoba 1 church, Pastor Wilson moved to Hagen Park, where he opened the CARE Inn, a safe house and food hall developed to help the church reach out to its community.

Built next to the Hagen Park church, the CARE Inn has 10 rooms to accommodate those fleeing domestic violence. Downstairs, it also has a food hall and preparation area so that it can serve meals to those who are hungry.

The Hagen Park church choir sang a specially composed welcome song to mark the occasion. “Welcome, welcome guest and friends; we gather here at Hagen Park to celebrate the centre of influence building opening,” the choir sang. “To live, to love, to serve the Lord always.”

In attendance were Pastor Ramon Canals, GC Ministerial Association secretary, and his wife Aurora, who takes care of the spouses in ministry. Pastor Canals was preaching at a site nearby.

Becoming a centre of influence means that the Hagen Park church can serve the local community every day of the week. Pastor Wilson unveiled the plaque, cut the ribbon and, after a prayer of dedication, officially opened the facility.

“This centre will help and touch the lives of many people who perhaps would not [otherwise] participate in the wonderful ministry of Jesus,” said Pastor Wilson.

“This precious Adventist Possibilities Ministry centre will have a two-fold purpose. First of all, to meet the needs of those with special needs or challenges and opportunities. Secondly, to enlist their support as part of God’s great church here in Hagen Park church to reach out to other people, telling them that Jesus is coming soon. PNG for Christ, all across this nation, is now proclaiming that wonderful message.”

CARE Inn is an acronym meaning Christ Attitude Reaching Everyone In Need. After the centre was officially opened, the crowd moved to the door of the church, covered by a ribbon and balloon garland, where Pastor Wilson offered another prayer of dedication for the newly expanded and refurbished church. He then cut the ribbon and guests and members filed into the church to the sounds of the choir singing from the front.

WHM secretary Pastor Solomon Paul, who attends Hagen Park church, welcomed the guests for the day and thanked Pastor Wilson for attending. Pastor Paul told the gathered guests that COVID restrictions had resulted in small group meetings and total member involvement. “When they came back to this church, the church could no longer house them all.” That is why the renovations and extensions were needed.

Western Highlands Province supervisor and Hagen Park church pastor Richard Jacob gave a brief history of the Hagen Park church. From the Togoba leper colony started by Australian missionary Len Barnard in 1947, Adventism grew slowly in the area. The first church service was held in 1986, after it was decided to start a church at Hagen Park two years earlier. Today Hagen Park has grown seven churches, 10 company churches and is continuing to experience rapid growth.

Pastor Jacob told the attendees that the idea for the CARE Inn came from the story of the Good Samaritan, who brought the man he was helping to an inn to receive care. “This is a project that will sustain many souls,” he said, while paying tribute to those who “dug deep into their pocket to support this project”. The project cost more than K800,000.

Pastor Wilson then addressed the church, pointing out features of the refurbished facility and the care that had been taken with the flowers and presentation of the church for the day. He thanked those who had built and prepared the church for the dedication.

“What a beautiful campus and representation of God’s witness here in Hagen Park,” Pastor Wilson said. “As we dedicate this church, this CARE inn, we put on the armour of light to be a witness for God in the most powerful way possible.”

He encouraged everyone present to realise the important part they had to play in total member involvement.

Pastor Wilson’s visit was part of the PNG for Christ program, held across Papua New Guinea from April 26 to May 11.

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