Things I learned at PNG for Christ 

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It has been an incredible blessing to witness firsthand the amazing impact of PNG for Christ. I’ve learned a few things that have strengthened and affirmed my own faith journey. 

Ministry to the least of these: The mega health clinic was a powerful way to begin the nationwide proclamation of the Adventist message. In talking to PNG church leaders, there is a recognition that retention and nurturing start with making sure the needy and disadvantaged are taken care of. Christ healed the body and then He preached and the Church in PNG is following His example. Where can I serve my community?

God still works miracles: Stories of God working in hearts and lives will come out of Papua New Guinea for months and possibly years to come. But on Facebook and in the chat groups I’ve been monitoring, I’ve seen some amazing reports. Sometimes it’s tempting to think that the Holy Spirit finished working miracles at the close of the book of Acts. Some I’d like to save for future Record articles, but Pastor Neil Thompson from Avondale (see page 9 for more about Avondale’s involvement) witnessed people experiencing healing after prayer at their site near Omaura. Others experienced healing just by attending the mega health clinic, before receiving treatment! At sites where there was no translation, people heard the gospel (preached in English) in their own language. 

Cynicism is not always helpful: Especially in the Western church, we think cynicism or thinking about things logically is the only way to live out our faith with integrity. A large white bird descended low over the crowd of thousands gathered in Goroka. Everyone’s attention, usually so focused and polite, was drawn to this majestic creature. I saw the bird of prey that had caused the unusual behaviour, yet the story quickly went around that it was a sign of God’s presence. Reflecting on the experience, why can’t it be both. A natural phenomenon directed by the Creator of both people and birds. A dove alighting anyone? It’s easy to cite retention issues, logistics or other reasons why something like PNG for Christ wouldn’t work but instead, the church went in faith and has had a huge impact on thousands of lives and the whole country. 

Mission takes commitment: Pastor Mascell James from Vanuatu shared on Facebook about a volunteer missionary who has limited education but looks after four churches in a remote mountain area. Visiting homes, with a picture roll, he tells people about Jesus. He walked a day or two to get to the site at Pangia and brought 20 people he had prepared for baptism. Another story that particularly stood out to me was one that I saw shared by one of our preachers on Facebook. He reported that a teacher had left his employment to chair the organising committee in his area. For the past two years he has been working to bring the program together, trusting in God rather than a paycheque, while he works for PNG for Christ. Stories of commitment like these two could be told by the thousands, just from this program.

Importance of volunteers: Speaking of commitment, every Sabbath, churches across the South Pacific run thanks to countless volunteers. For PNG for Christ, these volunteers were part of the site programs at more than 2000 sites across the country, every day for two weeks! The AV and projectors, security, ushers, those who were driving and guiding the guest speakers. Some camped at the sites to look after equipment. Many had late nights and early mornings. This program could not have been run without all of the church members supporting, inviting and taking part. These faithful people were an integral part of the success of the program.

What a privilege to be part of the South Pacific Division. Mission is in our DNA and in recent years, perhaps we’ve had the missionary ties that bound us loosened by time and convenience. It is time to embrace our mission heritage once again. Hundreds who went to PNG return equipped and inspired for mission. We can learn from PNG for Christ and be inspired for mission in our own spheres of influence. If we accept the call.

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