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Evangelism in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea

There are two ways to get to Kerina Evangelist’s College in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). You can walk for a few days or, thanks to the Ministry Aviation Fellowship, you can hop on a small plane and take a fifteen minute flight to the grassy airstrip halfway up the mountain. After three days in Mount Hagen, where I had woken up to the sound of gunshots one night (“They are just dispersing the mob,” “What mob?!”), it was a relief to head to the village of Tsendiap.

The location of the College is both practical and impractical at the same time. Impractical as it is expensive to maintain, yet practical as potential evangelists must learn to cope with isolation if they are to survive in the remote areas of PNG where they are to spread the Good News. A film maker, Rebecca, travelled with me and we arrived in Tsendiap around lunchtime.

Having worked in India, Cambodia and on the set of Home & Away, there is little that Rebecca hasn’t seen. All the same, as we were welcomed to Kerina with singing and dancing, Rebecca turned to me with tears in her eyes and thanked me for taking her there. The main purpose of our trip was to film, photograph and record all we could in and around the College. As our activities were restricted to daylight, we were often to be found lugging camera gear around villages during the heat of the day. Fortunately, Rebecca always found a small army of volunteers to assist her.

The increasing compliance requirements of organizations such as ABM have made permission forms mandatory nowadays. I could often be seen hot-footing it through a village, chasing the parent of a small child who had innocently been caught on camera. Fortunately, I had helpers of my own who came with me translate the permission forms into Pidgin.

Kerina College is a living testimony to the impact that holistic mission can have. The Chapel is swept and decorated with frangipani before services and the daily devotions amplify God’s presence. God’s grace has rippled outwards into the surrounding village of Tsendiap, where an Anglican Health Service clinic has managed to reduce the number of women and children who die in childbirth. This is in spite of the fact that there is no running water in the Health Centre.

Kerina is blessed with some gifted and devoted teachers. The Principal, Father Richard Sarawamba, has had two years of army training. This is indispensible in helping the ordinands and their wives cope with the food and water shortages that are inevitable in such a remote location. The people of Kerina College and of Tsendiap feel a strong connection to their Australian supporters. They have immense gratitude for the support they receive and know that they are in your prayers, as you are in theirs.

One of the joys of a life in Christ is the closeness that we can have to people like those at Kerina, people who we may never meet, but with whom we are united in God’s mission.  

 

Melany Markham
Communications and Fundraising Manager
October 2010 

 

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