By Rev SEIK PITOI
“IT is so easy to talk about unity, even to preach and sing about unity, but to put it in practice is always hard. Genuine Bible-based unity is really needed in our nation,” so says Rev Alu Daniel, a former two-term Chairman of the Port Moresby Ministers’ Fraternal.
Rev Alu, a soft spoken but vibrant elderly pastor of the United Church may have officially stood down from formal pastoral duties, but in discussing the affairs of the church and nation over lunch recently, I found that the elder Christian statesman still packs a punch. His colleagues at the United Church North Port Moresby Circuit (NPMC) refer to him not as “retired”, but “refired.”
From Waiori village in the Marshall Lagoon area,Central, Rev Alu was born on the 27th July, 1948. After high school, he began work in 1972 with the National Bank of Australasia (later to become Bank South Pacific). During that time, he lived with older brother, the late Rev Kara Daniel at Koki. Rev Kara had been appointed as minister of the newly established Gordons United Church, which at that time met for service at the Gordons Police barracks. There, Alu began Christian ministry as a youth leader and Sunday school teacher. Unfortunately, a short time afterwards, Rev Kara passed away. Then, in 1974, Alu got a work transfer to Rabaul.
After Rev Kara’s untimely passing, Alu sensed the call of God upon his own life. He was still with the bank when he began part time lectures as a first year student at Rarongo Theological College in 1977. He resigned at the end of that year, and the following year, did his internship at Kundiawa in Simbu. In 1979, he returned home and married Marama Fa’afafonga, who is of Kelerakwa and Gavuone parentage. In 1980, with his new wife, they travelled back to Rarongo where Rev Daniel continued his studies. He graduated in 1981 and took his first posting in Wewak, East Sepik.
Rev Alu’s passion for unity in the “Body of Christ” was birthed during his first year of ministry in Wewak. There, he met other like-minded pastors from different denominations. One such person was the late Pastor Joseph Maru, who later became the General Superintendent of the PNG Assemblies of God church. His years serving with Rev Maru and other brother pastors saw Rev Alu embrace the move of the Holy Spirit. True to God’s promise in Psalm 133, as the leaders got together and prayed, people got saved. Lives were changed. Soon, the anointing and fire for evangelism became evident in his own ministry as well. He states that since those early days, his love for the “Body” has become firmly entrenched in his life. Even today, he continues to advocate for cooperation, love and respect among the churches.
After the church-required period of 3 years per posting, Rev Alu moved from Wewak to Taraka UC (Lae), Cassowary UC (Lae), then to Koki, Waigani, and Gerehu UC. He served for 3 years in all, except 4 years at Waigani. In 2002, he went on a break from ministry, only to be called up for duty the following year by North Waigani UC. He served as NWUC pastor until formal retirement in 2010. Meanwhile, his dear wife, who had stood beside him throughout the trials and tears of ministry, and who bore their 4 children, was called home to glory on 18th June, 2008.
Rev Alu is a great supporter of the move to place the Bible in National Parliament. He said as a Christian nation, it was only correct to have such an important item placed in the parliament to make a statement that this country is Christian and that it belongs to the God of Israel. However, he was not too carried away by the fact that it was a King James Version, and that it was 400 years old. “That was nice to know,” he said, “but the issue is not just an old Bible on the shelf in the parliament. Rather, it would be better to have it (God’s word) placed in the heart of each of our MPs so it can convict, judge and guide their thoughts and actions.”
Rev Alu was active some years ago on the Fraternal with another United Church minister, late Rev Sione Kami. Rev Sione was also a past chairman of the group. Alu talked about how they met monthly for prayer and encouragement. “Each church took turns at hosting the program. No one church dominated. We had pastors from many denominations and para-church ministries come together,” he said. On some occasions, they collectively organised crusades in the city. Rev Alu sadly lamented that this was missing today.
On his advice to younger pastors, he talked of the need to stay humble at all times, pray always, and seek Godly counsel from older men and women of God. As his colleagues at NPMC can testify, Rev Alu is a man of prayer. On many occasions he challenges the pastors to talk less about each other, but to pray more. He personally makes it his duty to call all his circuit pastors and wives by name as he prays for them daily.
Presently, Rev Alu still helps out with NWUC. He is grateful for all the support NWUC leadership and members have rendered him and his family over the years, especially at the passing of his late wife and of their continued assistance with his health issues.
As he finished off his meal of broiled vegetables and fish, Rev Alu, who together with the nation of Israel will turn 70 in 2018, pointed out a litmus test for fellow advocates of unity – invite a pastor from another denomination to take your pulpit! Want unity? Try it and see.
By Rev SEIK PITOI