By PISAI GUMAR
THE people of Ukata in the border area of Kabwum in Morobe and Raicoast in Madang met for the first time their spiritual leader, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG, Bishop Jack Urame, last week.
Only the fortunate had a privilege of a lifetime to shake the hand of the affable Chimbu man who was recently elected to head the church, the first man from the Highlands region to have done so.
Urame from Dom in Sinasina-Yongomugl, is shepherd to 1.2 million Lutherans in the Kotec, Jabem, Siassi, Madang, Goroka, Simbu, Mt Hagen and Papua districts.
He was invited not only to ordain four new pastors at Ulap mission station but to also experience how field pastors were anointed and sent out into “the wilderness” to live and work among Christians.
Church treasurer Noreo Keindip and Rev Hans Giegere accompanied him.
It was a rare occasion for these people to feel the presence of their spiritual leader who brought to them a sense of peace, love and care for mankind.
Urame’s sermon and post-service speech enlightened hearts and enriched their faith.
However, Urame acknowledged that Ukata people’s geographical isolation made it very difficult to access basic services taken for granted in urban centres.
Access to this part of the world is by North Coast Aviation Ltd or 15km trekking through rugged country from the Wasu coastline.
The cost of a one-way flight from Ukata to Nadzab is K340 and not all locals can afford it.
The church leaders’ visit made the villagers feel honoured.
Having seen the people’s difficulties, especially in accessing health and education services, the bishop urged authorities within the church headquarters in Lae to “unite and work together as a team to serve God, church and mankind”.
“Let us unite and work together; assist me to lift the level of Etep Rural Hospital,” Urame said.
“The status of any service-oriented institution can only be determined by leadership respecting set principles, standards and following set procurement processes.
“Hence any institution is as good as his leadership and management.
“Let us ensure to assist Lutheran Health Services treat the sick right where family support is provided.”
Urame suggested that the church’s education arm should establish a flexible open distance education (FODE) centre to ensure school leavers were given a second chance in their academic endeavours.
By PISAI GUMAR