Bringing the word of God to the unreachable


AN evangelical church is slowly starting its missionary work in the very remote parts of the country and slowly making its way out unlike many mainstream churches that began their work in the major towns and cities and made their way into the rural areas.
The Wesleyan Church of Papua New Guinea is taking a bottom up approach and it was through their strong faith and perseverance that some pioneer missionaries started the work of Christianity in places where the government had not yet set foot and started their work from there. They trekked through mosquito-infested thick jungles and even through areas that had venomous snakes and wild animals, not to mention the impenetrable jungles, to not only bring the word of God to these isolated people but to also bring basic services such as health, and education. These missionaries were some of the first to build rural airstrips that would connect remote places to the outside world.
This was not an easy task for the early missionaries who sacrificed their lives to reach others who are unreached and not exposed to the outside world because of their faith in God.
In their pursuit to get people to come to Christ, many missionaries died from diseases such as malaria while others stayed on and retired very old to return to their countries of origin. Many others died and were buried in PNG.
The Catholics, Lutherans and LMS, now United Church, arrived in the country more than 100 years ago with a handful of Evangelical churches coming in later to serve the same purpose, and hat is to bring the word of God to the masses.
One of them is the Wesleyan Church of Papua New Guinea.
The Wesleyan Church was founded in PNG in May, 1961 by Australian missionaries Reverend Kingsley Ridgway and Walter Hotchkin.
They built first mission stations at Fugwa village in the Koroba district in Hela and slowly spread their wings to other small remote places not reached by the other churches.
In Hela, the church is commended for establishing developments now enjoyed by the rural people which include the Fugwa health center, Fugwa primary school, Fugwa airstrip, and aid posts in Takopi, Yatimali, and Lepani.
The church moved into neighboring Southern highlands in 1963 and established its base in Pangia district. It moved further into the remote Wapsali to establish a church there and at the same time build the Takuru primary school, Wapsali airstrip, Wapsali aid post and Wapsali/Yawiya primary school at the border of Gulf province.
The church spread to other parts of Southern highlands, establishing many churches and at the same time providing other services.
In 1971, the Wesleyan Church branched out into Western highlands and made its base at New Town in Mt Hagen city. Since Mt Hagen is a central location, the church established its headquarter there.
The church later reached out into Jiwaka and established the Wesleyan Bible College at Avi in 1995, then spread to Lae, Port Moresby, Oro and Gulf.
All up, the church has been in the country for 56 years and already making a big impact in the lives of people, both in rural and urban areas.
The church’s biggest educational institution, the Wesleyan Bible College at Avi in Jiwaka has been offering three-year certificate courses in theology, carpentry, computing, and sewing for the past 20 years is now planning to offer diploma courses starting next year.
Principal Andy Kela and his deputy, Pastor Ninde Ole said the College Board also plans to introduce two new courses in agriculture and motor vehicle mechanics.
The college operates on donations from church members, students’ school fees, and individual donations.
While it tries hard to be self-reliant, the college is in need of assistance to build teachers’ houses, computers and learning materials for its students.
Kela said the college not only educates students from its church-based provinces but takes in those from other denominations and other provinces as well.
The institution is a stepping stone for grade 10 and 12 dropouts, who otherwise, would have found it difficult to further their education and bettered their life.