By ELLEN TIAMU
CHURCHES function as the central place of instruction and teaching about God and his will for his people. PNG regards itself a Christian country and while many places have a building they can visit to worship, there are still places where a church gathering is held under a tree or at someone’s house. There are other Christian denominations that rent buildings for their Saturday or Sunday services or for when there are special services.
The Salvation Army’s Hohola congregation is one such church that currently doesn’t have a building they can call their own. Sunday services or special times of worship are held at the Salvation Army Training College, also located at Hohola.
The church has a membership of 150, and growing. Church members come from the suburbs of Boroko, Hohola, Waigani, Gerehu, and even Koki.
This has caused the Church Pastor Major David Temine and his Elders to seriously think about having a place of worship of their own. Also, they’d rather that the training college be left to the purpose it was intended for, and not be disturbed.
The team of Church Elders resolved last year that they should start looking seriously at putting up a building for the congregation and decided to kick off fundraising this year. Members of the church were divided into three groups with each group given an annual target of K12,000.
Pastor Temine said before they can put up a building though, the first thing they have to consider is a suitable piece of land.
The Salvation Army’s Hohola Church is a little unique in that there are more young people in the congregation than older ones. Church Elder Borana Rabona said they have programs where young people who live rough on the streets are taken in and given a chance to try to eke out a living.
On the evening of Friday August 25 I joined the Hohola group for one of their fundraising gatherings.
Members of the group were to assemble at their usual church gathering hall for a sing-along until 11 or 12 midnight when they would get some rest for an early morning rise for a walkathon. Some of the younger members of the group had been dropped off at the Sir John Guise Stadium to watch a gospel band perform. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t turn out well and they had difficulty finding their way back to join the group at Hohola.
My friend Barbara’s husband dropped her and me off at about 8.30pm that evening. The singing had already started, and I must say, the singing that night was the best gospel sing-along I’ve ever been to. It seemed everyone was singing for God from the bottom of their hearts. As midnight drew near, bringing Repentance Day closer, nobody in the room seemed to want to retire.
Everyone remained and sang at the top of their lungs until morning. The coffee and tea breaks in between were enjoyable with lots of cakes, scones and bread. At about 7.00 unopened mats and still-folded blankets were packed and everyone moved to the car park for the start of the fundraising walkathon. The route took us from the Hohola training college towards the Murray Barracks roundabout and to the Salvation Army Church at Boroko. By 8am the last of our friends completed the walk.
The walkathon was to raise money for another fundraiser, a beauty quest that was held on Monday this week.
Churches are unique places that instill change in people’s lives, and according to Pastor Temine and Rabona, a church will create an avenue where people can find comfort, peace and love. They agree that while it will take some years for them to raise enough money to start on the building, they have at least made a start.
There are plans for bigger and better fundraising events next year and onwards.
Some people may argue that you can worship in the privacy of your own home, or you don’t need a church to worship. On the other hand though, we cannot be the church, if we don’t go to church.
By ELLEN TIAMU