By ELIZABETH VUVU
A FEAST of honour was held recently in East New Britain in remembrance of the founder of Covenant Ministries International and former Northern Governor Pastor Suckling Tamanabae.
The late Ps Tamanabae was a spiritual father to many Christians in ENB and the nation. He passed away on July 14 at the Port Moresby General Hospital after a short illness.
Members of 35 clusters of churches came from the entire length and breadth of ENB to celebrate the life and legacy of an apostle of God who had an impact on thousands of lives across the province and the nation.
The feast organised by Ps Gershon Passingan was held at Malapau just outside of Kokopo town on Oct 25. It was attended by the wife of late Ps Tamanabae, Mama Helen, deputy governor Cosmas Bauk, ENB Council of Churches chairman Allan Kinkin and other prominent leaders in the province.
It was indeed a significant occasion as it was done the Tolai ritual referred to as Balaguan where there is distribution of shell money or tabu and food. This act of distribution helps to ensure passage of the soul into the “abode of spirits”.
The ritual ceremony was different this time; it also included male choirs from several United Church circuits belting out soulful tunes to flavour the occasion, and vibrant performances from youths under the ministry.
The late Ps Tamanabae and his wife Mama Helen spent 18 years in ENB. He was referred to as Baba Tamanabae which in a Northen language means papa or father.
Ps Gershon recalls: “Ps Tamanabae had a passion not only in establishing the church but to raise sons that are members of the church to use their God-given skills and make something of themselves in the society.
“In 2002 when Ps Tamanabae arrived, he had a different perception. He chose not to only raise religious people to preach the word of God and establish churches but deep in his heart, he wanted to groom the new generation with a new way of thinking like venturing into business,” Ps Gershon said.
And so, with the teachings they received from the late Ps Tamanabe, educated elites in ENB charted the way forward and the testimony is schools being established all over the province under the Covenant Ministry International. The provincial education division has committed to supporting these schools.
Also, through its community transformation initiative, the ministry is going into areas that lack government services and need development.
ENB deputy governor Bauk and Dr Samson Laup are among many that were trained by the late Ps Tamanabae.
The late Ps Tamanabae showed that he had a heart for the people as normally he would just train church pastors and priests to take lead in churches and to preach the word of God.
Ps Gershon added: “Holistically he wanted sons to rise up and go out into the communities and make business for themselves because with the Word of God today it is hard to get people to go to church so he wanted sons to go out into spheres of influence with the gospel.
“So the feast is to honour him as amelem in the Kuanua or person of importance who could raise a nobody from the streets and make him somebody,” he said.
Ps Gershon made a special call to the Government and organised churches to honour and respect pioneers or leaders who have contributed immensely to the development of this nation.
He said churches were not just for Christians to be filled with scriptures and be liabilities in the communities but we must contribute in nation-building.
“I call upon all Christian believers, sons and daughters of God to stand firm in your faith in whatever field of work you are in to manifest God there; never forget that’s your pulpit. Are we not tired of seeing our society deteriorate in moral values?” Ps Gershon stressed.
Expressing similar sentiments, Bauk said Baba Tamanabae was still part of the lives of the people of ENB through his contributions.
Bauk thanked Mama Helen and expressed belated condolence for her late husband who had been a mentor and had a hand in the province and at the same time touched the very foundation that built governance and structures in ENB.
“Following your vision and dream that God gave you 18 years ago, you did not hesitate to come to ENB.
“That is why this province is privileged to have a deputy governor talking to you like this,” Bauk told Mama Helen.
- Elizabeth Vuvu is a freelance writer.