Thanksgiving with a difference

Women’s fellowship members ready to welcome the ‘special guests’.
Some of the guests seated

THE United Church Upper Mendi Circuit in Southern Highlands is only four years old, yet it is trying out some radical church programmes. One such program was their recently held Thanksgiving celebration.
On Sunday, Aug 11, the Upper Mendi Circuit, which comprises of five local congregations, decided to try something different – they invited the “outcasts and marginalised” in their community to come and be their special guests of honour! Emulating the Biblical parable told by the Lord Jesus (Luke 14: 13ff), invitations were given to 16 people in their local community who are known to be outcasts, misfits, or just plain people who do not go to church for one reason or another. But when the news got around, over 30 people came. These were all members of the local Tunjup Tribe. Some were known trouble makers or drug addicts, while others were young married couples. One thing was the same – they all were not a part of any church.
That morning, these special guests arrived, all neatly attired for the occasion. They were ushered in like VIPs and welcomed by the women’s fellowship members who adorned them with leis and seated them in their reserved seats. The normal celebrations began, first with a powerful presentation of the Word of God by Circuit Minister, Rev Komuna Sogam. The minister spoke about the love of God which knows no barrier, regards no sin as too dark, and makes no distinction between people. He challenged Christians to look around and see those in need, and to do something about it. The message touched the heart of these special guests who were not only hearing about God’s love, but were seeing it practically demonstrated.
After the speeches and other presentations, a sumptuous meal was served. There was so much food to go around as all the parishioners from the five congregations brought in their respective contributions. As the programme drew to a close, many visitors shed a tear, saying this was the first time they had been accorded such treatment. They sincerely thanked the circuit for showing them the love of God.
Circuit Minister Rev Sogam challenged churches to get practical in showing God’s love. “We run crusades, which are very necessary, but we only care about people coming out to the front. Maybe we should start to care about their livelihood, about their well-being, and how we can meet their deep felt needs”, he said. “When we start loving people, changes will take place”.
This visionary leader is now planning the next program for his circuit. “In December, we will be inviting the disabled and crippled members of our community. We want to show them that God loves them too and that the Church can give them a good day to come away from their troubles and enjoy a happy time in God’s presence”, he said.

  • Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.

Girls Brigade celebrates 20 years

FROM its humble beginning on Aug 22 in 1999, the Girls Brigade (GB) 1st Koki Company celebrated its 20 years of Christian mission two weeks ago.
The three-day event was observed at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (GSLC) grounds in Port Moresby. It began with the official opening on Friday evening, followed by main activities on Saturday and ended with the closing on Sunday. Those present included invited guests, members of other Girls Brigade Companies in NCD from the Baptist Church, Christian Revival Crusade (CRC), and the Emmanuel Lutheran Church, parents and congregation members.
There were number of activities organised to mark the occasion ranging from creative dances, song items, miming/drama presentation, photo display of activities conducted by the group over the years wrapping up with presentation of awards to the girls in their respective categories.
Reflecting on the journey that Girls Brigade 1st Koki Company has made this far, Reverend Qogi Zongoreng who was the congregation pastor during the inception of the programme said it has been a remarkable progress evident in the manner how some of these young girls have developed and acquired important skills in life, one of them is gaining confidence to do things especially public speaking.
“I believe as we celebrate its obvious we have achieved something which should motivate us to do more to grow this ministry”, he added.
Some of the pioneers and senior GB members who shared their experiences during the occasion, spoke highly of how they have benefited from the program. Amongst them was Dange Barziring who was one of the first to join GB 1st Koki Company.
“For me, joining Girls Brigade as a little girl back then has built me up to be confident and helped me to come out and be more open, know my values in life and all the others will fall in place’’, Miss Barziring said.
As a young woman and being aware of many issues that are affecting women and girls in PNG, Dange says one of the important lessons in life she’s learnt through GB is self-value.
“Often we blame it on peer pressure ( and other factors) but if you value yourself, you will be able to look at life from a positive perspective, accept yourself as who you are and this will help guide some of the important decisions you make in life,” she added.

Members of the Girls Brigade 1st Koki Company in front of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Girls Brigade is an international and interdenominational youth organisation founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1893. Its Motto is: Seek, Serve and Follow Christ with the aim to help girls become followers of Lord Jesus, and through self-control, reverence and sense of responsibility to fine true enrichment in life.
After being introduced to PNG in the 1960s by wives of early missionaries and other expatriates, there are more than 10 Girls Brigade companies in PNG including GB 1st Koki Company.
For the Good Sheppard Lutheran Church to take on the GB programme as a new initiative in 1999 was indeed a challenge especially considering some of church’s teachings and perceptions. However, 20 years on GSLC does not has regret that bold stand and leadership in its decision to embrace the programe.
“This is one programme that looks at positive upbringing of a young girl specially at an early age to be disciplined, gain confidence, and to show respect,’’ Rev Qogi said.
National Commissioner of PNG Girls Brigade Powe Barziring who also expressed similar sentiment said GB encourages young girls to value life as well as prepare them to be responsible and goods leaders in the future.
“Some of these qualities they learn, they are encouraged to go back and help their families,” the commissioner said.
The Girls Brigade is one of the active ministries within GSLC besides Women’s Fellowship, Youth, Music, and Choir.
It meets every Saturday morning to implement its programmes categorised under the four thematic areas including Physical, Spiritual, Educational and Social.
The physical activities cover mainly marching, learning of creative dances/miming, and sports while the spiritual aspect focuses on Bible studies, Bible recitation, and general spiritual guidance. The educational component of the programme looks at some of life skills activities such as sewing, baking, arts and craft while the social part is to do with outreach activities such as camping and socializing with other girls through combine fellowship activities etc.
Whilst this has been a positive journey for Girls Brigade 1st Koki Company, its captain Habe Anengo says its main challenge is although the program is generating a lot of interests from girls it’s their parents who really need to support them.
Another big challenge especially for the Lutheran Church is despite the success of this program and the positive impact on the lives of young girls, only churches in three suburbs (Towamo, Gerehu and Koki)in NCD have adopted the GB programme.
The Girls Brigade 1st Koki Company would like to sincerely thank all those who have contributed to the success of this programme over the years, mainly the GSLC congregation, past and present congregation pastors, parents, individuals and others.

  • Frieda Taimbari is a freelance writer.

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