By MARJORIE FINKEO
Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
This is exactly what a husband-and-wife team from the United Pentecostal Church is doing, where the gospel may be needed the most – in a prison.
Reverend Vali Lalai, 68, of Wairavanua village in Abau district, Central, and Reverend Boio Lalai, 43, of Tatana village in the National Capital District, have been running a Bible School inside the country’s largest prison at Bomana, Port Moresby, for the second year now.
It is already bearing fruit. Acting prison commander Chief Inspector Dimon Gah and his offers have noticed a significant change in the attitude and respect for authority among the prisoners.
In November this year, 26 inmates will be graduating with a Diploma in Theological Studies at Bomana.
They are being trained by teachers from the church.
Vali married Boio in 2003 after his first wife left. He had started his pastoral work in 1993. The couple covered almost all the villages in Central before retiring in 2005.
They have seven daughters and four sons. The eldest is 23 and the youngest three. They now also have four grandchildren.
They vividly remembered the day in 2017 when they first walked into the prison at the invitation of other ministers. They saw the need for prisoners to know the Lord Jesus Christ and understand the Bible.
“ We saw them trying so hard. We could see that there was a call from Jesus to take the ministry into the lives of prisoners.”
“We saw them trying so hard. We could see that there was a call from Jesus to take the ministry into the lives of prisoners.”
From January to June that year, the couple and other church leaders fasted every Wednesday, praying and seeking God’s to what they could do for the prisoners.
On June 29 and 30, the team held a fellowship at Bomana, inviting everyone including then Governor-General, the late Sir Michael Ogio. He however could not make it.
“We did not give up. We had our prayer points that he (Sir Michael) would witness our next crusade. We did not give up until he visited Bomana and saw everything we had been doing.”
On Christmas Day in 2018, they submitted a proposal for a Bible School to Correctional Services Commissioner Stephen Pokanis at Bomana.
On March 3 last year, the programme was finally rolled out with a K62,400 funding from the prison department. The 17 courses offered covering Term One and Term will be completed in October, before the graduation in November.
The Bomana Bible School is being included in the United Pentecostal Church International’s Global Theological Studies involving 437 colleges around the world. The headquarters of UPCI is in Goroka. Graduating students will be eligible to apply for degree in the United States of America. The courses studied are basic doctrine, bible introduction, spiritual growth, victorious living, life of Christ, new and old testaments, destiny of the world, spiritual living of leaders, and child evangelism.
Boio believes the training is bearing fruit.
“When they finish their terms in prison, the pastors (inmates who have graduated) can always come back and take up the position of prison chaplain, run church programmes, spread the gospel in Central villages that are currently short of pastors.”
The husband-wife team is happy that they are able to continue spreading the Word of God to those who need it most. They are only fulfilling the Lord’s call in the Bible (Matthew 28:19).