PRIME Minister James Marape on Tuesday paid tribute to the “great work” of the Lutheran Church in the development of the Papua New Guinea. He also thanked missionaries from all churches in the country, both national and international, who have brought services to the people in rural areas to complement the work of the Government.
In a message that spelt strongly of the uniting force of Christianity and the huge contribution of churches in uniting a very diverse people in nationhood, Prime Minister Marape acknowledged the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) and all churches in the country.
Marape was speaking to thousands of Lutheran faithful who had travelled in to Port Moresby from throughout the country for the 33rd Evangelical Lutheran Church National Synod, held at the Sir John Guise Stadium and hosted by the ELC-PNG’s Papua district.
Marape himself, the son of a pioneer national Seventh-Day Adventist missionary, paid an emotional homage to missionaries who “ran ahead of government workers” before Independence and after Independence, into remote Papua New Guinea to bring God’s Good News and with it, services such as education and health.
“Before the presence of a government worker in many parts of our country, there were missionaries. They walked the length and breadth of our country not for money, fame, or personal earthly prosperity but they walked for love and service to humanity because they were serving the author of Love, Jesus Christ,” Marape said.
“Our country is littered with footprints of missionaries that had left the comfort of their homes overseas, to come into our country; and secondly, those from the coast, who became the first contact for those in our highlands areas.
“I want to pay respects to our churches for making sure that the fundamentals of our country are held together. It is fitting and right to give respect where it is due. Without the Christian perspective, we would be looking from 800 or so different perspectives. It is really the work of Christianity that has united our country at a deeper level, even further than the flag and the Constitution of the country.”
He said with a new generation of leaders coming into office, the Government was now working out policies to move the country more in line with the ideals of Christianity, such as the pronouncement to make PNG a Christian country, and the start of work to reverse the death penalty and install in its place, a maximum penalty as commanded under the 10 Commandments.
The Prime Minister encouraged the ELC-PNG to continue with its services in health and education, and gave an assurance of the Government’s support in this area.
He also mentioned the Lutheran University project, which has been shelved for some time. Marape encouraged the ELC-PNG to work together in unity to get this project off the ground.
“Lutherans, you are the second biggest church. You have a big place. Remain focused on the charter that you established as the Lutheran Church.”
“The Government stands ready to give you the full support as we go into the future.”