By AILEEN KWARAGU
REVEREND Oika Gabutu uses the Bible verse from Matthew 6:33 as a guide to his pastoral duties.
It says: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the things shall be added upon you.”
Rev Oika, 62, or Tama as some call him, is the superintendent minister of United Church West Port Moresby circuit, rated one of the church’s top posts.
He is married to beautiful wife Marama Kisa Gabutu of Gulf. They have six children and 21 grandchildren.
He is from Baruni in the Port Moresby North-west electorate, the third eldest in a family of eight boys and two girls.
His late dad Gabutu Gaudi was a magistrate. His late mother Mabata Maino was a housewife.
He pays tribute to his parents who guided him with words of wisdom, imparted to him knowledge, love and care.
“I was a village boy but my parents raised me to be who I am today. And I thank God for blessing me with them.”
He completed in 1970 primary education at the Baruni Primary School. He attended the Badiagwa High School from 1971 to 1974.
He then worked for the Department of Social Development and Home Affairs.
“I never seriously thought of taking up theology although the thought had crossed my mind once because of my parents’ commitment to the church.”
In 1976, he attended the Rorongo Theological College in Rabaul for a Diploma in Theology programme.
In 1982, he was posted to the Popondetta circuits of the PNG United Church.
He returned to Rorongo in 1994 to pursue a degree in theology programme.
“It was God’s call so I went back to get my degree.”
In 2000, Rev Oika returned to pastoral work and was appointed as the Superintendent Minister of the Morobe circuit in 2021.
“My wife and I committed ourselves to delivering what we learnt from the college and God had graced us with top posts since.”
From 2004, he held the post of Bishop of the United Church urban region for six years.
“ I was a village boy but my parents raised me to be who I am today. And I thank God for blessing me with them.”
He then served for four years as secretary of the United Church.
From 2014 to 2017, he was the chaplain of the University of Papua New Guinea while continuing as a pastor of the United Church.
He describes his work as a pastor as one driven through motivation and determination.
“Growing up, I always admired the way pastors preached in church, especially the way they prepare and present their sermons. That was my inspiration all along.
“The other thing was the way laymen carried out church work although they had other things to do. Their faithfulness to the church impressed me.”
He was inducted as Superintendent Minister of the Port Moresby West circuit at the Baruni United Church in 2018.
Rev Oika has travelled to others parts of country and the Pacific especially to Fiji as part of the United Church assembly.
He thanks God for his life and family.
His advice to aspiring pastors is to concentrate on God’s work, be open-minded and humble. And of course “seek first God’s Kingdom”.