This update is from GCI mission developer Rod Matthews who works in Southern Asia and the South Pacific region.
Papua New Guinea: historic ordinations in the land of the unexpected
Mark Latham, pastoral coordinator for Papua New Guinea (PNG), recently returned from his 22nd visit to the country. He was accompanied by Rod Dean, GCI pastor in Sydney. Over the years, the congregations in Rod’s pastorate have faithfully supported our work in PNG and Rod has mentored Mark in his challenging responsibility. This was Rod’s first trip to PNG, travelling up to our main PNG church on Mt. Wilhelm, more than 6000 ft. up PNG’s highest mountain, which reaches over 14,000 ft. Mark and Rod were warmly received (the welcome group is pictured at right).
After returning to Australia on August 17, Rod wrote a report entitled “The Light on the Hill at Mt. Wilhelm.” Here is an excerpt:
The main purpose of this trip was to celebrate with the church and wider community the ordination of Ben Galwa and Richard Kindi [pictured at right, Ben is on the left]. This was the most anticipated event in the history of our PNG church—the Mt. Wilhelm congregation had been preparing for weeks. A grand mumu [feast] fed the visitors who represented more than seven denominations. Chairman of the village court, doctors, health clinic administrators, councilors and local women’s group representatives. The local MP [Member of Parliament] sent his apologies. Our church is well respected by all.
With the theme of their visit being “Strengthening the Foundations,” Rod and Mark shared their pastoral experiences and reinforced the local pastoral team’s focus on Jesus Christ as center of all aspects of our lives. Special attention was given to the large contingent of youth in the church (about 50 of them, included in the picture of the congregation’s membership, below). The women’s ministry is a pillar in the life, strength and maturity of the congregation, and their work was acknowledged and praised.
At the end of the visit, the congregation’s pastoral team gave Rod and Mark a letter of appreciation to be carried back to Australia, thanking the many people who have contributed so much to the spiritual and physical development of GCI-PNG.
Fiji: celebrating God’s grace and the ordination of an elder
The Christian Camp at Pacific Harbour was once again the site for the annual celebration of our Fijian family’s life together in Christ. The theme, “Celebrating God’s Amazing Grace” permeated the event’s messages and activities. Most of GCI’s members in Fiji (who live all over the islands) were able to stay on site (the group is pictured below).
Meals were provided by rotating crews of members so that the members could eat together (see picture at right). Lovely “home cooked” meals were provided, including “lovo”—a traditional meal of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in an underground pit.
A highlight of this year’s gathering was the ordination to elder of long-time Suva member, Jope Nalequa Uqeuqe (pictured at left). His ordination reflected his long and faithful service to the church in Fiji and a need for an elder to assist Pastor Isei Colati.
Other highlights were the baptism of Jason Raki; the blessing of a little child, Azariah Jesse James; special presentations for the youth, men and women; an afternoon tea; an “Indian night”; a grand finale event entitled “Island Night”; and one day in which the services were presented entirely in the Fijian language.
At most of the worship services music was provided by the youth. On the last day the choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus a cappella with magnificent harmony. As usual, flower arrangements were supreme works of art, refreshed daily and highlighting the extravaganza of tropical creations with which God has blessed Fiji.