The Lord graciously allowed us to visit recently (May 26-June 5) the Hela Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG). I joined Alf Grant (Conference Hall), Michael Chapman (Cooroy), and Jeff Walker (South Oakleigh) for this trip.
The country is immersed in the political campaign for the next election (which was due on the 24th of June) and almost everyone in PNG seems to be taking part in it. Some areas have had unrest and fighting related to the political climate, but thankfully we did not have any problem in the places we normally visit. The Lord protected us and we appreciate the prayers of His people.
This time, we stayed in a house close to Tari, which belongs to a local businessman who rented it to us for much less than what we normally pay at the lodge. This was a real blessing, as we saved not only money but also time every day travelling from there to Erebo and other places. We concentrated our efforts for the first part of the trip around Erebo (where the assembly is) and Tari (for gospel preaching at the markets).
In the morning, we normally had open-air meetings and in the afternoon Bible teaching at the hall. The assembly in Erebo is doing well, and some of the believers are showing real progress in their spiritual lives. However, we have been reminded that the enemy of our souls will always be ready to bring problems among the believers, so we also spent time talking to the elders and some of the believers privately, answering their questions and giving help and advice from the Scriptures. Considering that they are new in their faith, and they never have had any previous assembly experience, it is wonderful to see how the Lord is keeping His testimony in that place. There are some people from the area who are attending the meetings and showing some interest in the things of the Lord, so we pray that they will be truly saved and baptized and added to the assembly.
The gospel meetings in various places were well attended. We preached twice at the markets in Tari, once in a road intersection, and once at the primary school and at the secondary school. Thousands of gospel tracts (in Huli and Pidgin) and several copies of the gospel of Mark (in English, at the secondary school) were distributed and we pray that precious seed will bear fruit for His glory.
We went up to Hiribi for the final three days of our journey. This place is far from Erebo (approximately one hour by car in a bumpy road) and several of the believers live there. When we built the hall in Erebo last year, we gave some sheets of iron to the believers from Hiribi and they used them, along with bush materials, to build a very nice hall. Since December last year they have been gathering there, waiting to start the Breaking of Bread.
We went to Hiribi on Friday and we were impressed when we saw the new hall. They killed a pig and cooked it for a traditional meal and then we had a ministry meeting in the afternoon. They gave us a hut to sleep in, and that was the first time we spent the night with local believers in their own place. The next morning Alf went with the vehicle to Erebo to bring some of the believers for a day of meetings in Hiribi. Some of the men walked for approximately three hours through the jungle to leave room in the car for others. We had one meeting in the morning and one in the afternoon. It was a joyful day with the believers from these two places. May the Lord preserve the unity among these two young assemblies.
In the evening Michael took the believers from Erebo back to their place and I went with them. Considering the short time we had with them, I felt exercised to go back to Erebo to be with them for the Breaking of Bread, and to help them a bit more. Alf, Michael, and Jeff stayed in Hiribi and joined the believers on the next day for the first Breaking of Bread. After the meeting in Hiribi, they came to Erebo to pick me up and we continued to Hagen and the next day we travelled back to Australia.
We thank you for your prayers for our trip and also for the work in the Hela province, Papua New Guinea. Remember especially the two assemblies, that they may be faithful to the Lord and that the testimony will increase. Also pray the Lord of the Harvest, that He will send forth laborers into that part of His harvest.