Four small groups formed during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Goroka district, Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission of the Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been encouraged to create more groups so more people can become disciples of Jesus.
During his visit to the Kerefa, Zogohutoka, Orange, and Gonicks small groups, South Pacific Division (SPD) president Glenn Townend thanked the groups for working hard to reach others.
Townend and PNG church leaders visited the small groups after flying back from the remote districts of Unavi and Karimui on August 17, 2022.
The first stop was at Kerefa, a small group formed by members of the Massey Seventh-day Adventist Church. It has 104 members who worship in a semi-permanent building.
Quoting Acts 20:20, Townend encouraged the small group to follow Paul’s example. “Paul had a vision of multiplication. In Ephesus, Paul trained people about the Bible, Jesus, and how to grow churches,” he said.
The next visit was to the Zogohutoka small group, which was formed by members of the Faniufa Seventh-day Adventist Church in March 2020, starting with eight members. Currently, the group has 153 members who worship in a semi-permanent building.
Addressing the group, Townend shared Acts 5:42 and encouraged the members to multiply churches. “You have done a really good thing. God has really done a good job with you. Think about multiplying churches,” he said.
He also encouraged the Orange small group to multiply. Beginning with 35 members from the Kama Adventist church in March 2019, the group has grown to 140 members. They first met in a house, and then as the numbers grew, they moved out into the backyard and worshiped under five orange trees. The members have now built a church and will soon start meetings in their new building.
“You have done a good job, and God has brought something good out of something bad,” Townend said, referring to how, despite COVID-19, the members continued to make disciples. “Orange has seeds, and each of them can become trees. You can multiply too,” he added.
On their last stop, the leaders visited the Gonicks small group, which began in July 2019 with four people worshiping in a house. The group has now grown to 160 members worshiping in a permanent building.
Townend thanked the members for conducting Bible studies, cleaning backyards and streets, and worshiping God together as a group, and urged them to keep multiplying disciples for Jesus.
PNG Union Mission president Malachi Yani said COVID-19 had encouraged Adventists in the country to worship in small groups, which now have grown into churches.
During the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission recorded 14,000 baptisms and built 226 new churches.
Townend’s visit to the region was part of a week-long trip to PNG, which included meetings with church leaders, visits to schools, and a meeting with PNG prime minister James Marape.