General Conference President Meets PNG Prime Minister and Other Leaders

Ted N. C. Wilson meets the country’s leaders, some of whom are also Seventh-day Adventists.

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record
General Conference President Meets PNG Prime Minister and Other Leaders
General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson (fourth from the right) meets Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape (to Wilson’s right) in Port Moresby on April 25. [Photo: Adventist Record]

It was a full day of state visits for General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson on his arrival in Papua New Guinea on April 25, as he met the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House, and the Chief Justice, among other leading figures.

Significantly — or unfortunately, as Speaker Job Pomat joked during his meeting — the public servants in the roles of Prime Minister, Chief Justice, and Speaker of the House are all Seventh-day Adventists.

PNG’s prime minister since 2019, James Marape, welcomed Wilson to the “ends of the earth” in PNG. He asserted that two other world leaders had recently called PNG by that term, a title he associated with Acts 1:8, that the gospel’s spread would start in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and go to the ends of the earth. Wilson shared a promise with the prime minister found in Nahum 1:7, which says, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”

Wilson then traveled on April 26 to Jiwaka Province in the Western Highlands, specifically to Minj, a place where Marape’s parents were missionaries.

The GC president gave to the prime minister a silver, Adventist-branded pen and told Marape he hoped the pen would be useful, whether he was signing his name on forms in office or underlining his Bible.

Also one of Wilson’s entourage, Adventist World Radio (AWR) president Duane McKey, gave the prime minister a copy of the Archaeology and Cultural Background Bible. McKey said that there weren’t too many questions you could ask that “the Bible couldn’t answer.”

After meeting with Marape, Wilson met with Speaker Pomat, Member of Parliament for Manus Open. Wilson was quite taken by a model the speaker had in his reception room, of a proposed monument called a Unity Pillar, which would have the names of all the tribes in PNG, and a base of the leaders, the people, the constitution, and a bottom level or foundation with the Word of God. Sharing a verse for the Speaker, Wilson read from Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” He reminded Pomat that his role was important as a mediator between the two sides in government.

The private meetings were followed by a state luncheon held at Parliament House, where more dignitaries, church employees, and parliamentarians gathered to hear speeches from the prime minister and the GC president, as well as musical items.

After an opening prayer by Lonol Winnie, president of the Central Papua Conference, Pomat welcomed Wilson in PNG style, in the tok pisin language. Pomat told those gathered that the Holy Spirit would help Wilson understand what he said and, when Wilson replied, he claimed that he had understood at least some of what was said.

Wilson challenged attendees with a Bible verse. “This can be your marching orders to help keep order and progress and prosperity for the people of PNG,” he said. “But also for you, for your personal responsibility, whatever [role you hold], God has given you an unbelievable responsibility of representing the government of heaven.” He then read Joshua 1:9. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (KJV).

Marape shared that “the church in PNG is full with abundant talents.” He encouraged all to use the talents they were given. “Some were given the pulpit, [and] I’ve been given a podium,” he said, as he reflected on many world leaders he had met and how even he could use his talents to bring glory to God.

It had already been a big day for Marape, as he attended the dawn service at Isurava, site of a major battle during World War II, on the Kokoda Trail with Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, before being transferred back to Port Moresby. He shared an anecdote about how he assured the Australian prime minister that God would hold the wet weather back so they would make it out of Kokoda on time, because he had to meet Wilson.

During the day, several of PNG’s leaders reflected that it was challenging being seen as Adventists, rather than as people with the roles they fulfill, as it was a great responsibility to carry. But they also acknowledged the privilege it was to serve the country in such a capacity.

A number of times it was claimed by those presenting that about 20 percent of PNG’s parliamentarians are currently Adventists and that the upcoming census would provide a better idea on the number of Adventists in the country.

Parliament House was not the first stop on Wilson’s itinerary.

After arriving early in the morning, Wilson had taken time to rest from his long flight before visiting the Governor General, Sir Bob Bofeng Dadae, at Government House. In the 20-minute visit, Wilson signed the guest book and then conversed with the Governor General in a visit that lasted about 20 minutes.

Wilson expressed his happiness to be in the country and told the Governor General that he hoped Seventh-day Adventists would be the very best citizens for the country of PNG.

After the Governor General visit, Wilson visited the Court House, where he met with the Chief Justice and a number of judges, before moving on to Parliament House.

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record