South Pacific Division president Glenn Townend recently visited two remote districts in the Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission (EHSM) of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and expressed happiness at the high number of small groups formed during the onset of COVID-19.
Townend and church leaders from PNG visited Unavi district in Eastern Highlands and Karimui district in Simbu on August 17, 2022. They flew on the mission plane — Adventist Aviation Services — to both areas. Unavi is the seventeenth and newest district in EHSM. Karimui is the farthest distance. Both are inaccessible by road.
In Unavi, Townend thanked the church members for growing small groups and urged them to be thankful to God and to pray always.
“I am happy with the new Unavi district. You have 10 churches but have 28 company churches,” he said. “Many are ready to be organized, and you have many small groups that are reaching all kinds of people. Thank you, thank you.”
Townend shared what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
“We must be happy at all times. At all times we must pray,” he said. “I stayed at home for three years. I did not travel due to COVID-19. But God did something wonderful. The church grew in PNG and in other parts of the Pacific. Although we from the SPD did not visit, God was at work. We must be happy because we helped God. You must trust in God.”
Unavi district was created three years ago. There are 10 organized churches, 20 company churches, 136 small groups, 2,887 baptized members, and 4,867 Sabbath School members in the area.
Meanwhile, in Karimui, Townend also expressed satisfaction over the district’s church-growth report and encouraged the members to believe in the power of Jesus.
He told the people who gathered at Tobaiya Adventist Primary School a story of how he had used prayer and small-group ministry to help a friend know Jesus.
Using this example, he read from 1 Corinthians 2 and also told the people that the “devil will work stronger and be more powerful before Jesus comes.”
“Jesus is more powerful. There is power in Jesus. If we want to change PNG, we must believe in the power of Jesus,” Townend said.
Thirty missionaries work in that mountainous district. From 2019 to 2021, the Karimui district recorded 2,470 baptisms and grew 358 small groups.