Translator for Two Generations of GC Presidents Has a Heart for Mission

A retired pastor, Jonathan Wera raises funds to open gospel work in hard-to-reach places.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
Translator for Two Generations of GC Presidents Has a Heart for Mission
Jonathan Wera, who was an interpreter for former General Conference president Neal Wilson (father of current GC president Ted N. C. Wilson) when Wilson visited Papua New Guinea 35 years ago. Now retired from being a pastor, Wera raises funds to support mission projects in places where other missionaries don’t go. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

About 35 years ago, as a young Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Jonathan Wera, 59, was present when then General Conference (GC) president Neal Wilson visited Papua New Guinea. He was one of the interpreters translating Wilson’s messages into Tok Pisin, the lingua franca, along with English, of many Papuans.

The recent Revelation of Hope evangelistic meetings in Minj, Jiwaka Province, marked a milestone in Wera’s life. As a retired pastor and evangelist, Wera was selected to interpret current GC president Ted N. C. Wilson’s messages into the language millions across PNG can understand.

The meetings in Minj are part of the PNG for Christ 2024 initiative that had thousands of Adventist preaching at venues across that South Pacific nation. The major evangelistic push has enlisted the combined efforts of Adventist World Radio, the South Pacific Division, the Papua New Guinea Union Mission, local conferences and missions, and local churches. “Everyone, absolutely everyone doing something for Jesus,” participants and volunteers state, grinning widely. “Every one of us has stated, ‘I Will Go.’ ”

In 2024, retired pastor Jonathan Wera is translating the preaching messages of current General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson into Tok Pisin. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Where Others Don’t Go

Away from the spotlight, Wera is much more than a retired pastor and an occasional translator. With a decades-old passion for the gospel mission, Wera decided to take an early retirement and devote his time to outreach and mission initiatives in places where other missionaries don’t go.

He has been raising funds to carry out missionary projects in isolated villages near Papua New Guinea’s border with Indonesia. “Those are unreached areas, where the government generally does not provide services,” Wera explained. Residents of those villages along the border with Indonesia lack the most basic amenities, he acknowledges.

Facing such daunting challenges hasn’t discouraged Wera. On the contrary, he has devoted his time, efforts, and funds as a retired pastor to help those who most need it. He also knocks on doors of local churches and people with a heart for the least of these. And he engages in money-making activities to fund part of his projects.

“I raise funds and travel to those places to help build church buildings in isolated communities, schools, and health centers as needed,” he reports, “even in those places where residents usually don’t have access to roads or modern means of transportation.”

Wera’s rationale for pushing such initiatives is simple and mission-driven. “My goal is to make the life of the people easier, so in turn, it becomes easier for them to accept the message of Jesus Christ.”

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review