In 2020, a year when most of the world ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 crisis, small groups flourished in Papua New Guinea.
The Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission (EHSM) is one of the missions that experienced tremendous growth in new members, with 5,189 small groups starting in 2019 to 2020. Nearly 100,000 people were involved in these groups, and there were 13,378 baptisms in 2020.
While international speakers were unable to attend last year’s planned Papua New Guinea for Christ evangelistic campaign due to the pandemic, local pastors went ahead and conducted programs. Small groups proliferated throughout the region.
“A lot of churches and communities were looking forward to [Papua New Guinea for Christ],” EHSM president Joanis Fezamo said. “Great preparations were underway.… Everyone was sensing that something big was going to happen following this program. However, the unexpected [happened], unplanned COVID-19.
“But we must not be discouraged…. All things good or bad happen for our good, God knows that. Despite the pandemic crisis, the small group movement is strong, and company churches are emerging from these cell groups.
“Many see coronavirus negatively; however, it was a blessing to the church [in Papua New Guinea]. EHSM was proactive in addressing this problem. Within this pandemic period, the growth was enormous. Praise be to God.”
Discipleship training by the South Pacific Division’s Discipleship Ministry Team in 2018 and 2019 proved invaluable.
“We see the discipleship training conducted in the Papua New Guinea Union Mission as messengers sent by God to prepare His church in the Pacific for the pandemic crisis,” Fezamo said.
“We are encouraging our big churches to close the door and go into small cell groups. This is the way to make disciples for Jesus. If all missions in the Papua New Guinea Union Mission champion small-group ministries, the results will be enormous.”