Serving youth in Papua New Guinea
Imagine a country where only 3% of the population is aged over 65: a country with few grandparents. A country of stark contrasts: of beautiful, green, fertile valleys, and towering mountains, and filthy roadside villages with rotting mounds of rubbish. A country where half the population is made up of children and teenagers, but where churches have very little in the way of ministry towards young people.
Welcome to Papua New Guinea.
My name is Avril, and together with 12 other staff and volunteers from Youthworks and St George North Anglican Church (SNAC), we make up the short-term mission team currently at Mt Hagen in the Central Highlands of PNG. We are here at the invitation of the Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC) to present a ministry training intensive ‘fully focused’ on children and youth. This is the first of a four-part blog series, chronicling our experiences here in PNG as we seek to teach the Bible students how to be more effective in reaching children with the gospel.
This is my first mission trip, and first time to a third-world country, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having spent our first few days in orientation and celebrating Easter with the community, I couldn’t have imagined it would be this amazing. The openness and generosity of the local people, and their desire to meet us and get to know us has really struck me. The ministry students especially are just so thankful that we are here and that we would fellowship and partner with them in the gospel.
On Good Friday, we split into groups and had the opportunity to share a meal and Communion with the various denominational groups within the college. I noticed Papua New Guineans love to pile their dinner high on their plate, with dessert on top (in this instance, popcorn), and then proceed to eat it all together. I can’t wait to bring that custom home!
The real highlight though was remembering that while we come from far away and are so different, we share a common bond and are united through Christ. We are a part of a global family made possible through the blood of Jesus, and it was very special to share the fellowship of communion together.
One woman I met, Leah, had such a heart for reaching children with the gospel and was really excited that we are here. She is looking forward to us sharing our knowledge with her, and her sharing some things with us, so that together we might do great things for God. I’m really excited to be getting alongside her and listening to more of her story and how she wants to grow her skills, so that, by God’s grace, we might be able to bless her in some way for her future ministry. All of the team are looking forward to getting to know the students better, and getting stuck into the teaching next week. We will have opportunities to visit local villages and schools with the students, watching and coaching them as they put what they are learning into practice.
Please pray that God will use the gifts of the team to bless the students in any way we can, so that their future ministries will be fully focused on the children of PNG for Christ.