On mission - Easter in Papua New Guinea
This blog entry was written by PNG mission team member Brendan Moar.
We’ve now crossed the half-way point of our ‘fully focused’ training intensive to the students at Christian Leader's Training College in Papua New Guinea. Since the last blog, we have celebrated Easter with the students, and commenced the training in children’s ministry.
Easter in PNG is very different to Australia. It is not a commercial event. We haven’t heard anything of the Easter Bunny and there has been no chocolate (this may or may not have devastated several team members). Rightly, Easter is celebrated as a spiritual event. There is a lot of joy, and a lot of singing – so much that the Sunday Easter service ran for over 3 hours! Zac Veron preached a great sermon and the team performed a number of items, all of which were very well received.
Then in the afternoon, the team ran a children’s event which included songs with actions, games and a comedy skit with a giant gingerbread man as “Breadabbas”, to help teach the important message of Easter.
We began the children’s ministry training with over 100 theological students and wives on Tuesday morning. Since much of the ministry to children in PNG currently consists of preaching – the same sermon as to the adults – our aim is to teach the students how to write and deliver a good children’s talk. This includes thinking through childhood development and culture, as well as finding the one big idea in a Bible passage to build the talk around.
It has run remarkably well so far (praise God!). We weren’t sure coming in whether we would over or under-estimate the students’ abilities. While different groups have struggled with different things, on the whole, students have successfully wrestled with the material so far. One group commented that their students were surprised at our discipline when it came to selecting children’s activities to go with the passage – you couldn’t just pick anything, it has to fit with the big idea!
A particular highlight for me has been some of the conversations I’ve had with older men. These are guys in their 50’s and 60’s who have been Pastors for a long, long time. To see their humility, firstly in that they are here wanting to learn, but also that they are just so struck by the fact that they and other elders in the clan and in the church have not taken children seriously. To see them feeling rebuked in that and so passionately convicted of the truth and the rightness of that… it can only be a good thing for the future of children’s ministry in PNG.
When chatting with them later, they further confessed the desperate need for discipleship. They themselves were mentored and discipled by clan and church elders when they were young, but this has fallen out of practice in PNG society. Young boys are no longer being taught how to be men. And in particular, they aren’t being taught how to be Christian men. All of these pastors were convicted of the deep need to disciple the young people of their churches.
Throughout the week, the team have been taking every opportunity to meet and chat with students, wives of students, and children who come from all over PNG, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. It’s fair to say that we have been learning so much from them about living for Jesus, and have been greatly encouraged by their warm fellowship and joy in the Lord.
Please pray that as the students develop their skills, they will have a firm conviction of the importance of ‘specialised’ ministry to their children and young people. Pray that God will use us to equip them to do this well so that they can train up future generations of young leaders to serve Christ and bless his church in PNG.