The Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission (EHSM) in Papua New Guinea organized a ten-day life skills training program in late August 2023 to enhance self-sufficiency among locals. Thirty-three church members from EHSM, with skills in business, farming, and marketing, traveled to Bougainville to train local church and community members.
The training focused on goat and honey farming, citrus growing, and organic farming of rice, potatoes, and round onions, aimed at helping locals generate income from their land due to the high cost of imported vegetables in PNG.
Fifty years ago, Bougainville Mission was one of the wealthiest missions in PNG due to its copper mines and coconut plantations. The situation changed with the departure of mining companies, leaving many services non-operational. While the Seventh-day Adventist Church provided health and education services, there was still a significant lack of skills training for self-sufficiency in farming and small businesses.
Pastor Mathew Kamo, EHSM Stewardship director, emphasized the importance of growing food locally: “We should be encouraging and training local church members in farming many kinds of fruits and vegetables grown overseas, including nuts. Agriculture is what will save the community and the country, [keeping] the population busy and engaged in utilizing their land to gain sustainable incomes.”
The training sessions also served as outreach opportunities and “were a blessing to all those involved from the local community,” said Pastor Leslie Yamahune, PNG Union Mission Stewardship director. “The team encouraged the people to serve God in their lives, homes, and businesses. As time passes, we will also see increased faithfulness in worship through tithe and offerings.”
The initiative is part of a broader trend of mission-to-mission life skills training across PNG. These trainings contribute to the nation’s stewardship, discipleship, family, and youth ministries, supporting the government’s goals to help all citizens realize the benefits of economic empowerment.