Pastor Glenn Townend, South Pacific Division president, recently visited two remote districts in the Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission (EHSM) of Papua New Guinea and expressed happiness at the high number of small groups formed during the onset of COVID-19.
Pastor Townend and church leaders from PNG visited the Unavi district in Eastern Highlands and the Karimui district in Simbu on August 17. They flew on the mission plane, Adventist Aviation Services, to both areas. Unavi is the seventeenth and newest district in EHSM. Karimui is the furthest. Both are inaccessible by road.
In Unavi, Pastor Townend thanked the church members for growing small groups and urged them to be thankful to God and pray always. “I am happy with the new Unavi district. You have ten churches but have twenty-eight company churches,” he said. “Many are ready to be organized, and you have many small groups that are reaching all kinds of people. Thank you, thank you.”
Pastor Townend shared 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (ESV): “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
“We must be happy at all times. At all times, we must pray,” he said. “I stayed at home for three years. I did not travel due to COVID. But God did something wonderful. The church grew in PNG and in other parts of the Pacific. Although we from the SPD did not visit, God was at work. We must be happy because we helped God. You must trust in God.”
The Unavi district was created three years ago. There are 10 organized churches, 20 company churches, 136 small groups, 2,887 baptized members, and 4,867 Sabbath School members.
Meanwhile, in Karimui, Pastor Townend also expressed satisfaction over the district’s church growth report and encouraged the church to believe in the power of Jesus. He told the people who gathered at Tobaiya Adventist Primary School a story of how he had used prayer and small group ministry to help a friend know Jesus.
Using this example, Pastor Townend also read from 1 Corinthians 2 and told the people the “devil will work stronger and be more powerful before Jesus comes.… Jesus is more powerful. There is power in Jesus. If we want to change PNG, we must believe in the power of Jesus.”
From 2019–2021, the Karimui district recorded 2,470 baptisms and grew 358 small groups. Thirty missionaries work in the mountainous district.