Churches often bring together people from many backgrounds, through a shared belief of God. In Australia, it’s not uncommon to see many churches of different denominations along the same street!
But in remote Papua New Guinea, this isn’t the norm. Communities have memories of past times with serious warlike conflict with one another. Some areas are also strongly denominational. But people are also working hard to use their faith to bring the people around them closer, and to heal past divisions.
This is what Pastor Simon does. Based at Tsumba on the Ramu River, Simon works with churches along the Ramu. He visits with their pastors, prays with them and trains them – and even supports them with his own money.
Three of these churches have been planted by him, and cross cultural and denominational boundaries. Missingu, Kwanga, and Wangebu Churches of Christ are all in traditional Catholic areas, and villages where the people were ‘sworn enemies’ of the people of Tsumba.
Despite these barriers, Pastor Simon had faith that God wanted him to share with these people following their invitation to come. So he went, and started to build a church.
At first, the Catholic priest was upset, and worried that people would leave the Catholic church. But now, he understands that more people have come to know God, and built a relationship with Jesus.
Now they have good news. People are seeing the power of God to bring them together in love and service. Women and men from these three communities travelled to Gandep to take part in ministry training. Pastor Simon was one of the people there who helped equip them to go back and lead their churches. Now, the three churches are self-led!
The people of Tsumba were once enemies of these villagers. Now, they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They share the same gospel and love of Jesus. One of the women who came to train as a pastor met a man from Tsumba, and they fell in love. They are now married – something unheard of between these communities before!
Through the power of sharing the gospel, Pastor Simon was able to bring these people closer. Closer with God, and closer with each other. Evangelism can help close the gaps that have formed between people. Through God, violent histories and vast differences have been overcome!