In the remote and rugged Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea last week, I met an elder who told me that he was born in the Stone Age, and was now a 21st century school principal. The journey of these villagers, who first heard the gospel a decade after World War II finished, has been immense and marvellous, and they are grateful to the Christian missionaries who opened up so many opportunities.
I visited Movi, in Siane Deanery in the Diocese of Aipo Rongo in the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, and was challenged and encouraged by their faith, a favour I sought to return.
The isolation of these people that kept them apart from the outside world until the mid-1950s remains a problem. It is hard for the villagers of Siane to get their produce to market, their children to secondary school or their sick to hospital, while the sealed road to Movi runs out several arduous hills and valleys before it gets there, making the trip perilous in bad weather.
The people of Siane look to the Church as their chief ally in pursuing their social, education and development aspirations, as well as their spiritual goals, and we are honoured to be a partner.
Victorian Anglicans provide important support. Aipo Rongo Diocese is a partner diocese with the Diocese of Ballarat, and the Anglican Board of Mission strongly supports Newton College, the national theological training college. Glenn Buijs at Hoppers Crossing parish has built a respected relationship with the Diocese of Popondota, where he was made a Canon of Resurrection Cathedral, Popondetta, in March last year.
It is good that we keep the hopes and aspirations of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea in our thoughts and in our prayers. Our generous giving goes a long way in that country. We have a shared beginning and, as the population of Papua New Guinea rises to around 15 million by mid-century, an increasingly shared future.
[Image from http://www.anglicanprimate.org.au/)
>> Read a news article published in the PNG Post Courier about the Primate’s visit to Chimbu’s Siane area: https://postcourier.com.pg/anglican-archbishop-melbourne-visits-siane/