Christian Union Church in PNG
Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most diverse and complex nations. More than 800 languages are spoken, but fewer that 50 percent of the population can read. Most people still live in grass huts and survive on their gardens, but many are trying to adjust to life in a technological world. And while 43 percent of Papua New Guineans consider themselves Protestant Christians, they often mix the truths of Christianity with their traditional beliefs and animistic customs.
The people of PNG need to know the saving love of Jesus and the freeing power of that love. Christian Union Church seeks to meet this need through preaching and teaching. The church, formed in 1964 by Churches of Christ in Christian Union missionaries, currently has 120 congregations and approximately 90 national pastors in seven districts and three areas. While some churches have permanent buildings, other congregations still meet in grass huts or under trees.
The people of PNG also need to know the healing power of God’s Word. However, access to the Bible is limited, and the majority of literate Papua New Guineans are children who usually drop out of school between third and fifth grade. Many pastors who are called into the ministry are also lacking the skills needed to serve their congregations well. Through Christian Union Bible College, the church is providing Bibles, teaching people to read them, and training pastors.
Christian Union Bible College was opened by the church in 2006. Students attend for three years and receive in-depth pastoral training in reading and understanding God’s Word. Class books and other material are published in Pidgin, the trade language of PNG, so the information is easier to understand. The college also offers literacy classes in English and Pidgin for pastor’s wives to better equip them to serve alongside their husbands.
For pastors who can’t attend Christian Union Bible College, classes in basic reading and theology are taught in each church district through Theological Education by Extension (TEE). These classes are taught weekly by the district superintendents within small groups and remote villages.
Christian Union Church is also beginning to incorporate Bible Storytelling, or oral memorization of God’s Word. This practice is readily accepted among the people of PNG because of their history of passing down ancestral stories orally. It also enables those who cannot read or who do not have a Bible to keep the truth of God’s Word in their hearts.
From the beginning, Christian Union Church sought to get local people involved in local churches. Now, congregations throughout the country have lay workers serving as musicians, youth leaders, and church decorators. The church also holds an annual women’s conference and a regional pastor’s conference while each district hosts conferences, youth camps, and other ministry-related events.
CUC also reaches into local communities. Pidgin and English literacy classes help people read their Bibles and obtain jobs while four health centers in the Southern Highlands provide much-needed healthcare. The church also supports local schools, helping children receive an education and, therefore, better provide for their families and communities.
PRAY: Pray that the gospel will be accurately spread throughout PNG as pastors receive adequate training and start implementing Bible Storytelling. Pray also that God’s Word will continue to move and shape the hearts of Papua New Guineans as they gain access to Bibles and learn how to read them.
GIVE: There is a need to send pastors to Christian Union Bible College for training. Many times, entire villages or churches contribute money to help these pastors receive an education. Help educate a pastor and grow the church in PNG!
Make checks payable to World Gospel Mission and write Christian Union Bible College in the memo line. Send check donations to:
World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948
GO: Is the Lord calling you to serve in PNG? Go to www.wgm.org/go for a list of ways you can get involved!
SHARE: View a speaker outline for Christian Union Church in PNG.