I hated the word

Growing up as a pastor’s kid had its advantages. When church dignitaries from the USA visited Australia, we got to meet them. When Nestlé introduced and sponsored instant coffee and Ideal Milk at the 1956 convention of Synod, we got to try it. When two Papua New Guineans came down with Missionary Keith Nagel, they came to our place for lunch. When there was harvest thanksgiving, we got a good share of the fruit and vegies that were laid on the altar steps (no doubt compensating for the low salaries in those days!).

On the other hand, we had to go to church – and not just to normal services.  I mean church which lasted for hours. I mean church where there was more than one sermon. Thirty-five minutes from one pastor, a hymn, and then twenty-five minutes from the next. Even the lunch tables laden with cream cakes couldn’t make up for that – and the interminable slide- shows in the afternoon.

Yes, we’re talking  about  mission festivals. How we hated that word mission! Mission was long. Mission was boring – except for the New Guineans, that is. Meeting them – and  I can still remember that their names were Yasaking and Sidi – was all that was exciting and ultimately out of this world for a family who’d lived their whole life in Adelaide.

Well, they say it’s a small world, but I’ll never forget the day many  years  later  when  I was talking to Leah Haro, secretary to the late bishop of the Evangelical Church in Papua New Guinea,  Dr Wesley Kigasung. As we chatted, it gradually came out: Leah was a pastor’s kid too. What’s more, her father had been a significant leader of the church,  a district president no less. Once he’d even visited Australia with Keith Nagel. His name was Yasaking!

That Leah and I ever met up, that Australians and Papua New Guineans share such a strong bond, has to do with the word  I once hated and now love – MISSION, because it’s all about God sending, God turning around people’s lives, God linking up his family members around the world.

It’s been a special blessing for me these last years to see the fruit of God’s mission at first hand, to meet so many people who have been impacted by the Lutheran Church of Australia and are so grateful to it. You can visit PNG or Sumatra or Singapore or Malaysia or Thailand, and again and again  you’ll hear the story from so many:  ‘The LCA is special  in my life. It befriended me, it walked with me, it taught me, it helped me to understand more fully the great news that our God is a sending God. He sent Jesus. He sends us.’

This story was also published in the October 2008 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray

Read more stories about our partner church in Papua New Guinea at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/papua-new-guinea/