Building relationships on the gospel

Colin and Ruth Hayter previously served as teachers in PNG with the Lutheran church. In recent years, they have served as volunteer program assistants for LCA International Mission (LCAIM), giving their time, love and deep commitment to the mission of God carried out by the LCA across the borders of our country. They would often say that they ‘got much more out of it than they put in’. As volunteers, they have travelled around Australia visiting congregations and Lutheran Women of Australia groups to share the stories of the ministry and mission of LCAIM. We thank God for the faithful service of Colin and Ruth.

‘You’ve come back! You care about us! The church in Australia does care about us!’

This was our greeting the second year we returned to Papua New Guinea (PNG) as volunteers with Lutheran Church of Australia International Mission (LCAIM).

Each year the smiles were bigger and the trust grew. They shared their stories about the things that were happening in PNG, both the good and the not so good things that were affecting the church and its people. We were privileged to be able to listen, to share, to pray, to rejoice and to cry with them.

We spent time with church officials, pastors, teachers, students and nurses, including some who had studied at Australian Lutheran College or had been to conferences in Australia.

We attended church services in villages where the children were first to arrive, then sat down and started to sing ‘Jesus songs’ for up to 30 minutes before the service. In the towns, we attended worship with up to 600 people at a time. The singing was so powerful and moving, even if at times it was in a language we didn’t know.

For Lutheran Women of Australia we visited remote health clinics to see how solar panels are a wonderful help for the health workers, especially at night when emergencies come in. Visits to Wok Meri Trening Skuls, where young women are trained to be Christian leaders in their communities, were also a highlight.

Visiting LCA workers in PNG was also part of our role. Having meals out together, sharing their highs and lows and praying with them was special. Initially there were five Australian workers but now there are only two – Mick Hauser, who is a lecturer at Martin Luther Seminary, and Hanna Schulz, Bible Translation Advisor with Wycliffe.

So how do we describe our role? Building relationships on the gospel. We are one in Christ. We can do nothing without our Lord and Saviour.

These people gave us so much – their trust, their love, their hospitality and gifts, including sharing their faith journeys. It is inspiring and humbling to be with them. Praise and thanks be to God for our neighbours in PNG.

This story was also published in the March 2018 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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