Living out their Christian calling

Life has many twists and turns, and as I recently discovered, even U-turns.  In 1986 we left Papua New Guinea after 7 years, during which time my husband worked in the Yangpela Didiman (agricultural) program. The PNG chapter of our lives seemed closed. Thus, it was a great surprise in 2018 when I was approached by Glenice Hartwich and Nevin Nitschke to consider returning to a PNG work assignment alongside Lutheran school leaders in order to facilitate a revision of the Christian Life Studies program.

After deliberations, conversations and prayers, I boarded a plane in March of this year to return to the country after almost 30 years. While it is easy to consider what has changed in that time, it is perhaps more pertinent to consider what has remained the same. I was welcomed with warmth and friendliness, and as I met Church and School leaders I realized that the Lutheran church has not only survived, but also thrived. Being left with a huge administrative load after the departure of expatriate missionaries has not been an easy road and to some eyes mistakes have been made. Yet there has emerged strong Pastors, Evangelists, leaders, teachers and everyday people who have a passion for the gospel and whose hearts and lives are committed to serving our God

Having spent my working years in education, I took certain preconceived ideas with me of what schooling looks like. These were quickly turned upside down after my visits to Lutheran schools in PNG. Government requirements for compulsory education have meant that many schools are now filled to capacity and beyond. Lutheran primary schools in the towns of Lae and Port Morseby have up to 1500 students with teachers managing over 50 students per class – without the classroom space, aides, resources and technology familiar to any Australian teacher. This is mirrored in the secondary schools.

The Christian Life Studies program was initially prepared almost 20 years ago. It is a well-designed program, much of which is still appropriate today, and is relevant to the PNG culture. However, with continuing cultural and educational change it is in need of updating in order for teachers to use it more easily and effectively.

Plans are now being formed to restructure and add to the program, using the knowledge and skills of local Education Secretaries, leaders and teachers. As appropriate I will return to work alongside them, an opportunity that makes me feel both humbled and excited.

What can you do? Keep the ELCPNG church in your prayers, with both mindfulness of the cultural change and challenges within this developing country, along with thankfulness for the faith and passion shown by its people as they live out their Christian calling.

If your school would like to know more about how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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