Following a much drier rainy season last year and experiencing drought in Finschhafen, in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Province, we are now in the middle of a very normal wet season. The dry meant that vital food production from student gardens has been delayed from March until an expected start in early July if the […]
Following a much drier rainy season last year and experiencing drought in Finschhafen, in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Province, we are now in the middle of a very normal wet season. The dry meant that vital food production from student gardens has been delayed from March until an expected start in early July if the rains don’t decimate them.
As adept as the people are in working in their surroundings, there is genuine fragility in life in PNG where the lack of medical supplies can impact enormously on family stability.
Amid the fragility, there is also a beautiful naivety. By this I do not mean a lack of intellect; rather that the culture does not unnecessarily engage in the ‘why’ and ‘what about’ questions which seek to apprehend the uncertainties of the future.
Term one finished early and included an extended break for the students to return home seeking assistance from families and communities. Even though they have returned to a lack of provision, monetary gifts from Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG and its overseas partners have enabled seminary classes to resume largely uninterrupted. What has been lacking in material benefits has not dampened the spirits of students, who have maintained class attendance with remarkable resilience.
Teaching pure Lutheran theology may seem relatively straightforward. But in a land where the Book of Concord has been mostly unavailable due to the cost, in many cases there is a limited knowledge through Luther’s Small Catechism and opportunity to build on the foundation that people from Western cultures take for granted.
Acknowledging a lack of Lutheran identity in their home parishes, students’ questions are chiefly framed around false doctrines, both from past culture and undisciplined churches that have brought great disunity and confusion to their congregations and villages.
The spectacular coastal views from our mountaintop vantage point are surpassed only by observing the transforming power of the word of God on timid young seminary entrants to stable students of theology. Students whose purpose at seminary engages from day one the reality of the home to whom most of them aspire to return and lead forward in gospel truth and integrity.
This story was also published in the August 2023 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you would like to consider the opportunity to donate to Murray Smith, who is serving as a lecturer at Martin Luther Seminary in Papua New Guinea, you are invited to go to https://lcamission.org.au/donations/index.php/png.html and select ‘Pastor Murray Smith – Seminary Lecturer’ from the list of projects.