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The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea Day Celebrated in Perth, WA.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea is the largest Protestant church in the country, with a membership of over a million baptized Christians; and it is a rapidly growing church, too. It is a missionary church. It grew out of the missionary activities of several overseas churches. Its beginning is marked by the arrival of the first missionary, Johann Flierl, at Finschhafen over 120 years ago.

No church has its origin in itself. Apart from the first congregation in Jerusalem, all have received the Word of God from elsewhere (1 Cor. 14:36); and in every case, the Holy Spirit acted through people: apostles, evangelists, teachers, messengers of many kinds. The New Testament clearly shows this evangelistic advance from town to town, from region to region and from one continent to the next. No church should be ashamed to recall its own missionary beginnings.

The Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea has its own record of missionary outreach during the past one hundred years. Soon after the first Christian congregations has been founded from elsewhere, their own local missionaries followed suit in an evangelistic movement carrying the Gospel of Peace to ever new regions of their country. New Guinea missionaries – both ordained and, in far greater numbers, unordained – surely outnumber those who have come from overseas churches in Germany, Australia, America, and Canada.

One of the many songs that were written and sang to remember the arrival of the gospel to the shores and pushed its way through the highlands of Papua New Guinea. 

 

GUTNIUS IGO KAMAP LONG PNG

OL PIPOL I HARIM OL I TILIM IGO

INSAIT LONG BUS NA LONG NABIS TU

I GAT WANWAN MAN OL I GIVIM BEL

 

DISPELA TOK EM I KAM LONG WEI

TOK I NOGAT PINIS BILONG EN

JISAS KRAIS YET I BRINGIM I KAM LONG YUMI

 

YU WANEM KAIN MAN YU WANEM KAIN MERI

TASOL GOD I SAVE MITUPELA I STAP

EM I SINGAUTIM YU EM I SINGAUTIM MI

YUMI KIRAP NA YUMI I GO LONG EM

 

DISPELA TOK EM I KAM LONG WEI

TOK I NOGAT PINIS BILONG EN

JISAS KRAIS YET I BRINGIM I KAM LONG YUMI

Today, the Lutheran church has been growing and spreading all over the nation, from Islands to the surrounding coastal region of Papua New Guinea and paved its way to the interiors of highlands regions of the nation.

A Role Play  

Before the arrival of the Missionary, the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea were  

First Contact  

Scene 1:     Traditional Religion

Character 1:  A Gardener

Character 2: A Hunter

Character 3: A Sorcery/Witch

Character 4:  A ritual Performer/Manipulator of spirit/gods

Scene 2:        Johann Flierl at Southern Australia, Bethesda Mission Station (Worked with the Aboriginal Tribe of the Dieri)

Character 1:  Johann Flierl

Character 2: Neuenddettelsau Mission Society

Character 3: Australian Missions Committee, Emmanuel Synod in South Australia.

Narration:      His (Flierl) private thoughts)

I would rather go to a totally untouched heathen people, not yet trempled on, oppressed and pushed aside by white settlers, as is the case on the mainland of Australia. There, behind Australia, that large island of New Guinea, that would be my idea.

Narration:      Flierl Sending letter

As for myself I am ready to move onto an outpost. I am prepared to live there with only the most necessary equipment as soon as I receive the call and assignment from the committee to do so … I will forgo every comfort which I have grown used to and put up with any kind of inconvenience. My dear wife would also comply, eventhough it means a seperation, until such time when most of the initial difficulties are overcome.

Character:     Australia Missions Committee

We are happy to help with advice, but the responsibility of actual work has to be in Germany

Narration:     

With the limitation in mind, the Lutheran congregations in South Australia felt spiritually responsible for the New Mission work in New Guinea and gave some financial assistance.

Character:     Neuendettelsau Mission Society, German.

            (Positive response to Flierl’s letter)

Narration:      Difficulties in Expendition.

Flierl has difficulties in his expendition. Flierl’s passage was delayed for additionalfive months. He simply had to wait, for no other ships went to Kaiser Wilhelmsland except those of the New Guinea Company.

He did not remain idle during this delay. He was supported by the Queenland Government to start missionary work among the Aborigines in Northern Queenland. There and then he established the new station Elim.

His destination was New Guinea. Finally, on July 8, 1886, he started out , and on July 12, he landed in Finschhafen as the first Christian missionary in Kaiser Wilhelmsland.

Scene 3:        Flierl Pastored the New Guinea Company

Character 1: Johann Flierl

Character 2:  The Board of Directors of the New Guinea Company (rep)

Narration:

They gave instructions ‘to support the missionary as musch as possible under the prevailing circumstances’.

Flierl was asked to conduct Sunday worship services for the people of the Company, and, at the start, he even gave religious instruction to the children of the Governor.

However, this was not the purpose for which Flierl had come to New Guinea; his main concern was mission work.

He gave himself three months to find a suitable site for a mission settlement away from the company.

Finally, he chose Simbang, a village at the mouth of the Bubui (Mape) River in Langemak Bay, about one hour’s walk from Finschhafen.

Flierl hired a Company boat to take him and Karl Tremel (his co-worker) with all their personal belongings to Simbang (October 8, 1886).

Scene 4:        First Contact with Simbang People

Character 1: Flierl and Tremel

Character 2: The Old Chief Duke

Character 3: The Village Leaders

Character 4: Simbang People

Narration:

Flierl made the mistake through ignorance of local customs and settling directly next to a village and he also did not seek the explicit permission of the village leaders to settle on their land.

Flierl himself remembered:

‘I tried to explain the reason of our coming to the local people of Simbang and thought I had their permission. We also had obtained the permission from the Land Office (of the Company) and were granted a small piece of land. But the reception by the Simbang people was anything but friendly. It seemed that they had understood my repeated announcements of our coming only to the point that we merely wanted to visit them for a short while with welcome presents. When they saw that we already had come with building materials, such as corrugated irons for a permanent building, their faces gre dark, and the old Chief Duke shouted abuse.’

           

Narration:

The appearance of two whitemen with their belongings have raised uncertainty and rejection. They were not welcomed.

Simbang people at first wanted the two strangers away through trickery, thievery, and actual assault. Not knowing the language of the people, the two missionaries could hardly make themselves understood in regard to the simplest daily needs, to say nothing of explaining to the villagers the reason for their coming.

The missionaries were seen as religious treat, men ascended from the region of ded and spirits.

In addition to all their initial difficulties – faced the handicap of rejection by the village leaders. How would they be able successfully to carry on mission work under such circumstences?

Introducing worship services were never appreciated nor heeded and formal schooling was unknown. The thing which was interesting to the people, was the white men’s iron tools, tobacco, and glass beads.

Tremel wrote:

They wanted to be paid for attending school. We went into a near by village to call the children together and bring them to school, but often, when we stooped and entered the huts at the front door, the pupil slipped away at the back, clearing through under the grass roof.

Narration:

In 1889 15 young men showed up at the missionaries’ place, declaring themselves ready to learn and to work with the missionaries for five months.

The pupil regarded normal morning school routine in the classroom as a necessary evil, through which they would obtain what they were really looking for: the use of iron tools in the afternoon work program. The pupils learnt the techniques of handling iron tools, and became familiar with hitherto-unknown tropical fruits like corn, pawpaw, and pinapple. All this was part of their schooling as they were being introduced to a Christian oriented community life, consisting of daily devotions, Christian songs, and prayers.

Actually, the young men did not come to hear the Gospel, nor did they want to learn how to read, write and count; most of all, they were interested in being paid. They became connecting link between the missionaries and the local people.

Swift Expension: Tami Island

The Mission Board in Neuendettelsau sent out additional missionaries: George Balmer (1887), Georg Pfalzer and Konrad Vetter (both 1889). In November 1889, a second mission station was started on Tami Island, approximately 12 km out to sea from Simbang, and Tremel and Bamler were assigned there. The hope and expectations of the missionaries to ise the trading routes of the Tami islanders later for the spreading of the Gospel were fulfilled.

Sattleberg

Due to health problems Flierl searched further inland. During a first exploration trip there in 1892, Zake of Bare, the local chieftain who was Flierl’s guide at that time, urged the missionary to return soon – with iron tools; if so, his people would build a house for him on the mountain ridge.

Eventhough the land rites were much too complicated for Flierl to understand, this mission station was started on the basis of the invitation and expressed consent of the landowners. Payment for the land was made with iron tools and mediums of exchange of that time. Towad the end of 1892, Flierl and his family moved to the new station on the mountain.

Narrated & Script Played by Paul Mondo

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