Papua New Guinea
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Lutherans mark 100 years

By MICHAEL KOMA

MAJOR churches have contributed to social development all over the globe and Papua New Guinea is no exception.

Apart from spreading the Word of God they (churches) established schools and health centres for the masses.

One of these churches that contributed to spiritual and physical developments is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELCPNG).

The scenic coast of Simbang in Morobe’s Finschhafen area is the place where pioneer Lutheran missionary Johann Flierl landed on July 12, 1886.

Flierl established a station and trained young men in the area for church work.
Many Finschhafen men passed out as pastors and spread out across the country to spread the Word of God.

One of them is Niczakie who scaled the Bukawa range into Lae and continued along the Markham Valley to Wampar.

Niczakie was regarded as the first Lutheran pastor to enter the hostile Highlands region in 1923 a year before the interior of the region was exposed to the outside world.

The pastor spread the Word of God in this part of the country and retreated to Finschhafen years later, according to church chronicles.

In 1937, three pastors walked all the way to Goroka and established a station at Asaroka.
Many locals were converted to the Lutheran faith.
Church members from ELCPNG Asaroka circuit celebrated 100th anniversary last weekend in memory of Niczakie.

Gospel songs, drama, Bible presentations, baptism and a colossal feast was held in Asaroka as part of the celebration.

Other activities included reconciliation between church members, thanksgiving and opening of a new Sunday school building for the young children.

The old church building in Asaroka was renovated with financial contributions from the congregation and Daulo MP Ekime Gorosahu.
Most of the more than 4000 participants came from Gurupoka, Zomaga, Gama, Siviri, Omuka, Ifiyufa and Gahuku parishes.
Pioneer evangelists moblised the locals to build a church and a missionary’s residence with bush materials and establish the first Lutheran mission station in the Highlands region.
Church records indicated that men, women and children from as far as Lufa, Kwongi, Daulo, Bena, Chuave, Gembogl, Nambayufa and Henganofi, Okapa arrived at Asaroka to receive the Word of God between 1937 and 1970.
In 1953, a primary school and an aid post was established by the missionaries on land donated by the traditional landowners.
Six years later a high school was built on the mission station to absorb the pioneer grade seven students from the Asaroka Primary School.
The Asaroka High School, which is still renowned as the first high school in the Highlands, lured students from all parts of the region.
The school has contributed greatly towards the country’s human resource index by producing students like Petroleum Minister and Sinesine-Yongomugl MP Kerenga Kua, former University of Goroka’s Vice Chancellor Dr Musawe Sinebare, former Morobe governor and lawyer Kelly Naru, former prime minister Peter O’Neill and Daulo MP Ekime Gorosahu.
Church records showed arrival of mostly German missionaries into the Highlands was possible after two stations (Gabmazung in 1911 and Kaiapit in 1918) were established in the Markham Valley.