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Papua New Guinea Territory - Mirroring the ministry of Jesus

Papua New Guinea Territory  - Mirroring the ministry of Jesus

Papua New Guinea Territory - Mirroring the ministry of Jesus

Colonel Kelvin Alley describes the relationship between the Australian and Papua New Guinea territories as one of "mutual love, devotion and commitment. He is pictured here with Salvationists from Popondetta, capital of the Northern Oro Province.

By Simone Worthing

Australia has a strong connection to the work of The Salvation Army in Papua New Guinea. Australian officers, Colonels Kelvin and Julie Alley, are the territorial leaders in Papua New Guinea, while their fellow Australians, Majors Robert and Vanessa Evans, are the Officers-in-Charge of the Solomon Islands, which is part of the Papua New Guinea Territory.

“The Salvation Army in Papua New Guinea grew out of the mission expansion of Australia, particularly the Eastern Territory, so there has always been a strong family bond between the two territories,” says Colonel Kelvin Alley, Papua New Guinea Territorial Commander. “Many Australian officers have served here; there is a mutual love, devotion and commitment.

“Papua New Guinean Salvationists set a good example to other territories. Their expressions of faith and commitment are refreshing, almost New Testament, and uplift Australians who experience them. Papua New Guinea can also offer missional opportunities that allow Australians, and others, to see and experience different aspects of Christianity in a different cultural and non-affluent setting.” The Salvation Army in Papua New Guinea is involved in the provision of health care and education, o ering some of the best and in some cases, only, facilities in the country. “We try to follow Christ’s example of teaching, preaching and healing,” says Colonel Alley. "Practical healthcare services are of vital importance in this.”

“In areas such as supporting adults and children living with HIV and AIDS, our work is life-changing. We have three major centres – houses of hope – that test people for HIV and provide ongoing support to those shown to be positive. Our urban medical clinic is one of the best in the country. We also train health workers with partial funding from the government, and so make an ongoing contribution to the development of Papua New Guinea.” 

The Salvation Army in Papua New Guinea also runs two of the best private primary schools in the country and is heavily involved in several village schools. “Providing education services is a significant part of our development work,” says Colonel Alley (pictured right with new Salvationists being enrolled). “We focus on educating children in a healthy Christian environment where morals and ethics are taught and modelled to the children who will one day become adults and change their nation.”

Restorative justice work with young people at the courts in Port Moresby, supporting women through domestic violence, and ministry to sex workers are also outreach areas for the Army in Papua New Guinea.

Geographically, Papua New Guinea is rugged and mountainous, with many places only accessible by canoe, four-wheel drive, or by foot. “Some places are hostile as well as remote, and periods of volatility and violence break out at times,” says Colonel Alley. “It’s dangerous to live here, but this is life here.”

Despite the challenges, unexpected joys are frequent. The Alleys will often hear about a new Salvation Army work somewhere in the country, which nobody previously knew anything about. “For example, in remote West Sepik we are about to open a new outpost and enrol nearly 100 soldiers,ˮ says Colonel Alley. “And in the Solomon Islands, there are similar stories. There is huge potential for growth there despite the many challenges.

“These countries may be poor, but they are rich in spirituality and missional opportunities and speak wonders to the world. It’s the most amazing honour and privilege for Julie and I to serve here in this wonderful territory.”

An interview with the Salvation Army International Development (Australia) about its projects in Papua New Guinea

What projects do you currently have in Papua New Guinea?

The Salvation Army is involved in the Church Partnership Program (CPP), a collaboration between seven mainline Christian churches in Australia and Papua New Guinea. As part of the program, each church brings expertise to different thematic areas across international development including education, health, gender equality and social inclusion, disaster-risk reduction, and restorative justice, to name a few.

How are these projects building sustainability, improving lives, capacity, and hope in Papua New Guinea?

Our partnership with other churches, institutions and local and provincial governments is critical for building sustainability as our goal is to empower these agencies to continue the program’s impact after CPP concludes. We do this by building the capacity of churches through training offcers and staff, meeting with government offcials to advocate for our projects and developing research and resources with universities and institutes. This will lead to long-term transformational change. But for now, our immediate impacts are positive. CPP improves lives by educating illiterate children and adults, reducing gender inequalities, providing community health workers to treat illnesses in rural areas, and protecting water sources, food and homes in the event of disasters.

What is Australia learning from its relationship with Papua New Guinea, culturally, spiritually or in any other way? 

Papua New Guinea is culturally very different to Australia, so the most important thing we can do is listen attentively and understand what the needs in this country are. It is encouraging to see that church life is not separate from everyday life. Instead of listening to buskers in town squares, preachers gather crowds who sit in the little shade they can nd in the tropical heat listening to the Word being preached. If there’s anyone or anything that can create lasting change in Papua New Guinea, it’s the Church.

 

The Salvation Army officially commenced in Papua New Guinea on 31 August 1956. The first meeting was conducted on Sunday 21 October at the Royal Police Constabulary Barracks in the capital, Port Moresby. The first offcers appointed to Papua New Guinea were Majors Keith and Edna Baker and Lieutenant Ian Cutmore.

On 4 July 1994, after 38 years as part of the Australia Eastern Territory, Papua New Guinea became an independent command. On 9 December 2000, it was elevated to territory status. As part of the Papua New Guinea Territory, work began in the nearby Solomon Islands in 2010 and was officially recognised on 1 February 2011.

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