PNG youth leaders build bridges, break barriers

Jimi Valley, Papua New Guinea

Current and emerging youth leaders gathered on Papua New Guinea's Bromley District 14-18 December 2016 for the country's third National Youth Leaders Conference.

More than a thousand people attended, including Nazarene Missions International delegates and Asia-Pacific Regional Nazarene Youth International Coordinator Janary Suyat De Godoy, Regional NMI Coordinator Connie Aebischer, Australia New Zealand Field NYI Coordinator Cameron Batkin, and Melanesia South Pacific Field NYI Coordinator Daniel Latu.

"The conference was without a doubt a fellowship orchestrated by God," Latu said. "It was not hosted in the modern PNG city centres of Port Moresby or Lae, but in the beautiful, rugged mountain terrain of the Jimi Valley. Our visitors would agree it could not have been hosted in a better venue than the Jimi."

The event was important not only for youth ministry in Papua New Guinea but also for the Melanesia South Pacific Field.

"The mere presence of regional and field ministry leaders, camping and mingling with participants for five days, broke barriers and built bridges," Latu said. "Interactions like this bring out the 'I' [International] in NYI — something the young people in the remaining Melanesia South Pacific districts desire."

Outcomes of the conference included: 

  • Recognising the work God is already doing in PNG and committing to finding ways to partner and resource others in their Kingdom service through NYI and NMI
  • Identifying, training, equipping, and releasing current and emerging youth leaders into ministry, including compassionate ministry, evangelism, community service, disciple-making, worship, communications and media, etc.
  • Continuing to be more intentional in developing the partnership between Melanesia South Pacific Field NYI and NMI, looking into more consistent, creative, and practical ways to work together in missions and ministry
  • Understanding the value of local church youth in the NYI structure and the global Church of the Nazarene family.

Latu is confident that given all they have learned through the conference, participants will discover more as they continue their journey with God. Shortly after the conference, an attendee shared their story with Latu:

A young man came who attended the conference was burdened by the Lord for the wounded and misguided young people in his community; peers who — from time to time — would sneer and ridicule him for being a Christian. He still saw them as his friends and came seeking ways to help them know the Lord he has come to love and serve. God was ministering to him during our time together. He was simply encouraged to trust the Lord, to love those God has called him to serve and not to quit on them. After all, since it is the Lord who has burdened him, it is the Lord who will show him the strategies and methodologies.

On Christmas Day, he was returning from an evening service when he encountered several of his friends, all of them disorderly, heavily influenced with alcohol and out of sorts. As he recounted the events, they did something he never anticipated. One of the worst ones ran up to him and rather than ridicule and insult him, he hugged him and began to pour out before him, saying he wanted to give up on the habits and lifestyle that was not helping him, to repent and live the new life with Jesus. Two others joined in, each wanting the same thing: a fresh start with Jesus. They sought the young man’s forgiveness for all the times they had ridiculed him. The young man was left utterly speechless. He went seeking in the Jimi and found that God was already working. One thing is clear: He now knows where to start and that is to continue the ministry with them. He is grateful to God for the opportunity and loving the discovery.

He messaged a summary of the events and penned down the following reaction:

“…brother, I didn’t say anything to them; I didn’t even preach to them but am amazed to see that God is doing great things. My heart is filled with joy. To God be the glory. Now I know it’s the love of God … so am not going to give up.”

As we move forward, we can all agree that this is God’s kingdom and He will build it the way He sees fit.

Let us in humility, love and wisdom, working in unity, serve others as we obediently follow Him and let God be God.

--Church of the Nazarene Asia-Pacific Region

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