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31. “The stolen” churches

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Sven speaks: When we started our work in Papua New Guinea I contacted Ministers Fratemal in Mount Hagen. Senior Pastors and Senior Missionaries of different denominations in Mount Hagen met once a week for prayer and conversation about common issues and I attended as often as I could. After a while I started to realize that there was a sense of distrust against our work. All of this turned out to be based on the following story.

A while before we came to Papua New Guinea, Hilding and Ludvig had been in contact with seven Wesleyan churches in the Southern Highlands around the area of Pangia. The members of these churches said that their missionaries had abandoned them. Although, the missionaries had just gone home for furlough, but Ludvig and Hilding did not know about this.

When Ludvig and Hilding spoke with the members of these churches, they understood that there were many believers who were not baptized. Since these friends wanted to be baptized, they organized a big baptism and 80 people were baptized. The reason why the Wesleyan missionaries had not baptized these people earlier was due to the Wesleyan Church only allowing baptism after you had been saved for at least five years, but Ludvig and Hilding did not know that.

When the Wesleyan missionaries came back after their period of rest, they heard the word about these seven Wesleyan churches having joined the Filadelfia Mission. Because of this incidence, our work had been labeled with a bad name in the Wesleyan Church and other evangelical mission organizations. As a result, our Missionaries and Pastors were not able to use MAF or the mission´s two way radio system, set up to assist the evangelical Missionaries and churches with transport and communications.


When we had been in Mount Hagen for a while, a Wesleyan missionary, who happened to work in the area of the seven churches, looked me up for a talk.

"If you don’t do anything, a war between the Wesleyans and the Pentecostals will break out in the Southern Highlands. This is no question of a ' spiritual war ' but a war fought with spears and bows." the Wesleyan missionary told me.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked.

"I want you to come and live with me for a week. Each day we will visit one of the seven churches that moved to Filadelfia."

"I will do that." was my answer.

Said and done, I went with him to the Southern Highlands and lived with him for a week. Each evening, we visited one of these Wesleyan churches that had turned into Pentecostal churches. We began the meeting with a message preached by me. I finished my sermon by saying that if they wanted to go back to the Wesleyan Church, I would not stop them, but rather bless them in their decisions. But I also said that if they felt that they wanted to remain a Pentecostal church, they still had to love those who belonged to the Wesleyan Church and be friends with them since we were all God's people. Lastly, I told them that the strife and battle, that I had heard, ought not to exist between the people of God.

After I had spoken, the Wesleyan missionary asked some questions to the pastors of the church and wondered why they left the Wesleyan Church. I was hoping that at least one of these pastors would say that it was because they had found a new spiritual dimension among the Pentecostals, like speaking in tongues and spiritual gifts, but not one of them did this. Every evening the different pastors said the same thing to the Wesleyan missionary: "We wanted a wholesale store here but you gave us none. When we time after time brought this up, you said ' go and find yourselves another mission then '. "Now we've found another mission".

The thing is that neither Ludvig nor Hilding arranged any wholesale store but they had helped members of the churches to plant coffee bushes so that they thus got a better economy. The congregations remained as Pentecostal churches and still are today, and peace was established with the members of the Wesleyan Church.

After we sorted this out with the Wesleyan Church, we were respected in the Ministers Fraternal. We could also start using the MAF and the Mission two way radio communication system.

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