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37. Destabilizing factors

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Kristina and Anders Olsson went to Papua New Guinea where Anders would teach at the Pentecostal mission established Vocational Training Centre in Mount Hagen. As they arrived, Hilding told Anders that he was to take over Sven’s role. This was obviously very unexpected. In its context, it is worth noting that Kristina and Anders had not been informed before leaving Sweden that Hilding had not been responsible for the “Swedish” Pentecostal mission in Papua New Guinea during recent years. Another disturbing factor was that Samuel Halldorf had not informed them (Anders and Kristina) or the Swedish churches that had missionaries in Papua New Guinea about the agreement with the Assemblies of God.


Kristina and Anders together with Hilding and Ingrid

After Hilding "handed over" the responsibility to Anders. He went to the Southern Highlands and left Anders in a position that he was not prepared for. Anders and his wife Kristina knew very little pidgin, which made their work harder. As pastors in a small Pentecostal church in Sweden, they had a good understanding of how a local church in Sweden functioned, but to suddenly and unexpectedly stand as leader of a Pentecostal movement in Papua New Guinea with about 30 churches was of course another matter. It was a very difficult, if not impossible, situation that Anders and Kristina had been thrown into.

Some missionaries from other evangelical missions realized that there was a leadership vacuum in the Pentecostal mission in the Highlands. Some tried to exploit the situation to persuade the Pentecostal churches to join their organisation. The problem was, as we have previously stated, that there were several different evangelical churches in Mount Hagen, but none of which had members from the melpa language group. Mount Hagen is located in the very center of this language group and at this time, it consisted of about 100,000 people. In the Pentecostal churches in the Highlands, there were hundreds of members who were melpa speakers. The intention was to gain a foothold among the Melpa speakers, by enticing Pentecostal Churches to join up with their own organisation.

Of course the people involved would not admit that they were trying to exploit the vacuum in leadership of the Pentecostal Churches. They justified their behaviour by suggesting that these Churches had not been planted by any Missionary or Mission organisation, but had come into being by direct Divine intervention. Sven and Marianne did not know anything about this since no one had written or told them about what had happened. They remained in the hope of the Assemblies of God appointing an experienced missionary to lead Pentecostal mission in the Highlands.

A Baptist from Australia who was employed in Mount Hagen persuaded Pentecostal Churches in the Western Highlands (there was around 20 of them) that they should create a Steering Committee for themselves, which they did. The chairman, secretary & treasurer of the Steering Committee were all relatively new believers, who had prominent positions in the community, and therefore had access to money. The chairman was a sales manager for Toyota in Hagen, the secretary was an officer with the Forestry Department, and the treasurer was a cigarette wholesaler in the Highlands. The Steering Committee decided that all offerings gathered from the churches would be taken care of by the Steering Committee. They would then pay out the salaries to pastors. As a result, the Steering Committee came to consider the pastors as their employees. If they did not like someone, they just fired him and replaced him with someone else.

In the end of 1981, Sven received a letter from Kundi Pok, asking him to come and dedicate the new church building in Tega during the Christmas of 1981.

Sven speaks: I went to Papua New Guinea together with the Pastor in Mount Isa, Peter Patterson. I still didn’t know anything about all the risen problems in the Pentecostal churches in the Highlands. On our trip to Mount Hagen we spent the night in Port Moresby. In the morning, John Sweany found me at the hotel. He was the new field leader of the Assemblies of God in Papua New Guinea.

"The pentecostal churches in the Highlands want you to come back to Mount Hagen." John said.

"Why do they want me to come back? I left the leadership to make room for a more experienced missionary." I replied.

"The people up there want you to come." John said.

Later on, I learned that Cyril Westbrook, the former Assemblies of God field leader in Papua New Guinea, had told Kundi that they needed a Pentecostal missionary in the Highlands. Kundi had then replied, "If you can persuade Sven and Marianne to come back, yes, then we need a missionary. Otherwise we won’t need anyone." That was the reason why John came to see me.

I was very touched by their request, but I said that I didn’t know what to say and continued: "Firstly, Marianne was very tired when we left Papua New Guinea and I don’t know if she has the energy to come back. Secondly, God has not told us to return. If we don’t hear it from God, then it is better for you and me that we stay in Australia. Also, our friends in Mount Hagen need to confirm that they really want me to come back."


From the dedication of the church building in Tega in1981

After this talk, Peter and I flew to Mount Hagen, dedicated the Church Building in Tega and had a couple of weeks of meetings. Towards the end of the visit, I called together the most experienced brothers I knew. I told them about what John Sweany told me and asked them if they agreed with him.

"Yes, we want you to come back." they answered.

"You must understand that if we come back, it will be as Assemblies of God missionaries since we have merged with them on the Missionary side of the work. What do you think of that?"

"We do not care about how you get here, we just want you to come."

"Okey, then I will pray about this. I don’t know what Marianne is going to say about this and I need to hear from God himself that He wants us to return to Papua New Guinea."

Then one of the brothers stood up and prophesied: "Do not worry, Sven and Marianne will come back to us."

Back in Australia, I told Marianne about our friends' desire about us returning as missionaries. We prayed about the matter, but weeks passed and a return to Papua New Guinea felt more and more distant. We did not feel like it would be the right thing to yet again sell our house and our car and quit our good jobs. We were comfortable and thriving in Australia.


Currently a new large church building is being built in Tega. From our visit in 2012.

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