Two Christians from the Enga Province of Papua New Guinea expressed appreciation to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod for both the Gospel message and for economic development during an Aug. 3 visit to the International Center.
The visitors were Ezekiel Peter, the first secretary of the Enga Provincial Government and general secretary of the Gutnius Lutheran Church, and Jacob Luke, a prominent businessman. They met with LCMS President Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick; Dr. Samuel Nafzger, assistant to the president for church relations; Rev. Thomas Zehnder, executive director of LCMS World Mission; and Dr. David Birner, associate executive director for international mission with LCMS World Mission.
In 1948, LCMS missionaries Rev. Willard Burce and Rev. Otto Hintze, with missionaries from Australia and New Guinea, were among the first to bring the Gospel to the Enga people of New Guinea. Nine years later, they conducted the first baptisms, and the church grew rapidly.
The visitors brought a message from Peter Ipatas, governor of Enga Province and a member of the Gutnius Lutheran Church. Ipatas wrote, “The LCMS has played a critical role in the development of the Enga Province. Not only did you plant the seeds of the Gospel and bring us the knowledge of salvation, but you also brought us schools, hospitals, health care, airstrips, roads, economic development, and many other blessings.”
As a result, Ipatas said, the Enga people play major roles at the highest levels of Papua New Guinea government. “Most of those leaders were educated in our Lutheran schools and at Pausa Lutheran High School,” he added.
Besides the Enga people, the mission in Papua New Guinea also reached Ipili, Hewa, Duna, Nete, Penale, Mende, Huli, and other language groups.
In his response, LCMS President Kieschnick said, “It’s exciting to know that over 70 LCMS missionaries were there at one time, faithfully communicating the Gospel through their ministry in Word and Sacrament. That work is being continued today by the children and grandchildren of people who were brought to Christ by our early missionaries, still producing abundant fruit. To God alone be the glory!”
Posted Aug. 12, 2009