Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea:  More than six hundred pastors and church leaders from 12 districts across Papua New Guinea, gathered together in Port Moresby,   August 3rd through 7th,  for the Tenth National Pastors Conference.

18 pastors had to walk for 3 days from the highlands of the Middle Ramu District!

18 pastors had to walk for 3 days from the highlands of the Middle Ramu District!

The conference is held every 4 years on one of the 12 Nazarene districts across Papua New Guinea.

Because Port Moresby has no road access to the rest of the nation, almost everyone outside of the immediate area had to come at least part of the way by plane. Eighteen pastors from the Middle Ramu district walked for three days to get from their homes to the nearest road and then traveled by bus or truck for several hours before catching a flight to the city.  Others traveled for 12 hours by bus over rough roads before catching a flight.

Thatched huts served as accommodations for the pastors.

Thatched huts served as accommodations for the pastors.

The conference venue is unlike anything you could imagine! It is a large open area the size of four football fields, that is used for cultural shows and is mainly covered with gravel. It is located right between the Parliament House and a multimillion dollar conference centre, which is being built to host the APEC summit meetings in 2018.

The conference meetings were held in two large tents. There were more than twenty thatched houses with gravel floors and that is where people slept at night.  Yes, they slept on the ground for there were no beds!

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In his opening prayer, District Superintendent Peter Degene prayed, “Jesus, you are our Lord and Saviour and you left heaven and came to sleep with the cows; we believe that you will feel right at home in this place!”

The South Coast District set up a makeshift kitchen and provided breakfast and dinner for the some 600 registered pastors and church leaders.

tentmeeting2The theme of the conference was “Prepare to cross over” and was based on Joshua’s command to the Israelites. “Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5 KJV)

The fact that everyone was camping out in rough and ready surroundings added to the feeling of being on a pilgrimage to the promised land.

The event was especially significant, for 2015 marks the 40th year since PNG was granted independence from Australia. Pastors throughout PNG believe that the past forty years resembles in many ways the wilderness wanderings as PNG has struggled to find its way in the community of nations. They also believe that God is going to open a new chapter in the history of PNG. The PNG parliament has in the past few weeks voted to make the Bible the cornerstone of the Nation!

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The Holy Spirit was moving among the pastors and leaders.

The Holy Spirit was moving among the pastors and leaders.

District Superintendents from PNG preached as well as Dr. Mark Louw (Asia-Pacific Regional Director) and Neville Bartle (former missionary to PNG).  Topics included Holiness and Mission, marriage, and family issues.  The alters were full of pastors who were wanting to be even more like their Lord and Savior.

Conf8On August 5th, all of the pastors sang and marched to the Parliament House with their provincial flags. Although parliament  was not in session, the pastors assembled on the steps of the parliament building and Yambe Sike, the National Board Chairman, led the more than 600 pastors in fervent prayer proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the Nation. Then all  those present, filed into the public galleries and filled them to overflowing.  They were given a brief guided tour of the legislative chamber by the official guide… indication is that he himself  is a keen evangelical.

Papua New Guinea has dedicated itself to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Government has secured a 400 year old copy of the Bible and has voted that it will be placed on a table in front of the Speaker of Parliament to symbolise its significance and importance to providing direction and life to the country.

Conf7For the past forty years a totem pole has stood within the House of Parliament. This is a huge, elaborately carved pole, covered with images of people, reptiles, demonic figures and and other images linked to occult power. Many pastors and Christian leaders have been concerned about this evil image that watches over all the affairs of the nation and have been praying fervently that God would change the hearts of the national leaders and that this would be removed.

In recent months the Speaker of the House, who evidentially is a God fearing man, with the support of other Christians, has pressed to have this removed from the building. The plans is to have the totem pole removed and have it replaced with a pillar symbolizing unity. The word “Unity” will be written on it in every one of the 700+ languages of PNG.

At the base of the pillar will be a symbol of the Word of God. Resting on that will be another stone symbolizing the constitution of the country, and above that a covenant signed in 2007 by the founding father of the nation declaring the nation of PNG to be under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

“I believe that this is God’s timing to bring you here to our parliament today. We want you to pray for God’s blessing on the country,” said the guide leading the pastors.

The chamber of the house reverberated with the heartfelt cries of God’s people as they joined hands right across the public galleries as a sign of unity and poured out their hearts to God.  All those present interceded for the nation, that righteousness would be exalted and that all evil, bribery and corruption would be rejected and cleansed from the nation’s leadership and that God would grant wisdom to the leaders of the nation.

“It was a powerful experience that is difficult to describe,” said Dr. Neville Bartle, New Zealand District Superintendent.

Please continue to pray for God’s blessing and anointing on the all those who attended the conference, for traveling mercies as they return home, and for the churches, congregations, leaders, and nation of Papua New Guinea!

— Submitted:  Dr. Neville Bartle,  District Superintendent, New Zealand (former missionary to PNG).