Social Concerns Notes – April 2018

Church Leaders Concerned with low ART Drug Stock levels.

Post Courier, April 3, 2018

The heads of churches who are members of PNG Christian leaders alliance on HIV and AIDS secretariat have expressed concern about the level of anti-retro viral treatment (ART) drugs currently available. In a meeting last week, they expressed this saying that people living with HIV (PLHIV) were experiencing shortages in relation to accessing a full ART drug supply and intake in some centres. “With the current situation where PLHIV are not accessing full medical supply of ART is not good for our national HIV response because the viral load of people living with HIV will increase as a result of not getting it. “The government must act now before our PLHIV will become resistant to ART as a result of not taking the prescribed amount of ART drugs on a daily basis,” chairman of the PNG Christian leaders alliance on HIV and AIDS secretariat Cardinal John Ribat said.

Sir John said when people become resistant to ART it would be very expensive to pay for their drugs and that would even become more worrying problem for PNG. He said the government must act quickly before the situation creates more drug resistant PLHIV.


Children’s rights in prison a concern

April 3, 2018 The National

A JUDGE has questioned why two toddlers forced to live with their mothers in prison are deprived of appropriate food and facilities. Justice Panuel Mogish, who visited Bomana Prison in Port Moresby on Wednesday, told The National that human rights advocates and non-governmental organisations should be raising their concern over the rights of such children to be cared for properly, especially what food they are given to eat. Justice Mogish said there were 30 female inmates in Bomana and among them were two innocent children. He  said the child could be taken away and looked after by relatives after turning three years old. “But in the meantime they are not given enough nutritional requirements that their bodies require. “They just eat the common food that every other convict or inmate eats, so if it’s rice and tinned fish, they all eat rice and tinned fish.
He said the innocent children were forced to be living against their will because under PNG laws, a child can live with the inmate mother until the child reaches three years. “Most of the mothers do not want to leave their babies outside for others to look after and insist on taking them in the prison. It comes naturally for mothers to do that but there are no facilities to properly care for the child.”
Justice Mogish said the plight of convicted mothers with children in jail was “a very big problem”.

“We see people who promote gender-based violence against women and breaches of human rights but they are not doing anything about the rights of the children.
Child abuse ‘part of life’ in PNG

April 3, 2018 The National

CHILD abuse has become so common in Papua New Guinea that it is part of everyday life, a workshop at the University of PNG heard. Pikinini Watch PNG told the workshop that the rate of abuse is among the highest in the world outside a conflict zone. Most children in this country are brought up seeing their mothers and siblings being regularly beaten, the organisation said. According to the organisation, child labour is different from child work. Child labour is seen as loads of work given to a child that is not fitting or appropriate. For example, a six-year-old child taking care of a baby is child abuse but in most cases in PNG it is very common.
Child work on the other hand is work given to a child that is appropriate for their age, like asking a five-year-old to put away his or her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, the workshop heard.
More than half of all Medecins Sans Frontiers consultations for survivors of sexual violence in Tari and Port Moresby in 2014 and 2015 were with children.


Court to review cases of inmates with mental health problems

April 4, 2018 The National

TWENTY-two inmates with mental health issues who have been undergoing psychiatric treatment in Port Moresby since 2015 will have their cases reviewed by the Bomana National Court this week.
Justice Panuel Mogish told the media after visiting Bomana Prison with other members of the legal fraternity last Wednesday that the 22 people indicated that they had completed their check-ups and were awaiting repatriation. “These 22 people are the forgotten people. We bring them here and we forget about them,” he said. Justice Mogish said courts outside Port Moresby had ruled the inmates in question had psychiatric disorder. He said the Bomana National Court was supposed to review their cases on Thursday but constant power supply interruptions in the area forced the court to defer the matter to this week.
He said his jail visit was purposely to follow up on such groups of people who had been forgotten.
He said under the law, a person should be mentally fit and sane to be able to plead to charges.
“He must also be able to understand the charge and be mentally fit to understand and think,” he said.


Pomio landowners have a major court victory over logging giants

LAE – A group of customary landowners in Papua New Guinea has regained access to their land following a significant legal victory against supporters of a Malaysian logging company. Seven people from Pomio in East New Britain were barred from entering their land for the past six years after a restraining order was issued against them in 2012. The landowners include Paul Pavol Palusualrea and Nobert Pames who have been vocal against ‘land grabbing’ and widespread deforestation in the remote district. The National Court in Kokopo set aside the restraining orders after finding there was a lack of evidence. The landowners were represented by lawyers from the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR). “We are happy to have won the case for our clients, who are from the forested communities of West Pomio whose resources have been exploited through SABL [Special Agriculture Business Leases],” said lawyer Everlyn Wohuinangu.

The Pomio District is the site of a controversial SABL where large tracts of rainforest have been logged and replaced by oil palm plantations. The dispute over the logging and land grabbing triggered the six-year legal battle between the landowners and local companies sponsored by the Malaysian logging company.


Church group helping inmates gain new skills

April 9, 2018 The National

A CHURCH organisation is visiting prison inmates to teach them trade skills as part of their rehabilitation. Members of the Catholic organisation Mercy Works in Mt Hagen have been teaching inmates at Baisu prison things like sewing, music, and how to prepare stock feed. It is hoped that the inmates can use those skills to find work then they are released. Mercy Works coordinator Sister Mariska Kua said they were making regular visits to the women’s prison, juvenile’s prison and the minimum security prison. She said inmates who had been released were already putting the skills into good use. “We provide food for the prisoners and right now I see that this visit is not a waste but has bigger impacts,” Kua said. “These people have skills and talents.” Kua said God created everyone for a purpose and Mercy Works was using that principle to educate the inmates to look after themselves


Children in quake-affected areas face ‘serious health risks’

April 9, 2018 The National

CHILDREN face serious health risks because of the trauma they suffered from the earthquake last month, according to a United Nations agency, Karen Allen, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) representative in PNG, said the earthquake had left families devastated, homes destroyed, and victims displaced and traumatised in the four Highlands provinces. “Children are still being confronted by fear, loss, confusion, family separation, deteriorated living conditions and disruption of social and school activities,” she said. She said children in such conditions faced greater health risks such as mental health disorders, delay in brain development, anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide. Even before the earthquakes, she said children in PNG had already experienced a high risk of violence and abuse. “Available data indicate that girls and boys in PNG experience some of the highest rates of violence in the Asia-Pacific region. “About 75 per cent of children report experiences of physical abuse and 80 per cent experience emotional abuse during their lifetime.”
A recent Medecins Sans Frontieres report showed that 12,000 cases of family and sexual violence are treated each year at the Tari Family Support Centre in Hela.


Problems of addiction are blighting many of our families

16 April 2018. The National

KUNDIAWA – Alcoholism and drug addiction are progressive and fatal diseases that undermine the family unit. Addiction is a family problem with every member, not just the addict, suffering from its effects. In our highlands society, families operate as a system and family members interrelate to each other for a common purpose. When there is no food, all family units work to find some. When there is no money to pay school fees, the family rallies to get it. When a family member is sick, the others provide care and comfort. However, in families where a member is an alcoholic, drug addict or gambler, this balance is lost and there looms a great risk of dysfunction including divorce or separation, child abuse, sexual exploitation, economic manipulation, intimidation, psychological abuse and much more.

Children of alcoholics and drug addicts exist in a dubious moral environment and frequently lack a full understanding of the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, lawful and unlawful.

Juvenile delinquency or youth crime is increasing especially in urban areas.  Psychological and spiritual problem are common among the children of alcoholics, who become confused and lose a sense of who they are.


Risk just grown for HIV kids

April 13, 2018The National

MORE than 300 children living with HIV/AIDS in the earthquake-affected areas cannot access anti-retroviral treatment drugs due to tribal fighting, United Nations AIDS consultant Dr Shinsuke Miyano says. Before the earthquake, 7000 people living with HIV/AIDS were receiving treatment from the 39 clinics in four provinces. It included 300 children. It is estimated that about 9800 people with HIV/AIDS live in four provinces – Hela, Southern Highlands, Enga and Western.
“Those below the age of 15 are considered children and above are adults,” Dr Shinsuke said.
“For the younger children below five years, they got the virus from their mother during childbirth or breastfeeding. “Some children contacted HIV by abuse, gender-based violence and rape.”
The recent earthquake damaged five ART (anti-retroviral treatment) clinics serving more than 100 patients. “We are concerned about the people. A month is too long to live without the drug,” he said. “It will surely have a big effect on their wellbeing.

Climate leads Catholic agenda

April 13, 2018 The National

Catholic bishops have been urged to become advocates of climate change in the Oceania region.
A conference for the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) is underway in Port Moresby with at least 80 bishops from across Oceania taking part.
The focus was the effects of climate change on nations and their economies.
Speaking at the opening in Port Moresby yesterday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, from the Vatican, conveyed a message from Pope Francis calling on the bishops to focus on climate change.
Cardinal Pietro is second to the Pope in the Catholic Church.
“We all share a common home which we call planet Earth,” he said.
“While this may be obvious on one level, if this truth is accepted, then there are ethical implications for everyone as to how we use the treasures of the land and sea.”
The Cardinal pleaded for a deep-seated conversion of attitudes towards God’s gift of creation. In particular, he named politicians and policymakers to put into practice a life of responsible and modest living.

Care centers still at high risk of disease

Although things have quieted down in most of areas affected by the earthquake last week, paramedics from an emergency medical team have highlighted that the critical phase of medical relief operations is far from over.

New South Wales based St John Ambulance paramedic, Ben Fisher told Post Courier last Friday that the risk of communicable diseases now increases exponentially as locals begin to congregate at care centers. “Like anywhere where there’s been a disaster, a lot of people have been displaced from their homes and they are now living together in large groups whether it’s in a church or a school yard or whatever. The big problem now is sanitation, infection and nutrition,” said Fisher.

“It’s likely that they will be exposed to Typhus, Diphtheria and Diarrhoea; because they are a tight group they are very communicable and easily spread due to sanitation issues.”

“Especially in some developing countries, things like diarrhoea in children and fluid loss is still unfortunately a life-threatening problem.


Hey men – let’s make our streets & buses safe for women and girls

7 April 2018.

PORT MORESBY – It was busy Friday and I was amongst the people walking through the Ori Lavi building when a stranger whispered to me, Hey, lush you, perfume stap olsem yu iet.’’

Before I could react he had disappeared into the crowd; frustratingly because it was third time in a week this had happened to me and I could have slapped the guy with force and give him a lesson to think about a thousand times before doing it to anyone else.

This is not a new or unusual incident for any Papua New Guinean girls in public places or who use public transport in our urban areas. It’s the kind of daily challenge to our safety that occurs whenever women and girls step out of their homes.

A stupid remark like “Hey stack one, nogat makmak,” being spat out on the street by a stranger is something many women and girls experience. It may seem like just a bit of harmless fun but street harassment is really about power and control and I know from personal experience that it can easily turn to violence. It’s upsetting to see women and girls being harassed by name calling, unwanted comments or touching when they pass a group of strangers on the street of Boroko or around Gordon’s market. If young girls walk to a bus stop in their shorts, men will leer and start whistling, catcalling and making demands. Taxi drivers follow them around, hooting their car horns. Lewd comments are hurled from all angles..

Most women in PNG experience this form of harassment and they feel unsafe in public places and take steps to avoid harassment by varying their routines, changing the way they dress, refusing eye contact or even avoiding make-up. Others travel in groups or are always accompanied by men while some even employ their own defence mechanisms such as walking with keys between their knuckles. [For the rest of this article, see the url above.]


104 arrests made in 1107 family, sexual violence cases last month

April 17, 2018 The National

PROVINCIAL police commanders are the ones to recommend the establishment of Family and Sexual Violence Units in their provinces, an official says. Police family and sexual violence unit coordinator Job Eremugo made the statement after releasing last month’s statistics on the reported cases of family and sexual violence in 15 provinces.
“A total of 1107 cases were registered, and 104 arrest were made,” he said
He said 70 interim and permanent protection orders were served to the perpetrators, 120 cases were treated as civil, 143 were attended to by the village court, 157 were referred to welfare, clinics and counselling, and 517 cases were pending. According to last month’s report, Manus, Western, East Sepik, New Ireland, Chimbu, Gulf, Hela and Jiwaka did not submit their reports
Jiwaka and East Sepik have not properly set up their units. Gulf, Manus, Western and New Ireland are out of communication. Chimbu did not provide its statistics due to a change in the management.
Hela is closed because of the natural disaster and tribal fights.

It is in times of crisis the true worth of a leader is measured

19 April 2018.

FRANCIS NII KUNDIAWA – Madang, a town once dubbed as ‘Beautiful Madang’ and in even earlier days ‘The Pearl of the Pacific’ because of its scenic beauty has been experiencing serious civil unrest including murder and destruction of businesses and state property in recent times. This crime and disorder has disturbed the tranquil blue waters, large furry flying foxes, arrays of colourful crotons and hibiscus, pleasant hotel facilities and, perhaps most regrettably, the renowned friendliness of the local people. The latest incident involved the death of three local youths believed to have been murdered by settlers, a tragedy that led to further public panic, civil unrest and disruption to the town’s water supply. But, unlike major unrest in other years that continued for weeks, last week’s unrest was quelled in reasonable time with services and businesses quickly restored thanks to the presence and leadership of Bryan Kramer, the Member for Madang in the national parliament, along with police and other community leaders. Bryan Kramer played a decisive role in restoring peace and reinstating the water supply, a vital utility in an urban area which had been damaged during the unrest. Kramer went to the site of the water supply with police, PNG Water and PNG Power and assessed the damage to the water pump. PNG Power went to collect parts to replace those that were damaged, but didn’t return. Kramer didn’t leave. He stayed at the reservoir cajoling PNG Power personnel to return with the parts and get the pump fixed, only departing with the police after the water started flowing again.


Dept: Drug, alcohol abuse rising

April 19, 2018 The National Main Stories

ABUSE of alcohol and drugs has increased drastically in the country, Department of Justice and Attorney-General Secretary Lawrence Kalinoe, says. Kalinoe said the abuse of marijuana, especially among young people in villages, towns and cities had resulted in the upsurge in crime, violence and corruption. He was speaking during the opening of the two-day induction workshop by the National Narcotics Bureau on data and information collection in Port Moresby. “Drug abuse has spread to various age groups and the trend that it is spreading is very frightening and is a big threat to our future,” he said.
“Abuse of drug has led to the destruction of individual life, family units and the entire communities and it undermines national economies.” He said another consequence associated with intravenous drug abuse was the high risk of spreading HIV/AIDS. “The scope of the narcotics problems today in Papua New Guinea has only begun to be realised on the socio-economic front and there is no longer a question of social consequences of widespread drug abuse,” Kalinoe said. According to the coordinator of Rehabilitation, Treatment and Counselling, John Mark, there were new methods of consuming drugs already in use in some parts of the Highlands. Mark said people were preparing it with food and eating as well drinking them.


20 April 2018

The lure of the ‘kaikaiman’ – and the courage to speak & write truth

LAE – The greatest challenge facing journalism in Papua New Guinea is that there is no freedom of the press. Journalists need much courage to speak and write the truth and to know how to use the right medium to express their views. Almost everything that is printed in the press is scrutinised and controlled by the government or an agent in the newsroom – usually the editors. Every day, Papua New Guinean journalists face a big challenge as they have to write according to what their editors will accept, or they can get sacked for insubordination. In PNG, the term ‘kaikai man’ is used to refer to someone who writes propaganda in return for favours.

This syndrome is already deeply rooted and one cannot get away from it, even the reporter with full knowledge that someone is corrupt or lying will continue to write good about them. Glorifying parliamentarians and government bureaucrats is common in PNG. So how do we expect a graduate journalist to deviate from this trend, which continues year after year? The what, when, where, why and how questions we were trained to use have gone to the bunker. No journalist has the courage to ask such questions anymore. Journalists in PNG get assaulted and some get taken to court. Not because they did the wrong thing but because of standing up for the truth. And of course the truth hurts. The media has been suppressed by the very people it is supposed to keep in check and balance. So where stands democracy and media freedom in Papua New Guinea?

All in all, the media in PNG cannot be defined as free. We face a lot of challenges to find our worth in this society of ours.


B’ville HIV cases double in 5yrs

April 20, 2018 The National

THE number of people infected with HIV in Bougainville has doubled in the past five years.
This was highlighted by Catholic coordinator for HIV Stella Morokana during an HIV/AIDS awareness and testing event at Pitpit in Wakunai district on Monday. The diocese team conducted a HIV voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) on employees of the Raibro Construction Ltd, a firm undertaking a major road sealing project. Morokana said there were 53 registered cases at the Mary Mother of Hope VCT facility in Hahela Parish while Our Lady of Mercy VCT Facility in Arawa had 25 registered cases. The figures for St Vincent De Paul VCT facility in Buin and Buka General Hospital were not included. Morokana said in 2012, there were 23 HIV cases registered at Hahela.
By 2017, it had risen to 53. She said in most cases men were infecting their wives. She said more children were born with HIV as a result of infected couple not getting up-to date HIV/AIDS treatment. Catholic church health service in Bougainville as one of the key organisation combating the HIV/AIDS had been faced with funding and not enough HIV counsellors in past years.


Peace committee records 100 reported sorcery deaths

April 20, 2018 The National

THE peace committee of the Nahu-Rawa local level government in Raicoast, Madang, has recorded up to 100 deaths since 2012 related to sorcery. Committee chairman Vini Arihafa said the figure was for the killings reported to them. There were others killed and their homes burnt in the inland villages which were unaccounted for. Arihafa, a former primary school teacher, told The National that sorcery-related killings were ongoing despite a surrender ceremony between the Hausman and suspects’ factions held at Ramu Sugar Township in February last year. While waiting for the reconciliation ceremony to be held by the Nahu-Rawa local level government administration, four more people were killed. Arihafa said occurred at the Ranara Primary School on Tuesday last week.
“The incident occurred at the school grounds and forced the teachers and students to close the school indefinitely. Some teachers vacated the school in fear of their lives,” Arihafa said.


More Midwives Needed in the Country

Post Courier April 24, 2018

PAPUA New Guinea needs more midwives to save lives. This is for mothers and children during child birth, says University of Goroka’s (UOG) bachelor of midwifery program co-ordinator Paula Puawe.

“Child birth is not a disease and yet we continue to hear of big number of women dying during child birth because we do not have enough skilled midwives. “At the same time, there are a high numbers of infants dying from preventative diseases,” she said. Currently at UOG, there are 38 midwifery students studying under the program. According to Mrs Puawe, the midwifery program started in 2012 and has enrolled students from all over PNG. “Midwifery in the country is low so when we started this program, which is funded by DFAT, we started with 500 midwives being registered.

“Over the five years, we have trained more midwives and according to the PNG Nursing Council, there are more than 800 midwives registered in the country, however this is not enough,” she said.

She said the situation in the country is that there are 733 maternal deaths per 1000 live births which are too many PNG women dying every year and many more continue to die in the rural areas.

“Neonatal period is the period from birth to 28 days of life or the first month of life. This period is crucial for the mother and her baby as this is where midwives are required not nurses….


Funding cuts affecting church health services, says official

April 24, 2018 The National

SOME church health service centres are facing problems because of the cuts in their funding, an official says. Representatives of the centres around the country are attending their annual conference in Port Moresby. The church health service secretariat manages all church-run health facilities and training schools in the country. Chairman of church health service board Japalis Kaiok said cuts in funding were affecting their operations. “Most of us are experiencing issues with keeping the students and training going. Shortages in funds might affect the training programmes for this year,” he said. He, however, thanked the Minister for Health and HIV-AIDS Sir Puka Temu for supporting the church health services. “We thank the government for the continuous recognition of the Christian training institutions and church health funding,” Kaiok said.
Sir Puka said the government was prioritising health systems to meet the issues. “Our priority area is health and health systems, and we will be putting funds for all health programmes whether run by the government or a church,” he said.


Cult activities force school to suspend enrolment

April 24, 2018 The National

A HIGH high school has suspended grade 11 enrolment this year because of cult activities. The school is Aiyura National High School at Goroka, Eastern Highlands. Karl Puluma said the suspension of grade 11 was part of an effort to eradicate cult activities in the school. The suspension of grade 11 was among the three recommendations by a committee.
The recomendations are:

  • A complete shutdown of the school;
  • converting Aiyura into a college; and,
  • Stopping grade 11 enrolment for a year and allowing grade 12 students to leave without influencing the younger pupils.
    “We adopted the third recommendation and have now eradicated cult activities in Aiyura. We are a new, fresh and free Aiyura National High School,” Puluma said.

95% of PNG Population Live in High-Risk Malaria Areas

Post Courier, April 24, 2018

Nearly 95 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s populations live in areas of high risk for malaria transmission and Kuriva community in the Central Province is no exception, according to the health department. In commemorating World Malaria Day today, students attending the Kuriva Primary School were given access to early diagnosis and treatment at the school grounds. During a visit to the school today, Health Department’s Central Public Health Laboratory Quality Assurance officer Dorothy Abala told this paper that since the start of the screening program at the school ground on Monday this week, out of more than 70 children tested, about 27 were tested positive with Malaria parasites. “Many of these children did not look sick but after being tested, we found out that many of them had Malaria,” she said.


 Tightening the belt? Chinese soft power in Papua New Guinea
Development Policy Blog. By Sarah O’Dowd and Grant Walton on Apr 26, 2018
As PNG prepares to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has stated that his administration is entering “very tough negotiations” with Beijing to ensure that PNG’s interests are put first.

Concerns about Chinese investment in PNG are not new. Some argue that the increased flows of non-conditional and commercial investment from China have exacerbated corruption and mismanagement. Investments by Chinese companies in PNG, such as the controversial Ramu nickel mine, have received particular criticism. A small number of researchers, including the ANU’s Dr Graeme Smith (see here and here), are asking questions about the implications of growing Chinese investment on governance and development outcomes in PNG.

Their concerns are supported by analysis of data from the China Global Investment Tracker, which monitors Chinese investments of over US$100 million. It reveals that between 2005 and 2017, only two Chinese companies were awarded multiple contracts worth over US$100 million by the PNG government. These two companies, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), share one concerning trait: they were both blacklisted by the World Bank for fraudulent, corrupt, collusive, coercive or obstructive practices.

It must be noted that the World Bank blacklist has no impact on national or private deals and only prevents blacklisted companies from securing contracts that are financed by the World Bank. PNG is also far from the only country that has procured the services of CCCC and CSCEC, which are two of the largest companies in their industries globally. Yet the blacklisting casts doubt over their accountability and effectiveness.

CSCEC was blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud, corruption or collusion from 2009 to 2015 but was still engaged for a project in PNG in 2014; this was in addition to another project in 2016, the year after the ban was lifted. These projects were cumulatively worth at least US$430 million. While neither of these CSCEC projects generated significant controversy, the same cannot be said for CCCC investments in PNG.

Although CCCC and its subsidiaries were blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud from 2011 to 2017, it invested at least US$590 million through three separate projects in 2012, 2013 and 2015. While the latter two projects are reportedly on target, PNG is still suffering the fallout from the CCCC’s first project in PNG: the Lae port. While construction was ostensibly completed in late 2014 by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), a subsidiary of CCCC, the discovery of significant structural defects prevented the port from becoming fully operational. Government reports allegedly found that CHEC’s defective work will cost more than US$62 million to rectify, but the O’Neill administration has refused to publicly release the findings of government inquiries into CHEC’s mismanagement. By failing to do so, the PNG government has prevented the public from knowing about how mistakes occurred and what measures are needed to prevent similar errors in the future. [See the url above for the rest of this article]


Short on funds

April 26, 2018 The National

THE Government is yet to pay out to schools K97 million in tuition fees for the final term last year, plus another K50 million for the first term this year. Education Minister Nick Kuman said this was because of the increase in the number of enrolments caused by the TFF policy. He said while the allocation in the national budget remained at K600 million, the number of students enrolled in schools was continuing to increase. “When there is an increase in the enrollment rate, it is really hard for us to accommodate that K600 million. And it is all paid on a quarterly basis,” Kuman said.
Some schools have complained that they have not received their allocation last term and are pressing the education department to pay it. Kuman said the ministry had to take into consideration “elementary all the way up to the boarding schools” in allocating was being made available….
Lutheran missionaries

April 20, 2018 The National Letters [Responding to order that some Lutheran missionaries be deported or not permitted to return to PNG]

THE newspaper article, “No support for deported missionaries”, in The National on Monday (April 16) raises many questions and concerns. Our day-to-day contact with pastors, members, and churches of the Gutnius Lutheran Church is quite different than what was reported.
Our experience reveals that there is a high level of support for the missionaries, both past and present, of the Concordia Lutheran Professional Mission Services rather than “No support” as indicated by your headline. The Concordia Lutheran Professional Mission Services (CLPMS) was established in 1991 under the laws of Papua New Guinea to serve the people and churches of PNG.
It is the successor of New Guinea Lutheran Mission (NGLM) which was founded in 1948 to serve and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of the Enga. The NGLM helped found the Wabag Lutheran Church which eventually became the Gutnius Lutheran Church. As independence came in 1975, the NGLM was dissolved and ultimately became the CLPMS. The missionaries labelled as bad missionaries in the article have served the people in PNG in many capacities for many, many years: Pastors, translators, teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. They have engaged in many areas including theological education, Bible translation, creating literature for churches and schools, providing books and educational materials for churches and schools, providing training for pastors and teachers, AIDS awareness, human care, building airstrips in remote areas, construction and maintenance, addressing the sanguma problem and rescuing victims, earthquake relief, among many other things.
One American missionary who they attempted to deport in 2014 had spent his entire life translating the Bible into Ipili, a language of the Porgera area. But he had already died earlier that year after a long battle with cancer. One CLPMS missionary who is overseas and has been blocked from returning to PNG was even recognised by the Queen for her services to PNG. Was the Queen wrong when she recognised this woman for her services to PNG?
Do we have disagreements with some people in PNG? Yes, of course, as might be expected when people work together, especially when waste of resources or fraud are involved. Please understand: We have a responsibility to our sponsors and financial supporters in America and Australia.
But we will always stand for what is the best for the nation and the people of PNG and for our mission: to proclaim the Good News of our salvation through Jesus Christ.

Concordia Lutheran Professional 
Mission Services


Why the Church speaks on social and political issues

WHY does the church speak on social and political matters? This question betrays the belief that the spiritual has nothing to do with the mundane, with the worldly. The church’s sphere is the spiritual, so they claimed, so it should keep silent and be aloft over such worldly matters as politics, business and society in general. This way of thinking, however, is foreign to the mission of Jesus, because he has come to save the world—to renew everything, including social realities! In fact the end game of the plan of salvation is “the New Heavens and the New Earth”.

The Holy Book tells us: “According to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet 3:13) All things came from God and all things have to be brought back to him. So all reality, including the temporal order or the order of this world, will have to be permeated with the Spirit of God. “Our redemption has a social dimension because ‘God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between men’. To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 178)

Therefore the Holy Father clearly teaches: “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 183)

There are values that are needed in social life. These are truth, justice, peace and love. We need these in order to have a human society, that is, a society that is worthy of human beings. These virtues are to be implanted in all institutions in order that people can live and work together in harmony. These virtues are needed not only in the church and in families. They are also needed in politics and in business. Woe to us if there is no truth in politics. No business will prosper if there is no justice. There will not be peace if there is no justice. Love makes people at home not only in their homes but also in their workplaces. Not only are these virtues or values needed but they cannot exist alone. They all come together. The absence of one will not make the others effective. There can be no love if people are not truthful to each other. There is no justice if there is no love and vice versa.

These values—truth, justice, peace and love—are all kingdom values, that is, values of the kingdom of God that Jesus has come to bring about. All institutions therefore, including the Church have to strive to operate according these values.

In the light of this, we have the marching orders of Pope Francis: “The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 182)

Religion has a role in political debate, not in providing concrete political solutions, which lies outside the competence of religion, but to recall to society the objective moral norms as the basis of justice, truth, peace and love.

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