MINISTRY TRAINING FOR POREBADA FAMILY : Part 2

Written by Min Tobitt

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Class of 2018 Graduates of Balasuna Bible College

Graduation Day for the 32 students at the Balasuna Bible College was held in early September and the young couple Jonathan & Theresa Bodibo from the Porebada Village in Papua New Guinea (see earlier story) have now graduated and have returned home again.

Some of their family members had travelled over to Balasuna for the ceremony,  so together with the Vanuatu students, a bunch of Aussies including the Oceania INC Chairman Pastor Ross Abraham, there was an international flavour to the Graduation service and the Solomon Islands National Pastors Conference which was also in session.

While the seven students from Vanuatu and Papua New New Guinea have flown home, the remainder of the Solomon students have also returned home to their villages mostly by truck or by boat. One couple will be pastoring a church on one of the man made islands at the far northern end of the island of Malaita. Others will be trying to catch a flight back to the far flung islands of Santa Cruz which are almost to Vanuatu….unless they can catch a boat that only travels once a month.

Some of the Australians present were from the INC Elevation Church on the Gold Coast. Led by Andy Backhouse the Global Care Director of the church,  teams from this church have been instrumental in helping with the renovations and building work around the College over the past year. So it was a time for them to join in the celebrations and also minister in the local Balasuna Christian School down the road.

Balasuna Christian School

 

If you would like to give to the work of INC South Pacific please use the following details:

  • Missions
  • BSB:  704 024
  • A/C No:  010000348

 

 

ROMA – VANUATU CONNECTION

Written by Min Tobitt

INC South Pacific is based on connecting, supporting and partnering – which is an underlying core principle of the International Network of Churches also known as Christian Outreach Centre.

While each South Pacific nation in the Network (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) is basically autonomous, they are also strongly connected to the original movement which was founded in Brisbane, Australia in 1974. Support in times of disaster, assisting the island churches to develop and grow to fulfil the task of bringing the people to salvation in Christ are all seen as a responsibility of INC.

Some connections are on a large scale such as the training College at Balasuna in the Solomon Islands. And some connections are small. One example of such a relationship has formed over the past three years between Mark and Heidi Westbrook, pastors of the INC Heart Church in the country town of Roma in Queensland and with Domenique & Melinda Vuti pastoring the Church on the Rock Church at Luganville on the island of Santo in Vanuatu.

Mark and Heidi discovered the Church when on a visit back in 2015. Their goal since then has been to assist Domenique and  Melinda to build a strong church as a base to reach out to Santo and other islands. They have provided support through prayer, encouragement, finance, and business opportunities. Even after a month of sickness and fever and 5 days in hospital for Mark following their visit in 2017, it has not deterred them from continuing on with the friendship. Another member of the Roma Church Richard Lobwein has spent time in Vanuatu setting Domenique up with a laptop and better communication facilities.

This year they sponsored Pastor Domenique to attend the recent INC Conference which was attended by many INC pastors from overseas. Following the Conference they took him home to Roma for a short time where he has been learning many new things to assist in developing his church and has ministered in some of the small country towns of western Queensland.

If you would like to give to the work of INC South Pacific please use the following details:

  • Missions
  • BSB:  704 024
  • A/C No:  010000348

 

Surprise visitor to Balasuna

2018 Leonard Letana with Ps Sam Ghobeiti from Iran visiting
Pastor Sam Ghobeiti with the College Principal Pastor Leonard Letana

Written by Min Tobitt

On Monday 30 July, 2018, the students and staff of the Solomon Islands INC School of Ministries, also known as the Balasuna Bible College received a surprise visit from a pastor from the other side of the world. Pastor Sam Ghobeiti, a Persian pastor who now lives in the USA, ministers to Persians in Iran and other parts of the world. At the moment, he is assisting with pastoring at the Persian Church part of the Networx (INC) Church, Springwood, Queensland.

Having to suddenly exit Australia for a few days for visa purposes, Pastor Sam chose to visit Solomon Islands and spend a few days at the Bible College at Balasuna and this was hastily arranged with all concerned. While at Balasuna, he was able to share with the students about life as a Christian in Iran where there is persecution.

Pastor Sam was also invited to speak and minister in the local church at Balasuna and was a blessing to them. After he returned, he spoke highly of his experience and would love to go back again taking a team with him.

2018 Ps Sam Ghobeiti from Iran with maybe Junior
Ps Sam Ghobeiti with Junior

 

 

If you would like to give to this ministry, please use the following details:-
Missions
BSB 704 024
A/C No. 01 00 00348
Ref: Balasuna

GREAT RESULTS FOR INC STUDENTS IN FIJI

Written by Min Tobitt

During July, the students of the Christian Outreach College (pictured} competed against 284 students in the Fiji Student Convention in Suva the capitol of Fiji and were very successful. The next step for approximately 15-20 of these students is to start fundraising so they can participate at the 2018 South Pacific Student Convention being held at Colloroy in Sydney where they will compete against schools in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and other South Pacific nations..

The students competed in a variety of areas such as drama, sports, and music and they were so excited at their success as they took home 240 ribbons for first to third places and 4 overall trophies – female sports, male platform, instrumental music and Scripture recitation. The lass who won the Scripture trophy memorised and recited the book of Proverbs, chapter by chapter and the book of John. How’s that for an amazing effort.

2018 Fiji Convention 2

Pastor Lucy Waqairagata attributed their great results to “their trust and reliance on God, consistency in training, their teachable spirits, the hard work of the staff and alumni students who helped in training and the great support from their families.”

The College exemplifies the value of Christian education in producing fine young Christian men and women. Several other INC churches around the South Pacific are now involved in building schools based on a Christian foundation and attendance at these schools are in demand.

Schools in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

 

If you would like to give to the work of INC South Pacific please use the following details:

  • Missions
  • BSB:  704 024
  • A/C No:  010000348

MINISTRY TRAINING FOR FAMILY FROM POREBADA

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

Last month, the Balasuna Bible College in the Solomon Islands again welcomed students from the other South Pacific nations of Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. This had not happened since 1998 when the Bible College closed down for a period of time during a time of civil unrest. (See previous posts on the College for more information).

Jonathan Bodibo with his wife Theresa and their two children (pictured above) have left their home in the village of Porebada in Papua New Guinea and their places of employment and have ventured forth to the Solomon Islands responding to the call of God to go to the Balasuna Bible College for four months of ministry training.

The Porebada COC/INC church is located in the largest village of the Central Province and is about 20kms from Port Moresby the capital of PNG.  Until early 2017, the church was pastored by Jonathan’s late older brother Pastor Oda and Jonathan has been a part of the church since he was a teenager, faithfully serving there as a cell leader and helping the pastors and leaders. The church has grown from its first Sunday meeting under a mango tree back in 2000, becoming an annexe church and now is a healthy active local church belonging to the International Network of churches with up to 500 people who attend.

2017 Ps Kaia Bodibo with Odo's sister
Pastor Kaia Bodibo (on right) with her sister-in-law

Pastor’s Oda’s wife Kaia recalls the early days of their experience. “ On Sunday night 7th May 1995 Oda was baptized by the Holy Spirit whilst we prayed in the room and this I believe was when the church started. The village at this time had only one mainline church and when Christian Outreach Centre came to the area they were the first Pentecostal church. We believed that God had asked us to start a church where Jesus was Lord and where His Holy Spirit was honoured. Persecution and opposition was experienced at first but we believed that if God be for us who can be against us and we became a part of COC/INC from 2000 until this day.”

2018 Porebada Church
Some of the local people at a meeting at the Porebada Village COC/INC Church

Pastor Kaia now pastors the Porebada church with the help of 5 assistant pastors. Central Province is a large province which stretches along the southern coastline of Papua New Guinea. Their vision for the church is to see the extension of God’s kingdom by planting more COC/INC churches along that coastline. They look forward to the return of Jonathan and Theresa after graduation in September to be a part of that vision in whatever way the Lord wants to use them.

2018 Porebada Church (3)
COC/INC Church meeting at Porebada Village

If you would like to give to the work of INC South Pacific please use the following details:

  • Missions
  • BSB:  704 024
  • A/C No:  010000348

KCs… reaching, teaching, keeping youth for Christ

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

There is a real buzz among the INC/COC youth in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. In December 2017, the village of Kondopina hosted approximately 1000 young people at the Highlands Regional Youth Camp where the Youth and the Kings Commandos leaders gathered together for training and fellowship.

 

Paul Kupu, the leader of the Highlands Kings Commandos is excited about what God has been doing with the young people in the region. He is competent at spreading the news by social media and soon will be heading to other areas of the Highlands to encourage the growth of this ministry. The enthusiasm is carried from the young people back into their homes and families bringing them to salvation and into the Christian fellowship.

So who are the King’s Commandos?

Under the covering of INC (then known as the Christian Outreach Centre) Keith & Cynthia Kenzler from Noosa in Queensland launched their ministry in Australia in the 1990s with the goal to instruct, challenge and inspire youth in areas of Bible truths, Christian service, leadership skills, and moral conduct through a camping program activities that youth enjoy. Yes, it does sound a bit like other groups but it does include a strong component for Christian service and leadership. It wasn’t long before they knew God was wanting them to take the program to the South Pacific nations where it was received with enthusiasm in PNG, Solomon Islands and in Fiji.

 

Several years ago, Cynthia took hold of the vision again for the South Pacific nations after being widowed and fighting a battle against breast cancer. She continues to train and organize the training element of the vision. As well as being involved at the recent Highlands Camp, she oversees the training in other areas of PNG and also the Solomon Islands.

 

At the opening of the Auki INC church in the Solomon Islands late last year, she was so encouraged to see the KC group there involved in the celebrations. She would welcome other Christian volunteers with a desire to minister in this way to come alongside .In her quiet faithful way, Cynthia has made a difference to the work of INC in the South Pacific. A number of former young Kings Commandos are now in pastoral ministry in their nations.

 

If you would like to give to the work of INC South Pacific please use the following details:

  • Missions
  • BSB:  704 024
  • A/C No:  010000348

Balasuna Business 2018

Written by Min Tobitt, INC South Pacific

Around 35 students are currently arriving for the 2018 session of the Balasuna Bible College…also known as the Solomon Islands INC School of Ministries. The starting date is Monday 30 April. Students from the different provinces of the Solomon Islands, and some from Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu are being welcomed and settled in by the Principal Leonard Letana and his wife Elizabeth and also  the INC South Pacific Chairman Murray Townsend, who will be lecturing them for the first two weeks.

 

 

One student couple have settled in already and are the first Australian couple to attend the College as students. Denaye and Jacob (alias ‘Yapie’) Grobler originally from Western Australia are members of the CityNet Church at Beenleigh, Queensland. In order to prepare for a possible future ministry in the Solomon Islands they are attending as students this year.

 

 

They have had a couple of extra weeks to settle in and help with getting the College ready.  In these photos, they are checking out the pigs that are raised to help support the needs of the College. However, most of the support for the students while at the College is through the donations of individuals and churches of INC Australia.

We shout out a big tribute of thanks to the volunteer workers from Elevation Gold Coast, Global Care and others who have been helping to renovate and refresh the College buildings which were built back in 1989.

 

 

We also thank all those who have contributed their time, their teaching gifts, their finances over many years since then.  Here’s a brief look at the history.

BRIEF HISTORY OF BALASUNA BIBLE COLLEGE

The Balasuna Bible College was the result of the vision of Innisfail COC led by Pastor Kevin Dales. A team of builders went there in 1989 and built the College and Murray & Diana Townsend were placed in charge, They served in that role for 10 years and during that time many pastors from the islands of the South Pacific were trained there. Over a 6 month period, lecturers from Australia and New Zealand assisted by spending two weeks each year to impart to and train the students.

There was a break of 6 years in the life of the College between 1999 and 2005 as a result of the ethnic tension that prevailed in the Solomon Islands. In 2006, the vision for the College was launched again with pastors like Murray Townsend, Santo Gullo and  Kevin Dales leading the way.

Innisfail COC was again involved and people and churches around Australia gave financial support as they sponsored students to be trained as pastors. There have been some attempts at more self-sufficiency and the students have only been from the Solomon Islands. Pastor Willie Tagadaena took on the administrative role of Acting Principal during 2006 & 2008 and then Pastor Leonard Letana was appointed the Principal.

Click on and place cursor over photos for identification

 

 

 

If you would like to give to this ministry, please use the following details:

  • Missions
  • BSB:  704 024
  • A/C No:  010000348
  • Ref:  Balasuna

HIGHLANDS EARTHQUAKE PAPUA NEW GUINEA

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

Positioned on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” the people of Papua New Guinea are not strangers to earthquakes and tremors. Over the past year there have been 400 earthquakes ranging from 1.5 to 7.5. Over the past week the earth has been shaking in the West New Britain area up to 6.9 magnitude with warnings of tsunamis. But life generally moves on as the people adapt to each situation.

However, on February 25 this year a 7.6 magnitude earthquake near Tari in the Southern Highlands has had a disastrous effect on a large area. Huge landslides have changed the shape of the mountain ranges as they slid down into river valleys covering village homes, burying many people and polluting the water supply. During the following weeks there were a reported 59 aftershocks of over magnitude 5. This has created fear, displacement of an estimated 35,000 people, roads being damaged and unemployment with the closing down of Oil and Liquid Gas companies until they assess any damage to their facilities.

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Food, water and medical supplies and water have been the priority with PNG, Australian and International Aid flowing in mostly by air transport. This has been made more difficult with limited communication and long standing deadly tribal fighting in some areas. On March 15, UNICEF estimated that 275,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance including 125,000 children. Some disturbing reports are now emerging concerning the health and welfare of women and children who have had to flee their villages.

The INC South Pacific Office in Australia has had limited communication with the pastors in the region and is in a position of waiting to assess what is being done and what their most urgent needs might be. Some reports from Pastor Ben Solu in Mendi, which is 100 kilometres away from the epicentre, spoke of a number of people in that town being buried by landslides and damage to housing. The foundations on his own house are all cracked and every time there is another tremor they wonder if the house will fall down. He has been told that two COC/INC churches in the Kutubu area have collapsed.

Pastor Alex Koyaiye from Kaupena sent through the following photos of road damage in his area which is a long way from the epicentre so it demonstrates the savage force of the earthquake.

Any further reports will be added to this INC South Pacific blog site. In the meantime pray for them.

 

TONGA TAKES A BATTERING

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

On February 3 2018, the strong tropical storm Cyclone Gita hit Tonga and left in its wake  flattened buildings and flooding. It was the most severe storm experienced in the last 60 years. Power and water are still not connected.


Some of our INC churches in New Zealand and Australia responded quickly with funds to assist the Nuku’alofa church under the leadership of Pastor Peni Mafi to purchase food and water supplies to give out aid to the people. The church people were also quick to get out and help with the clean up and repairs to the damaged homes

The church building survived the storm and is being used as the base for packaging up hampers of food and water and to house some families including Pastor Peni and his family whose homes have been flooded or damaged.

This powerful cyclone has been the cause of the huge surf on the Australian coastline and the eye of the storm is now headed for the west coast of New Zealand.

Papua New Guinea – Reaching the remote

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

The nation of Papua New Guinea is a land of contrasts. Approximately 330 churches belonging to the International Network of Churches are scattered through the rugged mountain ranges, along huge  river valleys, in the main cities and town settlements and to the remote idyllic islands surrounding the mainland. Ministering the gospel to these areas faces many challenges. Some walk great distances to minister or go to church. Travelling by road or by sea can be dangerous. Flying is expensive. Now that some  pastors have phones that can record what they are doing, we receive stories of their outreach and ministry in some of the remotes areas of this amazing country.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, Pastor Rommy & Ruth Feton (Deputy President of Christian Outreach Centre, PNG) travelled from Alotau by boat to minister to a newly planted church Lighthouse COC on one of the islands near the southern tip of the mainland. It was a time of preaching and teaching and ministering to the village people.

Ruth reported that one of the village women Nancy Douglas also organized an activity for the women which attracted extra numbers. Time was made for the older women to teach the girls some skills such as weaving baskets, making grass skirts, cooking rice balls and how to use a shell to peel the taro from the gardens.

 

If you would like to give toward the ministry of INC South Pacific please use the following details:-

  • Missions
  • BSB 704 024
  • A/C No. 01 00 00348