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

 

A Taste of Tonga – a special relationship

Nuku’alofa with a population of 24,500 is situated on the island of Tongatapu and is the capital city of the kingdom nation of Tonga. The remainder of the mostly Polynesian 108,000 population are scattered over 52 of the 176 islands of this small South Pacific nation.

Peni & Ma'ata Mafi

Pastors Peni & Ma’ata Mafi are the pastors of the small but growing Nuku’alofa INC church, also known as Christian Outreach Centre. Recently they received a visit from Pastor Maurice and Wendy Ritchie and Pastor Ben Cherry from INC churches in New Zealand. Over the past 8 years a special relationship has developed between the two fellowships. While acknowledging the support of other friends and churches in Australia, Maurice and Wendy and the New Zealand churches have provided finances and expertise in the building of the church and have stood alongside them and encouraged them through some difficult times. And now they are seeing the fruit.

After a week of meetings in October with church leaders, young people, musicians, a social night with couples and a Sunday morning service which was packed and full of life, Wendy writes, “ To be part of this work is an absolute joy. It has been wonderful to see the health, growth and development of the congregation in spirit and in numbers and to see these generous, gracious people loving God with their whole heart, in the building that they have built with their own hands, with a little help from friends. Congratulations Pastor Peni and Ma’ata.”

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Gathering momentum in the Solomon Islands

Written by Min Tobitt, INC South Pacific

COLLEGE GRADUATION

A total of 21 students graduated at the School of Ministries at Balasuna. These students have returned to ministering in their villages or planting new churches. Since May, they have been living at Balasuna receiving teaching from local and Australian pastors in study areas of doctrine, Bible, Christian living and ministry foundations. Applications for next year’s course have already been received.

 

NEW CHURCH BUILDING AT AUKI

Several years ago, Pastors Levi and Melody Lauasi had his land, church and home buildings at Auki in Malaita taken from him by other members of the family. He graciously let them have it and set about obtaining new land and a new building with contributions from family, friends and fellow Christians some from Australia.

 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND CHURCH OPENING

In October, the attractive building was officially opened as they hosted the National Conference. A big crowd of believers celebrated with singing and dancing and praising God. The Guest Speaker from Australia Ps Kindah Greening helped to officially open the building and gave a word of prophecy for the church. Other welcome guests from Australia were Murray Townsend, INC South Pacific Chairman and Cynthia Kenzler, International Commander of KC’s International Youth Ministry and Frank Styles, Solomon Islands School of Ministries,

Ashes & Hope – the rise & fall of a Highlands church

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

In December 2001, an old rundown sawmill workshop situated an hour south of Mount Hagen in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea began its transformation. It became the home of the Kaupena COC/INC congregation under Pastor Alex and Jerrie Koyaiye.

During the next 8 years it was transformed from an old kunai grass building strewn with old engine parts, oil and grease into a colourful house of God where the local Christians worshipped, prayed and celebrated.

Souls were saved, people healed and delivered and the church hosted many camps, crusades, conferences, training sessions and meetings of pastors. The church operating as a base for the Southern Highlands churches also housed musical and office equipment.

On March 21st 2017, disaster struck. Motivated by jealousy, human hands set fire to the buildings which also included the pastor’s residence and vehicle. The local people stared in disbelief as an estimated five million kina worth of buildings and equipment went up in smoke.

2017 March 21 Kaupena church2017 March 21 Kaupena church (3)

Payback was the cry and intent of the locals and some from further afield, when they saw what happened. However, the amazing thing is that Pastor Alex by the grace of God, stepped in to prevent such action and declared his forgiveness of the perpetrators (who he knew well), and belief that God would provide even better in the future.

So at the moment the church people are having their church services under a blue tarpaulin, learning what God is teaching them through this experience and believing in the goodness of God. Pastors at the National Conference in September ministered their love and encouragement.

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Ps Alex & Jerrie Koyaiye

 

Highlands gathering: Papua New Guinea

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

During the last week of September 2017 several hundred Pastors and Leaders from the far flung islands, the coasts and the highlands of Papua New Guinea gathered together at a Catholic high school property 30 minutes out of Mt Hagen for the annual COC/INC National Conference and AGM.

 

Hosted by the churches in the Highlands, the Conference delegates settled into the accommodation for the week. The generosity of the Highlanders was evident wherever you looked. Bags of freshly harvested vegetables were piled around the buildings. Groups of white chickens were huddled here and there ready for the cookpot and the local church women gathered in the kitchen ready to feed all the delegates. For the final meal on the final day, three pigs were also cooked in a mumu and added to the menu. Each morning, a generous couple Sam and Samantha provided and prepared a breakfast of hot coffee, bread and eggs.

As is the custom in PNG, the colourful stage was loaded with beautiful flowers and bright balloons and drapes. There was an expectancy at each of the Conference meetings and in the evenings the large auditorium filled up with members of the local churches joining in as well. Praise was energetic and loud and worship times were stirring and meaningful. Times of ministry were approached with respect and hunger.

For some of the meetings, the preaching platform was shared with some of the visitors from Australia which included the Oceania INC Chairman Ross Abraham and pastoral team from the Elevation INC Church in Sydney. Director of Global Care Peter Pilt also accompanied them for their short visit. Murray Townsend and Min Tobitt representing INC South Pacific were there for the five days which included meeting with leadership as well.

 

One significant decision at the AGM was the decision to pursue the establishment of the Human Development Foundation which places the movement in a position to obtain government assistance in providing services for the welfare of the local church communities.

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The National Oversight endorsing the HDF documents.

INC Churches in the South Pacific

FIJI Lautoka (Westcity)
INC Westcity Church in Lautoka, Fiji

There are an estimated 450 INC churches throughout the South Pacific, the majority of them being in Papua New Guinea with its larger population. There are also churches in Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga. Keeping track of the number of INC churches is not easy. They can spring up overnight following outreach meetings in some remote village. Or a church may be planted out from a larger church in one of the cities.  And then there is the down side where some may just disappear because of isolation, young people moving to the cities and outside influences. Many still use the name of COC (Christian Outreach Centre)

Some rural churches in Vanuatu and Fiji.

Not all INC and COC churches have buildings but there is a great variety in the ones who do have their own building.  Small buildings made of bush materials can be found in many villages where the people often sit on the ground and then they progress to making wooden benches to sit on. Highlands churches are closed in for warmth while coastal churches tend to allow the air flow through. In Fiji, government standards are stricter and most church buildings are of a permanent nature.

Some town and city churches in Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Their goal is always to build a more permanent building even if they are still quite small. Larger churches are found in the cities or towns and plastic chairs are used to provide seating.  In the cities, sometimes property is rented until they are able to build their own building.  Their love of colour and decoration is always evident in their buildings with flowers, banners and curtains and even to the choice of tiles for their floors.

In their church services, the love of worship and praise and the welcome given make it easy for visitors to join in, even if the language is foreign to them.

 

Calendars & Conferences

 

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Provincial Women’s Conference, Manus Island

WRITTEN BY MIN TOBITT, INC SOUTH PACIFIC

Gathering together for conferences, crusades and “boot camps” provides life, inspiration, encouragement and accountability for the INC pastors in the South Pacific nations. Many of them are isolated in the mountains or on an island; some have had to face disasters such as cyclones, droughts, tsunamis or sickness. Conferences are held yearly on a national level where guest speakers from Australia or other nations are invited. Women’s and Youth Conventions are held from time to time on a regular basis.  Their regional and provincial gatherings are also valuable times where they are also able to discuss matters of importance to them and they also hold Crusade type meetings at night.

 

Photos: Youth Conference in Highlands of PNG;  National Conference Fiji; Youth Conference, North Vanuatu; Women heading to a Regional Women’s Conference in PNG.

INC Fiji held their Biennial Conference in May 2017 where they gathered at the Navua Garden of Joy church. Guest speakers were Oceania Chairman Pastor Ross Abraham, International Director of Global Care Pastor Peter Pilt and Pastor Iliesa Tamaniyaga from New Zealand.

 

Fiji National Conference May 2017

Coming Conferences for INC South Pacific are:

  • August 16                         FIJI National Women’s Conference
  • September 4-7                 VANUATU (Southern Provinces) at  South Tanna.
  • September 26-29            PAPUA NEW GUINEA at Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Prov.
  • October 3-6                     SOLOMON ISLANDS at Auki, Malaita Province.
  • December 8-12               VANUATU (Northern Provinces) at Luganville, Sanma Prov.