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PNG pastors clear rubbish where others have failed

July 30, 2007:

Heaps of rubbish have now been cleared from around Goroka market

An initiative by an evangelical Christian group in a remote area of Papua New Guinea has led to a town's “transformation” through introducing community rubbish collection for the first time. The work was done in association with the Evangelical Alliance of PNG – which ARC has worked with and supported for some years.

Town Cleaning

On Friday 22 June 2007 a dozen pastors and several members of their congregations walked the streets of Goroka to collect rubbish. They were armed with gloves, rubbish bags, spades and a conviction that collecting rubbish was another way of present the Gospels to the people of Goroka.

Both the bus stop near the market and the entrance to the National Park had piles of rubbish that had been there for ages, and had begun to smell, as well as to attract vermin. Although the town authority workers and contractors had occasionally tried to make inroads into the heaps, they had never quite got rid of them, and there were more layers of rubbish being added daily.

The pastors toured the town, telling people why they should keep their environment rubbish-free
On the cleanup day, the pastors were able to work together to remove all the piles.

“They knew they had to dig deep to remove the age-old deposits of rubbish,” the group said in a statement. “But they agree that by digging deeper to remove the dirt they are actually removing the sins that have been buried over the period of time.”

“It was a triumphant moment when all the stinking pile of age old rubbish was removed and loaded to a truck for the dump.”

Later several of the pastors toured the town in a church vehicle belonging to the Evangelical Brotherhood Church, explaining through a loudspeaker what they had done and why, and appealing to the general public to help keep the town clean in future.

How it started

The awareness-raising process that resulted in this program began with the consultation on the theology of the environment held in Goroka, in May 2003 and the follow-up workshop in April 2004 which together led to production of the handbook "Christians Caring for the Environment in Papua New Guinea". The whole process was coordinated by the Evangelical Alliance of PNG, led by EAPNG General Secretary David Kima and supported and encouraged by ARC.

The initiative in Goroka itself stemmed from a declaration made one Sunday earlier in the year by the Goroka Pastors Fraternal. Their mission was that Goroka town should be transformed – by the people working in simple, godly ways. The aim of the pastors was to make Goroka a “peaceful and God fearing town”

“Goroka Pastors genuinely believe that God’s presence will be felt in Goroka when they unite and work together both in spiritual and physical programs and activities,” they stated.

Goroka is the capital of the Eastern Highland Province, surrounded by steep mountains, and covered in rainforest.

Goroka Pastors Fraternal

Every Thursday since early 2005, the members of Goroka Pastors Fraternal have been meeting and praying for issues affecting their town, province and country.

In October 2005 for example, they successfully organized and coordinated the Prescription for Hope seminar & workshop on HIV & AIDS at University of Goroka in partnership with Medical Ambassadors International & Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

They believe that:

• Goroka will be a peaceful and God fearing town
• Goroka will be a holiday destination for all people
• Goroka will be a clean and beautiful town
• It is possible to achieve transformation, through unity in the body of Christ


Their motto comes from Psalm 133: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity”.

Future Plans

The pastors agreed:

1. to do this clean up on a regular basis, in order to keep Goroka town clean

2. to involve congregation members and other Christians

3. to host a conference on transformation – both physical and metaphysical - in the very near future

National Impact

"The PNG Ministers and Pastors Fraternals are emerging as the largest unifying body of the many Pentecostal and fundamental churches present in the country. It is also now engaging in the HIV and AIDS response through workshops for the ministers and pastors. In some provinces, membership is as high as 300 pastors and ministers representing up to 60 different churches in 200 different congregations. Networking workshops have beenorganized by provincial Churches Fraternal in NCD, Madang and Hagen. In NCD, thisgroup meets weekly to discuss issues that impact on the churches." Milestone 107 Review of Churches and Church Engagement, Australia 2006.

Links

Link here to read a story about environment campaigning by PNG church leaders, in October 2007. Link here to read the Goroka Declaration, written and signed in 2003 by Christians in PNG, promising to protect the environment in PNG through education, advocacy, motivation and practical support.

Link here to learn about the Environmental Handbook for PNG Christians, written in pidgin.

Link here to download Christian Caring for the Environment (2.6MB).

Link here to learn more about the World Bank's environmental/biodiversity work with the Evangelical Alliance and other Christian organisations in PNG.

Link here to link to the website for the Evangelical Brotherhood Church in PNG.



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Related pages

Environment Handbook for PNG Christians
Evangelical Christians in PNG have worked together to produce a handbook on how they can protect the environment according to their own beliefs
Goroka Declaration on the Environment
An inter-church commitment to care for the environment in Papua New Guinea - undergirded by the Evangelical Alliance of PNG.
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