TEN years ago there was no Salvation Army presence in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea, but today The Army’s work is growing more rapidly there than in any other part of the country. The latest step forward for work in the area, the first Sepik District Congress, convened in Wewak on October 15th and included the enrollment of 17 soldiers.
Held in the open air beneath a scorching sun, the Congress consisted of more than 300 soldiers and children. Travel to Wewak took some Salvationists as long as two days, walking through dense bushland to meet a dinghy and then connecting with two buses. Salvationists were thrilled to be a part of The Salvation Army’s efforts in the region.
Papua New Guinea Territorial Commander, Commissioner Andrew Kalai, and Chief Secretary, Lt. Colonel Neil Webb, supported by Majors Bugave and Tomuna Kada, the District Officer and District Director of Women’s Ministries led the Congress. The theme for the meeting was ‘Alive in Christ – Seek First God’s Kingdom.’
Salvation Army work in Sepik began after disaster relief efforts served people affected by a tsunami in Aitape. An outreach was held and one man accepted the Lord. So moved, he then returned to his village to start a Salvation Army center (without the knowledge of Territorial Headquarters). He was present at the Congress.
Following the relief work, the then North Coastal Divisional Commander Major Sere Kala and the then field secretary (now the territorial commander), made preparations as the decision was made to buy land in Wewak for the site of the first corps (church) building.
Since its inception, 17 fellowships (outposts) have joined the corps at Wewak. Additionally, a district headquarters and a large water project, funded through Japan International Community Aid and The Salvation Army in Japan, serve the area.
On the Saturday morning, after an open-air meeting, approximately 150 soldiers took part in a march of witness through the town past the busy shops and marketplace. The march was led by Koki Band from Port Moresby and the Sepik District timbrellists.