Warabung, 2019 Timothy Lutheran, St. Louis, MO

        As the years pass, God repeatedly reminds us of the joys and challenges of life in His service.  Nearly one hundred missionaries who once served the Gutnius Lutheran Church (GLC) of PNG gathered at Timothy Lutheran Church in St. Louis in July 2019 (picture above) to renew relationships, worship together and hear about some of the current projects and issues of the mission they have been a part of over the past sixty years.  Exhilarating fellowship combined with uplifting worship contrasted sharply with news of sorcery and torture in Enga and the multiple fires which have destroyed buildings at Highlands Lutheran International School.

      The company of people at Warabung came from all over the United States, with representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Washington state, not to mention those from closer states like Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri as well as the two guests from PNG.  Age range varied from a welcome group of missionary children, now adult professionals and parents themselves, to Jill Hintze, one of the original missionaries in Enga in 1949.  In addition, Dan Kunert made a humorous but touching presentation paying tribute to members of the fellowship who have died over the past several years.

      The fellowship was exhilarating as missionaries, their adult children and at times their grandchildren joked, sang, remembered and shared past experiences and even planned future adventures.  Several persons recounted both pleasant and challenging memories of returning to the USA after growing up in PNG as third culture kids, which will be the focus of the 2021 bung in Boise ID. 

Former students and teachers of Highlands Lutheran International School.

       The worship was uplifting, from modern popular choruses to traditional hymns to insightful messages centered on the theme of the Spirit of Jesus Christ as the “water of life.”  And formal presentations from Martin and Marie Dicke, Roy and Judy Schache and Ron and Mary Anne Rall helped update those gathered with current collaborations between PNGMS and the Gutnius Lutheran Church of PNG.

      Challenges in the GLC continue and abound.  Martin Dicke made an informative presentation on the spread of sangumaamong the Enga.  Highlands Lutheran International School (formerly Highlands Lutheran School) was plagued by serious fires in 2018 and 2019, causing Governor Ipatas to step in as Chairman of the School Board and support reconstruction.  Meanwhile, the GLC itself has been divided for many years now and continues to be so, with two bishops, small splinter groups and decreasing membership.

      Current and former missionaries to the GLC have much to pray for.  GLC members witness continually to the idea that the missionaries brought the saving news of Jesus Christ, but spiritual, political and physical challenges of all sorts need the guidance of the Holy Spirit – in the lives of the missionaries as well as in the lives of those in the GLC.