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Lutherans want one tenth of national budget

By Oseah Philemon PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 13, 2011) – The National Government has been called on to give to the Christian Churches in Papua New Guinea one tenth of the annual national budget so that they can use it to play their part in developing the country.

Bishop Zau Rapa, the acting Head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, made the call yesterday as the church prepares to mark 125 anniversary of the arrival of the first Lutheran missionary at Simbang in Finschhafen on 12 July 1886.

Members of the Church will celebrate the day starting today (Tuesday 12 July) until Sunday.

The Head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea Bishop Giegere Wenge is away on a visit to church partners in Germany.

Bishop Rapa said if the national government and Members of the National Parliament truly believed in the declaration in the National Constitution which states that PNG is a Christian Country, then they should allocate one tenth of the national budget each year to the churches to carry out development programs in support of the government.

He said the other side of the work of the churches in preaching the Holy Gospel can be left to the churches and their members.

Bishop Rapa said the work of bringing God’s Word to the people have not been an easy one for early Christian missionaries.

Early missionaries suffered much pain, diseases and met many enemies along the way, he said.

He said Papua New Guineans today enjoy the fruits of the hard work of overseas missionaries who brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this land.

"For this we should thank our overseas partner churches for what they did to bring the Holy Gospel to us," he said.

Bishop Rapa said the work of early missionaries and the partner Churches has made the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG one of the biggest in PNG and the Pacific region.

He said the church should work in unity with the Government and the private sector in developing the country bringing change and prosperity to PNG.

"What next for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG," Bishop Rapa asked.

He said the church had set itself the 2020 Vision which spells out the direction it should travel over the coming years.

The goals have been set, Bishop Rapa said.

He said under Vision 2020, ELCPNG will continue to work closely with the Government and other main line churches as well as overseas partners in expanding the work of the church in PNG.

He said it is now in the hands of the members of the church and leaders of the church to ensure the goals are implemented.

Bishop Rapa said the church should also do more to minimize the effects of social problems. He said more focus should also be made on fighting HIV/AIDS in PNG.

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