Lutheran Papua New Guinea (PNG) Bishop Jack Urame has thanked Lutherans in Australia and New Zealand for their prayers and support following recent deadly earthquakes and landslides in his country.
More than 100 people were killed and hundreds of others were injured after a 7.5 magnitude quake and subsequent aftershocks and landslides struck PNG’s Southern Highlands and Hela provinces in late February.
‘Thank you so much for your concern and your expression of solidarity and prayers for us, especially the people affected by the earthquake’, Bishop Urame, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG), wrote to LCA Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission Glenice Hartwich.
The devastation and total loss of life has been difficult to measure due to the remoteness of affected areas and inaccessibility to relief caused by landslides and infrastructure destruction. There has been widespread disruption to services and access to food and clean water has been limited. The leadership of ELC-PNG is working with other churches to assess people’s needs and is inviting members to provide cash and goods in kind.
Mrs Hartwich said the LCA/NZ had a partnership in the gospel with the ELC-PNG that spanned more than 130 years. ‘Many Australian and New Zealand Lutherans have served … side by side with our brothers and sisters in PNG in the mission of God’, she said.
‘That partnership continues. As a member of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand you have ways to share Jesus’ love with our partners in PNG.’
Bishop Urame said the Christian church was ‘moved by our faith and our conscience to extend God’s love and peace to those in desperate need’.
The LCA will support the PNG relief effort in two ways. LCA International Mission will give direct assistance to ELC-PNG, while Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) will commit $20,000 to the Churches Partnership Program in PNG. ALWS Community Action Manager Jonathan Krause said a Rapid Assessment Team had gone to affected areas last month to assess the impact on households, as part of coordinated interdenominational action by PNG churches.
Members of the LCA can:
• Pray for the ELC-PNG leadership, including Bishop Jack Urame, General Secretary Mr Bernard Kaisom and Director of Inter-Church Relations and Ecumenism Pastor Kinim Siloi, as they determine the best ways to help affected people
• Pray for people who have lost loved ones and for those who are cut off from vital supplies
• Give a gift through LCA International Mission (www.lcamission.org.au/png), which will be sent to the ELC-PNG as part of its response to help people affected by the disaster
• Give a donation to ALWS to be sent to support the joint effort of Christian churches in PNG (www.alws.org.au and click on ‘donate’)