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Papua New Guinea

Map of Papua New Guinea.htm

Papua New Guinea

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Papua New Guinea is located in the southern hemisphere among the islands of the Pacific known as Oceania. Consisting of the eastern portion of the large island of New Guinea and about 600 islands of the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville, Papua New Guinea is a widely diverse state with more than 750 different languages. New Guinea was named by a Spanish explored in 1545. For much of the last two hundred years different parts of these islands were controlled by The Netherlands, Germany, Japan and Australia. The latter nation gave Papua New Guinea its independence in 1975; however relations between the two remain close. Today Papua New Guinea is an independent state with a constitutional monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II and a single legislative body known as the National Parliament or House of Assembly.

The islands which make up Papua New Guinea cover an area of about 462,000 sq km (178,000 sq miles), this together with the sometimes rugged terrain and the high number of indigenous languages present unique opportunities for development and mission activity. The official languages are English, Pidgin and Motu.


In terms of the religious population the indigenous beliefs claim approximately one-third of the population. The remaining two-thirds are divided between the Roman Catholic tradition (22%) and various Protestant denominations (44%).

Stone-Campbell Presence

The history of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Papua New Guinea can be traced to pioneer efforts of the Overseas Missions Board of the Australian Churches of Christ. During the Second World War a number of soldiers had been in the islands and by the mid 1950s these veterans were asking “why not begin a new mission field in Papua or New Guinea?” The Australian Churches of Christ Federal Council authorized an exploratory survey in 1957 and selected a suitable area. In June of the following year Frank Beale and Harold Finger, both experienced cross-cultural missionaries, formed an advance party to establish a mission station. The first site was at Tung in the Ramu River area on the north shore of the big island. Among the difficulties in beginning the new work was the development of an intentional mission strategy, overcoming the dominant spirit culture, language and the terrain. The people of Papua New Guinea could see the value of education as way out of poverty and towards a plain of equality. Thus primary education became a valuable opportunity for mission work and conveying the Good News. Within six years the work was established in six villages with schools in four of them. Sawmills, airstrips, hospitals and more were established to aid the work. At one time the work grew to include twenty-seven missionary personnel on the field.

After the initial success of the missionaries it was time to transfer responsibility to the indigenous people. By 1970 leadership classes were being held to train pastor-leaders and by 1974 a pastor’s school was begun. Land was given to build a school in Gandep but it would not be until the 1990s that this gift would be utilized. Today Gandep Bible College is preparing students for work in the local churches. The first graduation is slated for November of 2003.

By the early 1970s there were at least a dozen congregations with more than five hundred members and at least two thousand attending services. By 1980 membership had grown to three thousand and by 1990 to six thousand. That number has continued to grow. By the end of the 1960s a Church-Mission Council was established to give the churches and opportunity to see how the Mission operated and after a few years this council developed into a Conference of Churches. In this way the local church was strengthened and given opportunities to grow and mature independent from the mission. In 1981 the first Conference of Churches of Christ in Papua New Guinea was held at Gokto. The Conference office is located in Madang. Frank Beale continues to serve in advisory capacity assisting in the administration of the Conference office and work with Gandep Bible College. Frank Sanders is preparing to go from the Australian Global Mission Partners to further support the work in Papua New Guinea.

In the early 1970s the American a cappella Churches of Christ began laying the foundation for a new work in Papua New Guinea in Lae, south east of Madang. Joe Cannon was the first of many American missionaries who were also joined by evangelists from Australia, Canada, and Japan. Work eventually spread to Port Moresby, Goroka, the Papuan Waria Valley and the Chimbu and Enga Provinces. Robert Mingo became the first national preacher to be supported by the a cappella Churches of Christ. Education has also been a significant tool for evangelism and the a cappella tradition has established Goroka Bible School in Goroka; Leadership Training by Extension from Port Moresby; and Melanesian Bible College in Lae. 1982 statistics showed 122 a cappella congregations with more than 2,700 members.

The American Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ began a translation ministry in the mid-1970s which is today known as Pioneer Bible Translators. The first foreign field entered by Pioneer Bible Translators was Papua New Guinea when missionaries David and Sharran Pryor, John and Bonita Pryor, and Ron and Lisa Augsburger began work there in 1977. Since that time more than seventy-five missionaries have gone to Papua New Guinea to translate the Word of God into the indigenous languages. Since 1990 the full text of the Bible has been available in Pidgin and since 2000 the full New Testament has been translated into Kire. Many other portions and books of the Bible have been translated into other languages through the efforts of Pioneer Bible Translators and others.

The International Churches of Christ have three congregations in Papua New Guinea.

Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
October 2003

Revised Decenber 17, 2013 by Gary Holloway

For further historical reference:

Partners, One Hundred Years of Missions Overseas by Churches of Christ in Australia, 1891-1991, edited by Keith Bowles, Vital Publications, Australian Churches of Christ, 1990.


Contact Information

A. National Office

Papua New Guinea Conference of Churches of Christ
P.O. Box 1080
Madang, Papua New Guinea

B. Congregational Information

See office listed above.
For a cappella Churches of Christ:
Web site:
Belaire Church of Christ, Tullahoma, Tennessee:
Web site:

San Leandro Church of Christ
601 MacArthur Blvd.
San Leandro, CA 94577
Telephone: 510.568.7062
Web site:

For American supported Christian Churches and Churches of Christ see Pioneer Bible Translators, below.

C. Educational Institutions

Gandep Bible College
Send correspondence to:
P.O. Box 1080
Madang 511
Papua New Guinea

Melanesian Bible College (in Lae)
Send correspondence to:
Highland Street church of Christ
443 South Highland
Memphis, TN 38111
Telephone: 011-(675)-472-5613
Web site:

D. Social Service Ministries
E. Magazines/Periodicals
F. International Ministries

Australian Churches of Christ Global Mission Partners
PO Box 341
114 Henley Beach Road

Telephone: (+61) 8 8352 3466
Fax: (+61) 8 8234 5373
Web site:

A cappella Churches of Christ
New Tribes Mission Papua New Guinea
Web site:
Web site:

Pioneer Bible Translators, Papua New Guinea Branch
P.O. Box 178
Madang 511
Papua New Guinea
Telephone: +675 852 2440
Fax: + 675 852 2506
Web site:

G. Conventions/Lectureships/Assemblies/Forums/Conferences

See Conference office listed above.

H. Points of Interest