1 Peter 2:9 has always served as such an encouragement to me. This verse tells us who we are and what we are to do as believers: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” It’s the verse that immediately came to mind as I read this recent update of the Papatar church in PNG.
When the teaching was shared in 2008, not everyone in the Patpatar community on the coast was open to the gospel. In fact, the social persecution continued and was such that the unbelievers thought if they threw Tokiung, one of the church leaders, off of his land after the missionaries were finished living there full-time in 2017, they could stop the church from continuing. God had other plans.
Napantah, another Patpatar village had asked for missionaries to come and share the teaching with them. While the Patpatar believers had been teaching through the Bible in small hamlets to family groups, they didn’t feel ready for an outreach. When Tokiung was kicked off of his land, the church looked to the book of Acts and saw that God had used persecution for the spread of the gospel. They looked for ways God could be using this attack to grow His Church. While Tokiung had never lived there, his mother was from Napantah and had land there. So Tokiung moved his house from the coast to the mountain, established his home in Napantah and took some time to learn the culture of a new place and climate.
He may have been an outcast, but he was not alone. The Coastal Church sent people to help him in Napantah as he taught literacy and then taught through the Bible there. A church was born in this second Patpatar location in 2019. The Patpatar believers are living out their faith in a way that is evident and attractive. Recently a third outreach took place in collaboration between the two churches at the request of a family there. Lori Luse, one of the missionaries who served in Patpatar has been encouraged by how the believers have held onto the truths they’ve been taught in God’s Word through hardship and living life.