Highlanders meet relatives of missionaries
By Riggo Nangan
Hugs and tears of joy flowed as relatives of highlanders converted to the Lutheran faith by the Morobean missionaries nearly 100 years ago met relatives of the missionaries. Church elders, followers and relatives of Lutheran converts from Raipinka, Benabena, Asaroka, in Eastern Highlands; Monono, in Chimbu; and Tiria, in Western Highlands, travelled to Lae.
They converged on Tobo parish, in the Burum-Kuat LLG in the hinterlands of Finschhafen district, Morobe, to take part in the centenary celebration of the first batch of missionaries who took Christianity into the highlands.
Tobo parish was the venue where the first batch of 30 missionaries was commissioned by early German missionaries on June 8, 1911. The history of missionary work then was depicted in drama and narrated by church elders. More than 5,000 Lutherans from Morobe, the five highlands provinces and some from other provinces celebrated the anniversary from June 1-10.
Lutherans from the highlands could not say much but hugged the hosts with tears and said “thank you” for bringing the gospel to them.
They were able to meet the immediate relatives of the first teacher from Tobo, Quewayong Bisiu, who was instrumental in the groundwork for the early German missionaries to settle at Tobo and establish a missionary training faculty in early 1910. The pioneer missionary’s family was at the forefront of contributing towards establishing a plaque commemorating the event. Thirty pigs and cows were slaughtered, with food from the garden and store adding to the feast.
The Morobe provincial government contributed K20,000 while another K20,000 came from Lutherans in Lae. The highlands Lutherans and those from other provinces gave K10,000 during the week-long gathering.