In August 2019, I had the privilege of travelling to PNG for 10 days with Shaun Murray from New Hope Church Brisbane. Shaun had connected to Life in the Spirit Ministries, PNG, a few years ago when he was doing the first every solar installation in PNG! Through that connection, Pastor David Dii, their international overseer, had come to Australia & preached at New Hope Church Brisbane a couple of times, and he has now planted a church in Gatton, QLD and is planning on planting churches in Brisbane & many other parts of Australia. In PNG they have over 400 churches, with 30,000 people in attendance, and their Church in Port Moresby has over 3,000, and is the largest church in PNG. Through our friendship, they had invited us to preach at their annual crusades. We were welcomed at the airport by about 100 smiling PNG happy faces! They presented us with gifts & had a media team taking videos & photos, it was a great insight into how they welcome & honour overseas guests. We had a chance to meet with many of the Pastors & leaders from Life in the Spirit Ministries, so many of them have amazing testimonies of coming to faith in their church after being addicted to alcohol & gambling etc. And many of them are now successful business people! It’s really good fruit!
On our 2nd day we flew to Goroka, in the highlands and were welcomed at the airport by the local church members. Once again, a massive celebration and a great honour. The first night of the Crusade there was about 2000 people there, and 110 came to the altar! Some first time commitments, some recommitments. There was a real repentance and many had tears as they knelt up the front. At first, no-one came out the front at the altar call, and I waited on stage, and asked again, who wants to give their life to Christ? Then one man came, then another, then they came slowly & the band played worship for about 20 minutes while they came. So beautiful to see many men, women children, crying on their knees weeping at the altar. I lead them in the Sinners prayer & prayed for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It was my first ever Crusade I had preached at and I was overwhelmed with love for these precious souls!
The next day we went to a small village and saw a performance from the “Asaro Mud Men,” a tribe that covers themselves in mud and performs a show for tourists. They asked Pastor David to share a message with them, and their whole village, about 100 people accepted Christ! Pastor David sent a bus to their village that day & many of them came to the 2nd night of the Crusade.
Shaun shared his testimony on night 2, and they were captivated by his story! The crowd was even bigger! 16 people came to the altar and similar to the night before, it took a long time for the first ones to come to the altar. It was 3 teenage girls, walking arm in arm who came up first. Then others slowly made their way as the worship team played. Then Shaun felt there was one more person on his left who hadn’t responded. And one lady made her way to the front. Once again there was tears and genuine repentance as they kneeled so humbly at the altar. It was Shaun’s first time preaching a full message like that, ever! Many told us that they had never thought a white man could be addicted to drugs & at rock bottom. I thought of the verse, “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11. Shaun’s testimony was so powerful & I could really see that God was raising him up to be a preacher & evangelist! It’s prophetic that they kept calling him Elder Shaun or Pastor Shaun in PNG, even though he doesn’t officially have a title like that, God is raising him up, he has the call of God on his life!
Both of us were pushed out of our comfort zone on this trip. But we knew we had many people praying for us, and that when you go anywhere to minister, God’s anointing will strengthen you & give you the right words to say. The photos & the videos from our trip show all the best bits, but there were times when we were both tired, hot, drenched in the rain, sick in the tummy, pushed to the limit, missing our families etc. I told Shaun I’ve learned on Mission trips that, “Everything is subject to change without notice!” And we need to be ready in season & out of season to preach the gospel, we both grew spiritually so much on this trip, and we have memories that we will never forget!
On the Monday that we had arrived, the Christian Prime Minister of PNG had lead a National day of Prayer & Repentance. It’s something they do every year, and I thought it was strategic that we arrived on the day this had happened. The Lord had put 2 Chronicles 7:14 on my heart as part of the message I would share on this trip. I noticed on that day that it’s illegal to buy or sell alcohol on that day!
Pastor David is the international overseer, and his wife Tabitha is the National Overseer. She is currently based in PNG while he is feeling called to establish the ministry in Australia. Tabitha is a beautiful woman of God and they love her so much. She reminds me of my wife!
In 2005, Pastor David had a visitation from the Lord and felt the Lord say to him to preach a Gospel of righteousness and repentance. He is very strong on the message that if you come to Christ, you must repent from your sin, and live life in the Spirit. He speaks regularly about how Christians should not get drunk, or be sexually immoral or steal or any ungodliness. He is very strict about not tolerating sin on the life of the believer. I’ve been impressed to see how outspoken he is about this. So many ministries focus so much on the grace of God, but don’t speak out about repentance from sin. I’ve been seeking the Lord about how this applies to Aussie Culture. In PNG they have a great respect for pastors, they treat them like a chief of their tribe and they follow what the Pastors tells them. The culture in Australia is a lot more questioning and less submissive to what Pastors say. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t preach repentance, but we also need to acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of sin and lead us into the truth.
I bumped into many missionaries in PNG! At the markets in Goroka a lady came running up to me saying she listens to Vision radio from Adelaide and heard me say I was going to PNG! What a surprise to bump into her & her family! They were on a missions trip with a group from their church. I also met an Aussie Pastor who was born in Tamworth where I was born, and he went to school in Lismore with my mum! I met some American pastors who have given one million Bibles to School students, they preach the gospel and personally hand them to every student in PNG. They will have done every school in PNG by the end of this year. I also met some of the team from Missionary Aviation Fellowship, who work with Laif FM in Weewak, the PNG Christian radio station run by UCB Pacific. We also met some missionaries from New Tribes Missions, who are translating the Bible into local languages. PNG has over 850 dialects, but they all speak Melanesian Pidgin as a common language and most of them speak English as well.
A few random facts I’ve learnt about PNG. Homosexuality is illegal. Abortion is illegal. There is a culture where men need to pay the brides parents to marry women. Life in the Spirit has publicly denounced this practice. Betel Nut is something many people chew in PNG. It’s addictive and many have died from Mouth Cancer because of this. Marijuana & alcohol are also big problems. I’ve learnt some Pidgin. Picaninny means child. And Papa God is Father God. A mumu (pig and vegetables roasted in a ground oven) is a traditional method of cooking large quantities of food for celebrations in PNG. They had a mumu in our honour in Goroka before we left! There are frequent blackouts in PNG. Our hotel had a blackout for the 3 days, we had cold showers, and no WIFI! You just gotta roll with the punches. God has a plan in the midst of all that is going on.
On the third day in Goroka, we went up to a mountain where some men had been growing marijuana. They had given their lives to Christ & they wanted to publicly denounce their sin! They asked us to help uproot their crops & they told us they will never deal drugs again! It was a genuine repentance. This is something that Pastor David had done publicly a number of times to make sure that people are a witness to all of their village that they are converted!
The Final night of the crusade in Goroka it was pouring with rain, but people came from everywhere! One group of villagers had walked 3 days, through the jungle to get there, their village has no roads leading in or out! Shaun & I sang, “My God is so Big,” & “Cast your burdens,” for the crowd & taught them the actions, they loved these lanky white Aussie guys singing on stage!!! LOL!
Then Pastor David Preached a powerful message & over 130 came to the altar, they knelt in the rain & wept before the Lord. I also led 2 staff to the Lord at the hotel today on the last day at Goroka! One lady who lost her 6 year old daughter to a mystery illness last year. She shared with me how sad she was. I told her that God the Father knows what it’s like to lose a child. And that Jesus died for her. Her eyes filled with tears, and we prayed in the restaurant & she gave her heart to the Lord!
On the Plane from Goroka to Port Moresby, I had a dream that I was preaching in PNG. I saw a big snake that was trying to kill PNG. I put my hands on it & tried to kill it but I want strong enough. Then God put his hands on my hands & killed the snake! I was so inspired to preach the Gospel after this dream. I’m believing that God is going to open doors for more crusades and a mighty harvest of souls, and that we will see revival in PNG! I also believe that God is building a bridge between Australia & PNG & we will see many more people travelling between our nations for the cause of the Gospel!
After we arrived in Port Moresby, it was raining so they cancelled the afternoon outreach. We were really needing a rest, so it was nice to refuel. At the Hotel, there were 4 Rugby teams from the Pacific, and all the contestants for Miss PNG! I met the coach for Niue, a small Pacific Island. He lives in in Boondall, Brisbane! He’s a Christian, and the cousin of Pastor David Vaka, a friend of mine! He shared the he told his team they weren’t allowed alcohol on this trip, and that he had a church service with his team and he preached the gospel to them!
We had 2 street outreaches the next day. The first one was at the markets, and there was about 2000 there, and 16 came to faith! And the afternoon, maybe 3000 were there & 115 got saved! At the outreaches there was the worship team, a choir, girls dancing with Tamborines, and a hip-hop dance team. Shaun & I would sing 2 kids songs, I would do a rap. Shaun would share his testimony, I’d preach for 20 minutes & then do an altar call. Pastor David has challenged me to preach without notes, and be lead by the Holy Spirit. It’s pushing me out of my comfort zone, but I always thought if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space!
At dinner that night, we saw some of the “Old Boys Broncos,” they had played a PNG old Boys team that day! I got a selfie with a few of the boys, what a coincidence! Some of the other highlights of the trip were seeing the Bird of Paradise at a Bird Sanctuary, and the amazing Orchids that only grow in PNG. And the food was amazing! The tastiest Pineapple, Paw-paw, and Sugar fruit (like Passionfruit but sweeter.)
Church on Sunday was amazing! Shaun shared a testimony, I preached for 30 minutes without notes! The anointing was so strong there! Pastor David preached for about 40 minutes & gave an altar call & 47 Came the Christ! The worship times are so joyful, so much dancing & they don’t seem to care about the time. They sing songs over & over and they preach as long as they feel lead to. They aren’t in a rush all the time. It was nice to see them more heavenly minded than earthly minded.
Then we had 2 nights of Crusades in Port Moresby. Pastor David preached on the first night, and challenged all the believers to repent, based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. The altar was filled with hundreds of people, on their knees, with deep repentance. It was a sight to behold! At the end of the night, he told everyone to go back to their seats, except the ones who made a first-time commitment. About 15 had come to Christ!
On our final night in PNG, Shaun shared a short testimony, and I preached a word about Joseph the dreamer. I’d felt the Lord put a word on my heart that many people had dreams, but that they thought they would never come to pass, so I shared the story of Joseph going from the pit to the palace to prison to being 2nd in charge in the land! I shared that ever since I was young I’d had a dream of preaching at crusades, and that I’d preaching in places like PNG, and that now that dream had been fulfilled. The crowd was so responsive that night, we had 24 come to the altar. There was over 550 that made a decision for Christ over the 10 days of our trip. I was so amazed at the hunger for God & the way people received us as we preached. I am so thankful to Pastor David for inviting us & teaching us & training us much while we were there. He faithfully drove us around for the whole time, and he took us to some beautiful locations & was so generous with his time. Shaun & I had many discussions with him on the trip. He has incredible wisdom & insight into God’s word. And he never says anything negative about other ministries, he is also very careful to seek the Lord about things before taking action. He is a man after God’s own heart. And we are so honoured & blessed to have seen the fruit of his ministry in PNG. Please keep praying for Revival in PNG, and in Australia. I believe this is the first chapter of a book with many chapters. Pastor David believes that after many years of conducting crusades in PNG, God is calling him to come & partner with others to see revival in Australia. He believes we will see many people come from around to world to fan the flames of Revival in Australia, I know that we need this! And I believe this is part of what God is setting up for the Great South land of the Holy Spirit!
It’s been great to be able to record a lot of testimonies & videos & take lots of pics from the trip, and be able to share them on social media & on Vision radio. You can see videos & interviews from the trip here:
Pastor Matt Prater