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13 June 2017

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Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Rimbink Pato should be ashamed of himself if he gave the approval for Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary, to be deported.

Missionaries appear to be his targets for deportation.

The minister should know that Catholic and Lutheran missionaries were the first to bring essential services like health and education to his own Enga province in the late 1940s.

Hon Rimbink himself attended St Paul’s Lutheran High, the first to be established near his village in Wapenamanda by Lutheran church missionaries.

The very first two Lutheran Missionaries to set foot in Enga were Reverend Dr Otto Carl Hintze Jr and Rev Willard Burce who settled at Yaramanda near his village.

Dr Hintze Jr who died recently at age 93 had to beg Hon Rimbink Pato from his wheelchair to reverse a decision he made to deport missionaries working in Enga Province.

The following is an excerpt from my book ‘I Can See My Country Clearly Now’, which mentions Dr Otto’s appeal not to deport the missionaries working in Enga province.

For those interested to read more about this saga, the book is available free online. It is also sold at the University of Papua New Guinea Bookshop in Port Moresby.

So they came to Enga and established the first church at Yaramanda near Wapenamanda on November 2, 1948. From there they established congregations in the Tsak Valley, Sirunki in Laiagam and in other parts of the province including the establishment of their headquarters at Irelya - a few kilometres from the Wabag government patrol post.

They successfully preached the Word of God to the people after learning their language and began to understand the people.

“Today’s missionaries need to be trained also in learning and working with the mother tongue of those to whom they are sent. They need a course in cultural anthropology,” said Dr Otto.

“They are to approach (the native people as a whole person, male and female, family by family, in loving Christian relationships to the community as a whole, especially to tribal people.”

Dr Otto and fellow Lutheran missionaries worked hard to improve all facets of life for the Enga. A book he published ‘From Ghosts to God’ tells how the people’s education system, agriculture and economy all improved as they embraced the Gospel.

They built schools, hospitals and health centres, set up co-operative businesses, introduced animal husbandry and livestock, and built a hydro system to provide power to Mambisanda Hospital and the first high school in Enga Province at Pausa.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato, former acting Prime Minister, Sam Abal, Grand Chief Sir Peter Ipatas, KBE, former Lagaip-Porgera member, Philip Kikala, Provincial Administrator, Dr Samson Amean, Provincial Planner and former Administrator, the late Kundapen Talyaga were some of the people educated there.

In his book, Dr Otto recalled the challenges, missteps and even dangers he and his wife, Janelle, overcame in faith amid the austere, foreign conditions of the region and how those conditions improved significantly over time.

“God chooses very ordinary people who have strong faith in Jesus to be missionaries,” said Dr Otto. “God blesses whatever is done in love - even mistakes - to enable people to listen and have faith, created by the Holy Spirit, in their hearts. Even in dangerous circumstances, God’s angels protect and provide what is needed.”

After 17 years in PNG, Dr Otto taught at Concordia Theological Seminary (then located in Springfield, Ill.); served on the staff of the LCMS Board for Mission Services; was pastor of Inreach and Outreach at Ascension Lutheran Church, St. Louis; and was chaplain at the LCMS International Centre in St. Louis.

Just before he passed on, confined to a wheelchair in his home in Missouri he summoned all his strength and wrote to Rimbink Pato, to reconsider his stand to ban American Lutheran missionaries from going to Enga Province to help people.

He wrote the letter on 3rd July, 2015 when he learnt that Mrs Julie Lutz and her son Anton Lutz were to be deported. And wife of Highlands Lutheran International School Chaplin, Dr Todd Luedtke, Jane was told to go back to Washington DC to get her visa because she had been in the province on a tourist visa.

But when she tried to get her visa in Washington, she could not get it because there was a problem at the Immigration Office in PNG. Chief Migration Officer, Mataio Rabura confirmed later that they had been banned from coming into the country.

The ban appeared to be in relation to a long standing power struggle within the Gutnius Lutheran Church between the followers of David Piso and Nick Ayane for the post of Head Bishop.

Concerning the deportation ordered against Mrs Julie Lutz and her son Anton, Rev Hintze said deportation was usually reserved for those who have broken the law.
“Julie and Anton broke no federal laws, but instead they tried to follow the laws of PNG and did many good things for the people of PNG,” he wrote.

Julie’s husband and Anton’s father, Dr Steve Lutze was a veteran medical doctor at the Lutheran Church -run Mambisanda Hospital for many years and died working there. Julie and Anton wanted to continue to serve the people in Enga Province.

“Also, for what reason has Mrs. Luedtke been denied a visa to return to PNG in order to help the country through teaching children good things?”

I wonder what logging companies have done for Papua New Guinea?

Sad that Doug was deported for taking up the rights of the poor village people in Pomio against Asians company RH.Our logs made RH rich but made land owners poor in their own land.Everyone of us has a duty to fight on like Doug.

I knew Douglas Tennent many years ago when he was based in Hagen. A very genuine character, even back then he was very much involved with human rights issues. Sorry to hear about what has happened, but knowing Doug I believe he will be more concerned about the people he had been helping rather than being concerned about himself.

I believe the Archbishop of Rabaul and the Catholic Bishops' Conference are right in saying New Zealander Mr Douglas Tennent would have been deported or told to leave because he was assisting landowners in Pomio against Rimbunan Hijau.

This is how Rimbunan Hijau operates in PNG. It would get government officials to do what it wants.

I have been a former Greenpeace Forest Campaigner in PNG and know how RH operates.

This Asian logging company is not only the biggest destroyer of PNG's forests, it has destroyed the social fabric of PNG society by infiltrating into PNG's political and economic systems through the Asian culture of corrupt business practices which includes influencing permits, setting landowners against each other and getting government officials, including police to do jobs for them.

I am glad that at last the Catholic Church is standing up against two biggest problems in this country, which is abuse of landowners by logging companies and environmental destruction.

All Christian churches have a responsibility to protect "God's creation - Eden on earth" and stand by the custodians of these creation -the landowners, many who live in remote places where there are not government services and no roads.

The logging industry here has infiltrated into PNG society in such a way that it basically owns this country. It has poisoned the minds of our politicians, corrupted our public service, set landowners against each other and basically wills and deals its way now into diversification of businesses including Real Estate, Hotels, Finance, Media, airline and more.

This country is owned by Asian loggers, especially Rimbunan Hijau.

Mr Tennent joins the growing list of honourable men (and women?) deported from Papua New Guinea by corrupt and frightened politicians and business organisations.

There should be enough of them to form a club by now.

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