Papua New Guinea is north of Australia close to the equator. Bougainville, one of the poorest countries of the world, is its most easterly island. After nearly eight years of war with Papua New Guinea, Bougainville now has its own autonomous government. The first brother and sister in Bougainville, Bro. Boniface & Sis. Mary Dituama, were baptized in 1987 just before the war broke out. They fled into the mountains and hid in the jungle. There was no contact with them for eight years.
Only after twelve years was regular contact possible, though it can take up to two months to get news through because there is no official mail service on Bougainville. During those years Bro. Boniface tirelessly taught the Truth and today there are two ecclesias in Bougainville and one on Buka Island, thirty brethren and sisters in all. Only three brethren have any sort of employment; the rest live on what they can grow in a small garden. The main cause of death is malaria. To combat this deadly disease ACBM provides medication because the brethren cannot afford to buy it. Bro. Don & Sis. Beulah Edwards (Christchurch, New Zealand) are at Arawa in Bougainville nearing the end of two years’ Voluntary Service Abroad, a New Zealand government initiative. They are currently instructing five young people though no local brethren actually live in Arawa, and others in the mountains are also nearing baptism. It is not possible for visitors to travel to Momoko and Sipokotu Ecclesias in the mountains because a rebel army is still in control there.
The brethren and sisters come with their children to two Bible Schools a year in Arawa. They have to walk for five hours over the mountains, carrying small children, bedding, Bibles and food, to reach a road and then wait for a truck to get a ride to the school. seminars are held by the local brethren on a fortnightly basis in their localities. Our young Bro. Calvin Luiramo from the Solomon Islands is at university in Lae in Niugini. Port Moresby, the capital, and Lae are highly dangerous areas with a crime rate completely out of control. Despite the difficulties there are over fifty active contacts on correspondence courses in Niugini, Bougainville and New Britain. All brethren and sisters are very isolated but faithfully maintain the Truth. They need, and deserve, our prayers.
– Paul Cresswell, The Christadelphian (May 2007)