“Instead of allowing our beliefs to influence scripture, we need to allow scripture to influence our beliefs,” emphasises George Mombi, from Christian Leaders’ Training College, PNG, currently working on his Ph.D at Otago University, Dunedin.
Prior to studying George had an apostolic role with Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC) in PNG. He spent some of his time travelling in PNG, visiting Bible schools and colleges, helping them make progress and develop better curriculum. He also organised training workshops for Bible Schools Principals and Deans at CLTC.
What concerns him deeply in what he saw was how readily and easily Christians and the church within his home region are influenced by sectarianism, a prosperity-based gospel, and a dualistic devotion to sorcery, magic and spirit powers.
“When it comes to the idea of having a ‘good life’ – or gutpela sindaun – as we call it, the Melanesian people have allowed a Melanesian view to influence their Christian beliefs,” says Mombi. “The letter to the Colossians addresses this and explains what ‘fullness’ in life is actually about. It’s not only about material prosperity, but about relationship with God. My research looks at this section of Colossians, and contextualises it into the challenges the Melanesian church faces.”
Multiple deceptive influences in the region’s church mean there is a lot of division in the church, also of great concern to George. He is encouraged by the potential for the reconciliative role that CLTC and his future ministry will have:
“In the Melanesian region, CLTC is strategically placed because it is interdenominational, and my PhD is also strategic: Through CLTC I am passing on the knowledge I have gained to men and women who will go back to their churches equipped with contextually relevant yet accurate biblical insights and skills, to teach and disciple followers of Christ.”
He hopes that in elevating the influence of accurate interpretation of scripture to many different, smaller Bible schools – which feed student leaders to study at CLTC – this will significantly strengthen the church and reduce the amount of sectarianism and invidious beliefs amongst the region’s Christians.
“We’re moving away from a mind-set that is strongly denominationalised, to one that is rooted in scripture.”
Once his Ph.D is complete, George will return to PNG and CLTC, to continue teaching there, and also continue working with the region’s smaller bible colleges. Formal relationships are already secured with colleges in the Solomon Islands. His study is currently supported through Leadership Development’s Faculty Training and he is also a Langham Scholar.
George is looking for partnership with New Zealand Christians, one that will help strengthen the church and spread the Gospel in PNG.
“Kiwi Christians started funding CLTC in 1964. Your support and involvement helped to get it where it is now, and CLTC has trained more than 2000 leaders from the region. Please continue with this good work; helping the spread of the Gospel across the Pacific, and changing lives of people under spirit powers, sorcery, and magic, and helping people change and live a truly better life by trusting God and having a relationship with him.
“I am excited about what God is doing and going to do in the region: investing in my training is strategic and important for helping to change beliefs across the region, and see many more come to know the true God.”