For 12 years the Port Moresby City Mission has been quite successful in helping many youth who have benefited from the training and support of the City Mission programs. With the success in Port Moresby it was decided that the Mission should expand its operation into Lae.
The “Malolo” Screen Printing Shop was later established in the vacant shop area downstairs and now produces high quality hand printed T-shirts, garments and other items for the community. Malolo Prints has now been relocated to New Life Skills Training Centre outside of Port Moresby. This continues to provided training and employment for young men off the streets.
It was at this time during a church worship service in Sydney Australia, that the Lord spoke to me and planted a vision for a Port Moresby City Mission. I was actually praying for the youth at the Kings Cross Drop In Centre when it seemed an audible voice spoke to me and said, "PNG needs something like this, I want you to start a Port Moresby City Mission." I looked around but nobody was talking to me so I just prayed, "Lord if you want this to happen the first thing you had better do is transfer me back to PNG in the Bank." I had no idea how this would all come about and my question was, "Why me Lord?" I did not feel I had a lot of confidence and was certainly not a good public speaker, but I was reminded that Moses was in the same state before he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into the promised land.
My prayer was answered within three months when the bank rang me one day and offered me the position of Manager at the Mt. Hagen branch of the Bank of South Pacific. My response to the Lord was, "Well it’s not Port Moresby, but at least you have me back in PNG." During my two and one half years in Mt Hagen I forgot about what the Lord had told me and concentrated on my job in the bank. In 1987 the Chief Manager of BSP rang me and offered the job of Manager, Port Moresby branch if I agreed to sign on for a further two year contract. As this was a promotion I accepted the appointment and transferred to Port Moresby.
While working in Port Moresby I attended the Christian Life Centre Church at Waigani and one day we had a visiting Pastor from Australia as the guest speaker. During a prayer time at the front of the church he suddenly moved down through the crowd and came straight to me and started to prophecy that the Lord was going to raise me up to do a mighty work with the youth in this country. He then asked the Pastor to join him and they both prayed for me.
As I walked back to my seat that day I remembered what the Lord had spoken to me in Sydney three years earlier and realized that he must be serious about wanting me to start a Port Moresby City Mission. Two days later I walked into the small bookshop at the church and the young man working there handed me a small local magazine in which I read an article about the Jesus Centre Half Way House at Morata. It stated they were looking for someone to manage this centre.
The next day I went looking for Pastor Charles Lapa who had started this centre and asked if I could help out on a voluntary basis. As I drove up to the Centre I had this thought, "well maybe this is my Port Moresby City Mission and its already established." Pastor Charles was very happy to meet me and told me I was an answer to his prayers so I began to help out on weeknights after work and on weekends.
When my term in the bank was coming to completion, I requested a further extension as I was enjoying the job of helping to run this Half Way House. My request was refused stating I had now been out of the system in Australia too long and needed to return and get on with my career. I therefore decided to take six months long service leave and manage the Half Way House full time. As this period drew to a close I knew that I either had to resign or return to work in Australia. It was a big decision and all my friends including my family told me I was crazy. I had no idea how I would support myself as the job was unpaid and I was plagued by fears until I finally walked into the bank and handed in my resignation. As I walked out of the bank that day I felt a complete peace and knew that God would look after me. During my time at the Half Way House I had become engaged to my late wife, Ruth Vaugha, and we married six months later. She was extremely supportive of the work that I was doing.
In 1993 after more then five years with the Half Way House we realized that many of the youth coming to the Centre were being turned away because they were not ex prisoner or had not been involved in a life of crime. It was at this time that Ruth and I both thought it was time to start a Port Moresby City Mission with the aim of it being more preventative and to help young people avoid turning to a life of crime to survive. I decided to resign from the Half Way House and a meeting of Church Leaders and business houses was called in April 1993. As a result of that meeting a board was established and it was agreed to start the Port Moresby City Mission.
The Mission started its operations in an old rented trade store on the site of the existing Koki headquarters. With the help of a few young men that followed me from the Half Way House we managed to paint and renovate the old shop and the Port Moresby City Mission was opened for business on 30th November 1993. Within six months we were accommodating and feeding more then 100 young men at the Koki store and at night the floor of the shop was a mass of bodies.
I had no idea how big and how fast the Mission would grow. I think I would have run a mile had I been able to look into the future and see the many areas of work that the Mission encompasses today. A lot of my strength came through the encouragement of my late wife Ruth who passed away with cancer on 28th November 1995. Ruth George had spent more then 30 years serving the people of PNG as a school teacher, before we started the City Mission.
In Port Moresby the Mission expanded to the farm at Mirageda, Bootless Bay and funds were raised to purchase the Koki site. Eventually with the support of a major donor the old trade store was torn down at Koki to make way for our existing headquarters. This was officially opened on 21st January 2002.The next stage of the expansion came with the opening of “Haus Ruth” on 28th April 2003. This centre was named after my late wife Ruth George and is a women’s refuge centre catering for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, rape and incest.
In 2004 with the growing law and order problems in Lae our Board decided to expand our operations to Lae, the country's second largest city. A plantation at 11 Mile, Lae was eventually located and purchased with the support of our major donor and we settled for the property in December 2005. The Mission then opened its doors to the youth of Lae on 3rd January 2006. At this time I was engaged to Bonnie Evans from Atherton, North Queensland and, following our marriage, in April 2006, Bonnie joined me and has been a wonderful partner and blessing to the work of the Mission in Lae. Bonnie had been a trained nurse and took on the role of running the Mission Clinic. She also supervises the literacy training and does all the mending of the boys clothing, a task or responsibility which seems to be a never ending.
When the Mission moved to Lae it was decided to change its name from Port Moresby City Mission to City Mission PNG, as it is also hoped in the future to expand further around the country to other problem cities, once funding and staff become available.
In 2007 the Mission purchased the Buablung Haus Hostel and established our Lae headquarters on this site. It also accommodates up to 70 young men that have come through the Mission program and are now working in town. Another area of concern that the Mission became aware of was the increasing number of children who have lost their parents through the AIDS epidemic and had nobody to care for them. Relatives living in the squatter areas around Lae were already struggling to support their own family without having to take on the responsibility of caring for their dead relatives children. It was therefore decided to establish “Haus Clare” Children’s Crisis Centre. This building was named after the wife of our major donor who generously purchased this centre for the Mission as well. The Mission then entered a partnership agreement with Anglicare Stop Aids and they provided us with three Anglican Sisters to live at the Centre and care for the children.
The final stage of the Lae expansion came with the opening of our Meri Seif Haus, in the 2 Mile settlement of Lae. The Mission was able to obtain a block of land from the housing commission and the Digicel Foundation paid for the construction of the Meri Seif Haus. This centre enables victims of domestic violence and their children to find temporary shelter for one or two nights when the father comes home drunk and becomes violent and destructive.
Digicel also established a container community learning centre and we have since erected two more classrooms of bush material. 105 children were enrolled in this free school this year and in addition classes in cooking and sewing as well as adult literacy are conducted for women in the settlement free of charge.
The City Mission is now well established and respected in both Port Moresby and Lae. Many lives have turned around as we offer them a second chance in life by bringing them through the Mission program. The Government has neglected our youth for far too long. As previously stated the Mission would like to expand its operations to other centres in PNG, but we are restricted by lack of funds to purchase properties and for operating expenses to pay for wages and operating costs.
The Mission receives no support at all from the PNG Government. Every young man that the Mission assists is one less potential criminal roaming the streets of the city. Its costs a great deal of money to keep one young man in prison and I believe the Government would be better off directing some of these funds to the Mission to enable it to expand around the country and thus reduce the number of criminals roaming the street and eventually filling our prisons.
We survive solely on donations from business houses, church and individuals as well as Mission organized, fund raising events. For the last four years Port Moresby has received sponsorship support from Lihir Gold Mine, which was taken over last year by Newcrest Mining Ltd. We are hoping that this support will continue and be extended to Lae as well. Should any other company like to offer their support and sponsorship we would be delighted to hear from them. To those of you that already support us in cash and in kind thank you for caring for the youth of PNG.
God Bless You,