Madang, located on the northeastern coast of Papua New Guinea, is a town of juxtapositions.
On the one hand, its crystal clear water, abundant coral reefs, and shores laden with palm trees make this town a striking piece of God’s creation. Driving along coastal roads lined on each side with foliage and fauna offer vistas of remarkable beauty in nearly every direction.
Its 30,000 people are friendly toward outsiders–sometimes surprisingly so. They are quick to smile, and meet you, and shake your hand. More often than not, they are eager to engage in conversation about any topic. The conversations are always interesting since many of the people who live in Madang are not from there. Rather, they come from villages near and far for the opportunities in town and often end up returning to home after a few years. In addition to its people, the amount of amenities found in the stores in town is also somewhat surprising.
87 Degrees Fahrenheit with 84% Humidity
On the other hand, Madang is at sea-level in a tropical rainforest climate.
Translation: it is very hot, and very humid. All. Year. Long. Averaging 87 degrees Fahrenheit and 84% humidity, even its frequent rainstorms do little to cool off its residents. Madang is also part of a third-world country and, as such, its infrastructure is not as consistent as other places. Large trash heaps can be found randomly around town, splats of buai (the local chewing stimulant) is often underfoot. Any trash that cannot be composted by its population is burned in outdoor firepits, resulting in a never-ending wafting of smoke around town.
Oh, and then there are the earthquakes. At the time of this writing, Madang just weathered six earthquakes (two of which were over 6.0) in a twenty-four-hour period.
Certainly, Madang is not for the faint of heart.
Surprising and Strategic
But it is here, in this surprisingly friendly, remarkably beautiful town that FinisTerre has based its field office. Access to airstrips and supplies makes this a strategic location to support our missionaries in the villages with the supplies they need.
But it is a strategic location for another reason, and this one is just as important.
Because Madang needs the gospel. While exposure to Christianity is prevalent, strong, gospel-preaching churches are not. Not unlike the US, people in Madang either feel like they cannot attend church because of their lifestyle or they do attend church…at the large prosperity-gospel church in town. While everyone speaks the same language here (Tok Pisin), there are few doctrinally-sound, theologically-accurate resources available and even less people to teach them.
Our missionaries based here have no less a task of reaching the ends of the earth as our missionaries in the remote villages. And unlike the villages, the ministry opportunities here are not only accessible; they are welcomed! There are open doors for a strong church or a pastoral training center to strengthen existing churches for which we are incredibly excited.
While we continue to uphold our missionaries in the villages for the sake of the gospel, we are also busy making plans for Madang for the sake of that same gospel. And as we do so, we pray. That the people of this place would know the One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, and that He might be pleased to use FinisTerre’s field office in Madang to do just that.