News Story

Strengthening Faith and Testimonies: Saints in Papua New Guinea Respond to Twin Natural Disasters

Two major natural disasters within two months have challenged the island nation of Papua New Guinea, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is providing volunteers, equipment, economic support and basic needs to help victims recover.

Volunteers distribute aid after floods and landslides in the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea. March 2024.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

But local Church members and their leaders are learning that covenants and consecrated effort are the most important keys to recovering a stable and spiritually strong life.

In late March 2024, heavy flooding, combined with a 6.9 earthquake, killed five people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes along the Sepik River in northern Papua New Guinea.

To meet temporal needs, resources from the Church of Jesus Christ were quickly mobilized to provide food, medical supplies, temporary shelter and heavy equipment to alleviate suffering and repair the widespread damage.

But local Church leaders also ministered to the spiritual needs of Latter-day Saints, some of whom lost homes and even loved ones in the disasters.

Goroka District President Brian Woro said that despite the flooding, “they [Church members] still come to Church. I counsel them that if we can help them, we will. But if not, continue to pray and things will work out. They suffer, and yet they still want to help others.”

Seventy villages along the swollen river were affected. The Church provided 550 20-litre fresh-water containers, along with canvases and food supplies, to relieve suffering.

Pacific Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Peter F. Meurs, said that the Church stands ready to work with governments and other agencies to provide relief, through monetary and other donations. "Our incredible people on the ground were mobilized to facilitate helping hands."

During the recovery, Lae Mission Clerk Zinoh Pako visited the Simbu province, where 22 homes and a meetinghouse (where Church members met for worship services) were destroyed.

Under the direction of their leaders, members met in individual homes to participate in the ordinance of the sacrament. Brother Pako said that “the sacrament is even more important during times of disaster. It’s when we best remember our covenants.”

Then, on 26 May, a massive landslide triggered by another 6.9 earthquake and heavy rain buried an estimated 2,000 residents in the remote Enga region of North Central Papua New Guinea. The Church made a sizeable cash donation to the relief effort to help speed the challenging recovery process.

In a 4 June radio interview from Papua New Guinea's capital city, Port Moresby, Elder Jeremy R. Jaggi, a member of the Church's Pacific Area Presidency, said, "We watch with concern, with much prayer, and we hope we're contributing. We are very active in humanitarian efforts and relief of suffering... As followers of Jesus Christ, that's part of our ministry, and we're trying to do that in Papua New Guinea."

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