Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

How One Remote Medical Outreach Became a Local Church

On the Ground in PNG

The village of Amia, Papua New Guinea, fits the dictionary definition of “remote.” Getting there involves driving for an hour until the road becomes too rough to continue, and then hiking for four more hours across two mountains before finally reaching the village. But to the team of GFA missionaries based in the nearby village of Aibai, Amia was an ideal place to begin bringing the Gospel to more remote locations of Papua New Guinea, where many people rarely had the opportunity to hear it.




In September of 2018, the GFA team got a sense of Amia’s openness to gospel ministry by holding a two-day medical outreach there. After arrangements were made with the village elders, Rachel Langendorfer, the nurse practitioner who ran the clinic in Aibai, and Michael Berbin, the GFA team leader, traveled the rugged five-hour journey into the bush, along with porters who helped them carry their medical supplies. They arrived at Amia around noon, and after setting up the clinic they began the outreach. Mr. Berbin assigned numbers to about 20 patients at a time, and they and any family members with them would wait inside a house, where Mr. Berbin presented the Gospel until it was time for them to queue up and see Rachel. By the end of two days, Rachel had seen and treated 100 patients, all of whom heard the Gospel, with several villagers having already professed faith in Christ.


But the ministry in Amia was just beginning. Not long afterward, Devit Sino, a national pastor working with the Aibai missionaries, heard that people in Amia had started gathering in a house to pray on Sundays. Devit went and preached to the new church a few times, and after praying about it, the Aibai team felt directed to send a man up to preach every other weekend. Devit Sino, Michael Berbin, and another missionary from Aibai, Matt Crain, began preaching on rotation, traveling to Amia on a Saturday and returning after preaching Saturday evening and two services that Sunday.

God was clearly at work in Amia, and the team sought to minister to the village more often than every other weekend. In July 2019, Michael Berbin spoke with the head teacher of the local elementary school, asking whether someone from Aibai could come and teach literacy classes in the school building after school ended for the day. The head teacher agreed, and the team began making preparations for this next outreach.


Lonita Lohse was a new career missionary who had been teaching at the Christian school in Aibai, and her experience and circumstances situated her to teach the new literacy class. The ministry would be her first time living away from Aibai or teaching anyone to read, since she had taught only older school children. While preparing for the trip, Lonita told Michael Berbin she was concerned about experiencing frustration while trying to teach uneducated adults how to read. Mr. Berbin had taught literacy before and knew what she might face, but he encouraged her that, despite the challenges, there was no way to measure the value of helping someone learn to read the Bible. Lonita began to pray that by the end of her class, she would have the joy of seeing and hearing her students read God’s Word.


In August 2019, all was ready for the literacy class to begin. Lonita and Ana, a national  believer who would help her with the class, traveled to Amia with Matt Crain, the current preacher on rotation. That Sunday, Matt preached in the village’s temporary church structure, a tarp stretched over a frame of posts, which would eventually be replaced with the church building the Amia believers planned to construct. After Matt left, the two women would stay at the village for two weeks to teach and then return to Aibai with the next preacher who came to preach the Sunday services.


Lonita Lohse and Ana were warmly welcomed to Amia. At Mr. Berbin’s request, the men of the village built a bush house for the ladies, and Lonita’s new literacy students brought food since they knew the women did not have a garden. On Monday, Lonita and Ana began to teach their class of 16 adults. Three were professing believers who seemed to be growing in the Lord, and a fourth would later respond to a gospel invitation at church. Lonita began holding women’s Bible studies on Wednesday afternoons and witnessed to other women in the area. At the end of two weeks, Devit Sino arrived to preach, and Lonita and Ana returned with him to Aibai after church.


Over the following months, Lonita continued to alternate her time between Aibai and Amia. By late September, Lonita saw her students making progress with their reading skills. One day, when she unexpectedly stopped to see a couple from her literacy class at their home, she was excited to find the husband reading from his New Testament and his wife reading the printed Bible verses Lonita gave her students. God was already answering her prayers.

In mid-October, Lonita’s literacy class took their final exams and demonstrated their reading skills. Afterwards, the students cooked and brought food for a celebratory meal, and the next Sunday they held a special service to celebrate the graduates of the literacy class. Devit Sino preached the Gospel, and all the graduates received certificates.


As the literacy class ended, construction was just starting on the new Amia church building, with believers from a nearby town coming to help. Within a few weeks, the building was finished, complete with a steel roof. As the team from Aibai have continued their preaching rotation, they’ve seen new believers in Amia profess their faith in Christ and move towards baptism. The work in Amia is growing with additional outreach ministries for women and children led by Janice Berbin.  

In July 2020, a small group of national men conducted a mission trip, first ministering to the Amia church on a Sunday, and then visiting surrounding villages to evangelize further. Please pray that the Amia believers would continue to grow, and that God might call a national man to pastor the church full-time.