Papua New Guinea missionary exhibit opens at CHI

By Erik M. Lunsford

Jisas i dai pinis long diwai kros, olsem na Kristen i no lus.

The Rev. Otto J. Hintze, commissioned as the first LCMS missionary to New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea), browses artifacts with family, including his granddaughter, Ellie Hintze (left), during the Oct. 5 public opening of Concordia Historical Institute's "Bringing Christ to the Highlands" exhibit. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

The Rev. Dr. Otto J. Hintze, one of the first LCMS missionaries to New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea), browses artifacts with family, including his granddaughter, Ellie Hintze (left), during the Oct. 5 public opening of Concordia Historical Institute’s “Bringing Christ to the Highlands” exhibit. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

That sentence, in Melanesian Pidgin, means, “Jesus has died upon the wooden cross, therefore, Christians will not be lost.”

If you missed the printed program for the Oct. 5 Mission Festival Service at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, you might be lost. Worshipers sang and prayed in Enga and Pidgin, two of the four languages used by LCMS missionaries in Papua New Guinea.

It’s a difficult read.

Bikpela, Yu marimari long mipela. Lord, have mercy on us.

Colorful ceremonial bags from Papua New Guinea hung from the pews during the service, which preceded that day’s public opening of Concordia Historical Institute’s museum exhibit “Bringing Christ to the Highlands: Painting a Portrait of Early Lutheran Mission Work in Papua New Guinea.”

The Rev. Dr. Robert Holst preached and shared stories from his missionary work. Holst, who retired in 2011 after serving 20 years as president of Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn., was an LCMS evangelistic missionary from 1963 to 1968 in what was then New Guinea.

Tom and Ruth Donner browse artwork at the Papua New Guinea display at Concordia Historical Institute (CHI). The free exhibit runs through 2015 at CHI, located on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

Tom and Ruth Donner browse artwork at the Papua New Guinea display at Concordia Historical Institute (CHI). The free exhibit runs through 2015 at CHI, located on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

After the Mission Festival Service, across the street at Concordia Historical Institute (CHI), former and current missionaries hugged and greeted one another. They swapped stories after a ribbon cutting by the Rev. Dr. Otto J. Hintze, who was commissioned as the one of the first LCMS missionaries to New Guinea, now Papua New Guinea. Near the entrance, retired missionary Eunice Hausler chatted with David and Mona Houser, recounting the harrowing experience of their aircraft’s engine failing during flight.

A soft-spoken Hintze toured the exhibit with his family, commenting on the numerous artifacts and artwork.

“It’s the proof of the Holy Spirit that He is alive … that He can convert and shelter and help those people to stay faithful to Jesus,” said Hintze, author of the autobiographical From Ghosts to God in Enga Land. The book, currently in production, is expected to be available next year. Hintze — who served in Papua New Guinea for 17 years — said nearly 54,000 tribal people have converted to Christianity since LCMS missionary work began in 1948.

More than 100 people toured the free exhibit, which runs through 2015. It includes more than 30 oil paintings by retired missionary Robert Kroenke. He and his late wife, Lois, served in New Guinea from 1965 to 1970. Their book, Letters from New Guinea, also is on display.

CHI Executive Director Rev. Dr. Daniel Harmelink watched as guests browsed the museum. “This exhibit portrays a living history of Christ’s redeeming work in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

Exhibit hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groups of 18 or more are appointment-only, and the exhibit is closed on holidays. For more information, contact CHI at (314) 505-7900.

To see more photos from the Oct. 5 exhibit opening, click here.

Erik M. Lunsford is the staff photojournalist and a writer for LCMS Communications.

Posted Oct. 8, 2014 / Updated Oct. 9, 2014

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