Equipping churches to help landslide victimes in PNG

In the midnight hours of the 24th of May 2024, Janaya* and her husband woke to the sound of thunder. Fearing an earthquake, her husband hurried back to fetch their three young children who were staying with relatives nearby. Tragically that would be the last time the young mother saw her loved ones.

Distraught and covered in blood, she shared her distress, “I’ve lost everything, there’s no hope for me. Now what? Why am I alive? I want to kill myself, why should I be here? What am I going to? I lost my family, everyone.”

Hundreds of people living in villages in the foothills of Mount Mungalo, Papua New Guinea (PNG) were taken by surprise when the landslide struck around 2am. An estimated 160 people have been killed, leaving hundreds more displaced. The recovery effort has been hindered by the threat of ongoing seismic movement. Furthermore, the province of Enga has been embroiled in tribal conflict, leaving a trail of destruction and displacement.

Evidence of landslides are tragically common throughout the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Alice, a journalist and producer for radio broadcaster Jesus FM, has been on the ground in Mulitaka village, has been impacted not only by the landslide but also months of tribal conflict. She shared that the local officials have been overwhelmed by the influx of international support but said that there is a growing need for treatment of spiritual and psychological trauma.

“The government, businesses, the international community, they are coming in to help with food, medical supplies, operations, all this. But one thing that I don’t know if they’re looking at, is the [people’s] spiritual needs and their emotional needs, addressing the trauma they have experienced.”

Samaritan’s Purse Australia/New Zealand team in PNG.


Following the disaster, Samaritan’s Purse staff from Australia travelled to the affected region to meet with local church leaders in Enga and Mt Hagen to identify how together, they could best serve the impacted communities.

PNG is home to 450 registered churches, so when conflict and natural disasters strike, their congregations have been instrumental in providing practical and spiritual care in their communities. Together with church leaders, our team met with Kenneth, Enga’s Provincial Disaster Relief Coordinator, who was encouraged to learn of churches uniting to support the community.


“Partnering with the churches, they are the place where people go for comfort and true care. So, if we can walk with the churches, I see the need for it. They are the neutral ground, to which even conflicting tribes can go to. They can reach out to all parties”

“I believe that [they] will really leave some mark on the lives of affected people especially women, children and the youth population. So, walking with the churches is the way forward. And I believe the churches can do even better than we as Government and other agencies can do. With the churches, I think that’s a ‘need’ area that you can fit in. And I believe this is an excellent approach.”
Kenneth, Disaster Relief Coordinator, Enga Provincial Headquarters

A coordinated response has been put together to equip local churches to serve the displaced people of Enga. Samaritan’s Purse Australia/New Zealand will supply 200 kitchen kits containing essentials including; a bucket to fetch and store water, kettle, cooking pot, cups, bowls and utensils for a family of five. Operation Christmas Child, who host a national team in Papua New Guinea, also joined to respond, delivering 1,500 shoebox gifts for churches to host outreach events for children throughout Enga.

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team crisis-trained chaplains will accompany Samaritan’s Purse to provide training for church leaders. The Sharing Hope in Crisis training is designed to empower church congregations to serve their communities to process and heal from the psychological trauma experienced through disaster and conflict. 1,000 local language bibles have also been generously supplied by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

Each component intends to resource churches in Enga to deliver a meaningful response to provide physical and spiritual care for families and children who’s lives have been impacted by on-set disaster.

“I think that is a gap area that always exists in our society. The psychological side of healing that people need. We don’t take note of it. We look at the physical things what they will eat, drink and wear, but there is so much more than that, the psychological and spiritual part of it”, shared Kenneth.

Mark Bennett, Executive Director for Samaritan’s Purse Australia/New Zealand shared the need to support churches responding to fighting and natural disaster.

“We in Australia saw the news about what happened, and we were shocked. We knew there would be churches and as a Christian organisation, we wanted to know how we could be helpful.”

“We see our role to partner with the local church, so that they have an opportunity to minister to the people who have been affected. We want to equip, enable and partner with churches to have a ministry to these communities, this is our objective”, shared Mark.

We thank you for your ongoing prayer and support as we continue to coordinate resources and crisis training to equip churches to respond to people who have been displaced and living in difficult circumstances. Pray as our teams work to meet not only their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs in Jesus’ Name.


*Name changed for security.

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Your support to Papua New Guinea provides the opportunity to support those who have been affected by the landslide.