United in Buka Town

We didn’t know where we were going but we kept walking down the dusty hot road. Our small band of YWAM Liberty crew had been walking and trying to find the United Church of Buka Town in the scorching sun when I finally heard it, the distinctively husky sound of our ship’s worship leader Geua singing.

 “I hear Geua singing! The church must be up the road,” I said. 

Following her voice, we speed-walked up the dusty street to an open building. A large sign reading “United Church of Buka Town” and the flowing line of women wearing long white meri blouses let us know we were in the right place.

We were ushered inside and led to our seats; at the very front of a room full of packed benches. The service was in full swing with our worship team sharing the stage with the United Church’s keyboardist and drummer. A group of Discipleship Training School students, a five-month missions training program, were sitting with the United Church’s pastors at the side. Excitement and joy was in the air as this service was the result of three months of slowly building relationships with the people of Buka Town. 

Our ship, the m/v YWAM Liberty, had been commissioned to provide medical services throughout the region of Bougainville for six months. During those six months, our ship would be coming into Buka Town port to refuel and buy groceries every two weeks. 

Our leaders had recognized the unique influence that Buka Town had in Bougainville and felt a push to connect and serve the people of this city more intentionally. Through youth nights at the church and individual friendships, this combined service was another step in our YWAM community becoming “united” to the people of Buka Town.

The service included worship, dances, gospel skits, and testimonies from both our DTS students and the church’s youth groups. At the close of the service, the pastor invited us to a potluck right outside the church. As we ate together, there was a beautiful mix of students, elders in the church, medical volunteers, and church members all sharing about their lives. 

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