ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA HON. JAMES MARAPE MP ON THE OCCASION OF THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER & REPENTANCE, 26 AUGUST 2021

My dear People of Papua New Guinea.

I greet you all today in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom, we have received from God our Almighty Father, the great gift of Forgiveness and the wonderful promise of Salvation.

Today is a special day of much significance. It is a day marked to allow us to disconnect from our busy lives and return our attention to the Source, our God, the Giver and Keeper of our lives.

On a spiritual level, the National Day of Prayer & Repentance has as much importance as our Independence Anniversary because it is meant to connect us back to our Creator.

We are a Christian nation, in faith and now almost by virtue of the Constitution that governs our most basic rights and principles. Even though our daily practice of Christianity varies from person to person, we hold strongly onto the fundamental belief that every single one of us come from God, the One Great Source.

We also know, according to that same belief, when we are not right with Him. This is when our own relationship with each other has gone wrong. Our relationship with each other is a reflection of our relationship with our Creator.

Great and successful human societies all over the world are built on a platform of unity and harmony; born out of tolerance, respect and a strong sense of care for each other’s rights.

For Papua New Guinea, one of our greatest challenges has been our need to stay united because we are so diverse. We have struggled to tolerate each other because of our ethnic and cultural differences; we have forgotten to respect each other’s rights and needs. We have become too tribalistic, too parochial, too regionalistic, and maybe even too capitalistic in certain quarters. We continue to experience the lack of unity which manifests itself in so many ways through social disorder and the struggles we continue to face today.

It is for these times that occasions such as these are created. The National Day of Prayer & Repentance is given to return our attention to our Creator in much the same way as an empty battery shell reconnects to power source. It is an opportunity to put our lives right with God; to ask Him for forgiveness and seek His guidance; to recharge our spiritual batteries, so we can get our everyday lives in order, including our relationship with each other as countrymen and women.

At the heart of our human existence is the longing to have a loving trusting relationship with our Creator. And at the heart of our existence as Papua New Guineans is also the longing to have a loving and trusting relationship with each other. We get the first one right and the second naturally falls into place.

The rejuvenation of our nation depends so much on how spiritually aware each of us is. The need for better relationships with each other; for unity, tolerance and respect - these continue to remain among our biggest challenges.

But having said this, I must also acknowledge the momentous advances we have made since the introduction of Christianity to our shores. Early missionaries from the London Missionary Society, Seventh Day Adventist church, the Lutheran and Catholic churches, have profoundly impacted development and partnered with colonial administrations to take our country into the era of Westernisation. Many of them have laid down their lives so that The Gospel could spread.

Today colonists have gone. World conflicts have come and gone (and may come again). Governments have changed many times. Our people continue to rise and fall with changing times. But one thing has always remained constant. That thing has become the Great Tie that has bound us together – this young nation of so many different cultures and ethnicities. CHRISTIANITY.

Amidst all our social differences, against the fast pace of industrialisation and globalisation, the UNITY Christianity has given to Papua New Guinea, the role it has played in our nation’s development, and the gift of Faith it has armed us with as human beings, remain as some of our greatest national treasures to date.

We will soon commemorate this gift of Christianity so we can look upon it and be reminded of how blessed we are as a People and a Nation.

Cabinet has already given the clearance for the construction of National Unity Park in Port Moresby, upon which will be built the National Unity Pillar.

This monument will rise to some 200 metres into the sky, will cost no less than K5 million, and will be unveiled in 2025 in time for the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. It will have a perpetual-burning flame at its apex, and will stand directly within the vantage point of the National Parliament House - directly across from it to signify the link between God and country.

It is our aim to make the National Unity Park iconic, where large gatherings of people assemble, where tourists visit, where the world can associate us to our history entwined with God and His Gospel.

When PNG celebrates its 50th anniversary of political independence, we will also recognise the great contribution of Christianity and its amazing gift of Unity in the unveiling of the National Unity Pillar.

Now that we are acknowledging the added role and value of Christianity – this Great Faith of ours – in nation-building, we must continue to push that narrative. That narrative is that in our diversity, Christianity has become our unity; in our differences, Christ’s Love is the Tie that has bound us and continues to bind us together as One.

It is timely that I also announce this here. The report by the PNG Constitutional Law Reform Commission has been submitted to me only a couple of weeks ago. The Commission was tasked to travel throughout the country and consult Papua New Guineans on the idea to have our Constitution ‘declare PNG as a Christian country’. The report says there is OVERWHELMING support for this to happen.

Papua New Guineans want nothing more than to see our Constitution make this declaration because it is true that we all recognise the value Christianity has brought to our lives both individually and as a nation. Work will soon go into including this important message in our Constitution.

I wish you all a day of reflection and rest as you take the time to ponder on how far we have come as individuals and together as a nation, as we continue to charter our course into the future.

May God bless you all.