20 July 2012
As communications become ever more advanced – even in Papua New Guinea – so does the role of CRMF, MAF’s communications wing for remote areas. CRMF’s Michael Wakefield discusses.
In the early 1950s as missionaries cut trails into remote jungles in PNG and MAF were beginning flying operations across the vast remote countryside, it became obvious that a form of communication was desperately needed. CRMF entered PNG to answer this need, putting the first radio on our network in 1957. Since then HF radio has been the sole communications lifeline for many remotely located missionaries, churches, schools and health centres.
So these have been our services to the Christian community in PNG so far. But what is happening now? Well over the last seven years that I have lived in PNG I have observed the following:
• Missionary numbers in country and particularly in the remote areas continue to decline. This is not just restricted to other missions but also CRMF’s own ability to keep providing the services we always have. It also means that now the churches of PNG are mainly run by local people. For us this means two things: often they require help in the area of technology, and also the sources of funding that the churches can access is reduced.
• The introduction of a new mobile phone company in 2006 has had a massive effect on communications, even reaching many remote locations that once relied only on HF radio. Although many still rely on HF radio, I cannot say it is as crucial for all remote people as it previously was.
• Missionary needs have also changed. Whereas before the HF radio was their only contact with the outside world, now most require internet and access it through mobile phone signals or satellite technologies. Whereas before CRMF was their only source of technical supplies and advice, now many source their technical items from overseas.
• With rising western trends and a young population, the old ways of doing mission aren’t as effective as previously. This is especially true in the cities, where new forms of social media (such as Facebook) and communication (SMS) influence them heavily.
Mission Aviation Fellowship
Castle Hill Avenue, FOLKESTONE, CT20 2TN UK, Tel: 01303 852 819
Registered Charity Number 1064598 (England & Wales) and SC039107 (Scotland)