Phil and Jill Tait have been called back to the Pacific country of Papua New Guinea after a break of two decades.
“In 1991 we received very clear leading from God to serve in PNG at the Christian Leaders’ Training College,” Phil says. “We served there for six years, me as Dean of Studies and Jill as nurse and manager of a clinic serving 5,000 people in the local villages. Jill’s parents were church-planting missionaries in PNG, where Jill spent the first six years of her life. For me, it was my first experience of ministry in the majority world and I saw the value of training Melanesians to impact their communities and even to take the gospel to the rest of the South Pacific and Asia. I pursued further studies in missions and education and then we worked with SIM in Nigeria for nine years and with the International Office for six years.”
Last year they were asked to return to CLTC. The College staff has been largely nationalised but there was no one qualified to lead the graduate programmes, so since January Phil has been Dean of Graduate Studies and recently has been appointed Vice-Principal. Jill’s work is in health education with College students and nurses. This year the Taits have split their time between PNG and New Zealand, but from 2017 they will based in PNG. They have a long term commitment to the College and say God is opening up huge opportunities.
The Christian Leaders’ Training College has been training pastors, evangelists and agriculturalists for 50 years, but now it has massive new opportunities: the government has given CLTC new status that allows it to accredit lower-level theological colleges, giving the possibility to multiply its impact through other schools. As well, the quality of its training has been recognised by Overseas Council Australia who sponsor students from other Pacific Islands to come to CLTC for a two-year Masters of Theology programme. The vision is to train 200 students in the next 20 years to be teachers and principals of theological schools in the Pacific.
CLTC will also start a new programme next year to train community development officers. This builds on extensive experience in agricultural training and will include studies in Bible, health and leadership. The main campus of CLTC is located in the Highlands of PNG near Mt Hagen, on 400 acres flanked by coffee plantations and rural villages. CLTC also has campuses in Port Moresby and Lae and a distance education programme.
“This is a beautiful country with lush vegetation and beautiful mountains,’Phil says. The people are very friendly, hospitable and love to laugh and sing. We love to have groups in our house and with a simple game there is raucous laughter within minutes. PNG remains one of the least developed countries in the world and has very poor infrastructure and services. Most children now have access to schooling, but the quality of schooling is poor and many applicants to the College are not well prepared for higher level studies. Papua New Guineans have received the gospel and churches have been planted everywhere but there is a huge lack of biblically trained pastors to lead these churches.”
Would you pray with us for the Christian Leaders’ Training College —
- for students who come from around PNG and the wider Pacific to go out and make an impact in their home areas.
- for wisdom for Phil as he helps lead the staff and training programmes
- for a much needed dental facility to be built