XENIA — Xenia First Church of the Nazarene is sending two groups to Papua New Guinea to do missions work this summer.
Team One, led by Senior Pastor Mark Atherton, consisted of 18 adults and teenagers. They departed on June 27 and returned on July 12. The second team departed July 24 and returns on Aug. 9.
The Church of the Nazarene as a denomination first sent missionaries to PNG in the 1960s. They have established a major hospital, a college of nursing, a Bible college for training ministers, and scores of churches.
The Xenia Nazarene Church became more interested in PNG when Dr. Jim and Kathy Radcliffe and their two small children were assigned as missionaries to the Nazarene Hospital in Kudjip, Western Highlands Province, in 1985. Radcliffe is the former Kathy Beam, a 1972 graduate of Xenia High School. Dr. Radcliffe was the surgeon at the hospital which has 130 beds and treated more than 55,000 people in 2017. The Radcliffes retired in December and now live in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Dr. Ben Radcliffe, son of Dr. Jim and Kathy, and his wife, Dr. Katherine (Stevens), and their four small children are now also assigned as missionaries to the same PNG location. Dr. Ben is continuing the work of his father as surgeon at the Nazarene Hospital.
Xenia Nazarene has sent mission teams to PNG in 1987, 1997, 2007, and 2016. When Rev. Atherton returned from the 2016 trip, he set a goal to take two teams in 2018 and strongly encouraged all paid staff at the church to participate.
The first team includes Rev. Atherton and his wife Sue, their sons Christopher and Levi, Children’s Pastor Brian Leach, Riverside Campus Pastor Jason McCauley and his daughter Jillian. Team Two is being led by Associate Pastor Mike Hancock and his wife Becky (Beam). They will take 18 others, 12 from Xenia Nazarene and six from two other Nazarene churches in Southwestern Ohio.
The project is to refurbish a house that has been on the mission station for 45 years so that it can be used as a school for the missionaries’ children. Workers will build new walls, install a new floor, finish drywall, paint, sand and varnish doors and desks, and prepare the building for classes starting in late August. The school is staffed by one or two volunteer teachers who give one to two years of service to the children and families on the mission station.
Team two They hope to put all the finishing touches on the new school building and to also prepare a house where the volunteer teachers will live.
Each team member raised nearly $3,500 for their airfare, food and lodging, and other travel expenses. The church contributed $10,000 to the expense of the project. Offerings, personal funds, gifts, and fundraisers have helped the participants cover their costs.
Papua New Guinea, located on a large island north of Australia, is known for its beautiful scenery and prolific floral displays.
“Getting to do hands-on missionary work, even on a short-term basis, is a lifechanging experience,” said Pastor Mike Hancock. “Most team members come back to the States with a new perspective on life and they believe their investment of time and money is well worth the blessing received.”