Highlands Lutheran International School
The Highlands Lutheran International School (HLIS) is located in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) missionaries established HLIS for the purpose of teaching missionary children with generous support from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. The school opened in February 1958 with Don and Flo Gerber as the first called teachers. Many more teachers followed and buildings were erected to accommodate the hundreds of missionary and expatriate children who lived in PNG. After PNG independence in 1975, fewer LCMS missionaries served in PNG, and HLIS opened its doors and mission to welcome local students who met the academic and financial requirements.
Some years ago, the LCMS withdrew completely from the school on account of a tribal fight that endangered the students and staff and led to the burning of its classroom and library. With encouragement and support of the Enga Provincial Governor, Sir Peter Ipatas, the school was reopened and has seen many renovation projects since, including new dormitories, classrooms and housing for teachers.
Currently, there are more than 250 students enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, including 50 boarding students. Most of the students are from PNG, however there are also students from the Philippines and Sri Lanka, whose parents live and work in the area. Most of the teaching staff is Papua New Guineans, although there are teachers and administrators from the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
HLIS wants to be known as a private Lutheran school. For a number of years, a Lutheran chaplain from the Gutnius Lutheran Church led weekly devotions and chapel services and conducted Sunday worship. In 2015, Dr. Todd and Jan Luedtke, former LCMS missionaries to PNG and elsewhere in Asia, were invited to come to HLIS to assist the chaplain and teach Christian Religious Education (CRE). For health reasons, they could not return for the 2016 school year. The LCMS missionary Rev. Larry Matro and his wife Tina served at HLIS for the first term of the 2016 school year. Pastor Matro led Sunday worship, organized weekly chapel and devotions and taught 12 hours of CRE a week while Tina helped with teaching Bible verses and songs to the primary grades. They were unable to remain beyond the first term due to other duties. Please pray that the Lord will raise up the right person(s) to come to PNG to assume this challenging, rewarding and exciting work. Pastor Matro comments, “There is such a need for a clear Christian witness at HLIS as the students come from many church backgrounds. In addition, these students may be the future leaders of this country. It is exciting to think what a strong Christian foundation in the school years would do in the hearts and lives of the students who will go on from here to become doctors, accountants, engineers and political leaders!”
Contributed by Tina Matro.