BY MELTON PAIS
PASTOR Mathew Tapus is currently the Pastor of Gerehu Christian Apostolic Fellowship, based at Waikele. He is the General Superintendent Elect of the Christian Apostolic Fellowship (CAF) which is a member of the Apostolic church worldwide and the Evangelical Alliance of PNG. He oversees more than 400 CAF churches in the country.
Mathew was once employed by the bank where he dealt with people and advised many into profitable businesses and good lives. He advised clients on how to use their money or where to invest so they could get good returns from it. He also saw people who didn’t have long term financial plans and lived from pay cheque to pay cheque.
He was helping others and the pay was good but the job did not sitcomfortably with him.
There was this tugging from within that he couldn’t quite place his finger on. He left banking and took up wellplaced managerial jobs in private business but the nagging within continued.
Mathew eventually realized that his greater calling was to preach the Word of God.
Here is his story of how he turned his back on helping people to be materially rich to being spiritually endowed.
Mathew was born in 1963 and is the second in a family of six.
He did most of his primary and high schooling in Mt Hagen when his father Tapus where his father was working with kiaps. Tapus previously pioneered with overseas missionaries in Laiagam, Enga province and he was among the first indigenous church workers in 1954.
An uncle of his, late Reverend Joseph Yans Lepatu and missionaries from Finland had started Filidaphia Christian Congregation’ (FRK) in Mt. Hagen in the early 1970s which later became the Assembly of God (AOG) church and branched out into the highlands region.
So attending church and worshiping God had always been part of Mathew’s life.
At 16 years of age, he continued his schooling at Aiyura National High School, Eastern Highlands from 1980 to 1981 and completed grades 11 and 12.
Back in those days there was work available if one looked hard enough and over Christmas holidays in 1981Mathew sought part time employment with the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac Bank). What he thought would be a short sojourn lasted eight years. During this time he was acquainted with all facets of banking and on occasion worked in relief managerial positions for the smaller branches and agencies in the highlands. A future with banking was looking great for him.
The following year in June, something significant happened in Mathew’s life. He became a bornagain Christian and gave his life to Christ. He was still an employee of the bank.
“For me, that was a turning point and there was no looking back,” he said.
The Apostolic Church resumed in Mt. Hagen and his family left AOG to return to their former church.
As a young man, Mathew would preach on the streets and in settlements and market places around Mt. Hagen.
In February of 1988 he resigned from his bank job and went to worship training with the Australian Apostolic church in Melbourne for a year.
He returned home the following year and was ordained as the first young (single) pastor with the Apostolic Church in the middle of 1989.
That was also the year he met and married his wife Linda Kissam. Like his parents, Mathew and Linda also have five sons and a daughter.
In 1991 Mathew was employed with a major firm in Mt Hagen and worked his way up to becoming the first National Branch Manager four years later in 1995. He resigned his job to take up full time ministry with the Christian Apostolic Fellowship (CAF).
He always had two ambitions in life. The first and the foremost was to be a church pastor or evangelist. The second was to be a politician.
In 1992 he convincingly won the ‘T’ School ward council election. That was to be leverage for the next general elections when he would pursue the Mt Hagen Open Seat.
That plan, and future ideas about politics for that matter, were stalled when he resigned from his seat two years into the five year tenure.
For Mathew, too much talk and no service was not his idea of politics.
Asked why he left a promising political career, his response was this biblical quote “greater love has no man then this, that he should lay down his life for a brother”.
He said he has no regrets serving God and his people. Mathew says gaining the whole world and losing one’s life to the fires of hell is not worth it.
In 2000, he was Assistant Pastor based at ‘Sel Haus’ church in Mt Hagen. After taking up sessional pastoral work in Kimbe, West New Britain and Maprik, East Sepik, he was transferred to the Gerehu CAF Church in 2004 where he has been since.
Mathew admits he has his share of trials but he doesn’t let these keep him away from God. He marvels at how his life has unraveled but says everything works according to God’s plans and for his good.
As the General Superintendent elect of a church with 400 branches he says it will only be through God’s strength and wisdom that good spirited men, women and youths will champion God’s church into the 21st century.
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