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Three Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod missionaries from the United States who are serving in Papua New Guinea (PNG) face ongoing attempts by the PNG Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and his department to deport them.

The three — the Rev. Jeffrey Horn, Julie Lutz and Anton Lutz (40 years in PNG among them) — have legal representation and are in contact with the U.S. Embassy.

The three have not been officially served deportation orders nor have they seen complaints lodged against them. The minister has sought to justify the deportation action in national newspaper articles and a full-page advertisement. He alleges the three have breached PNG law and interfered in local and church politics. No investigation involving the missionaries has been carried out. On Monday, Dec. 8, the missionaries were emailed a letter instructing them to leave Papua New Guinea voluntarily by Dec. 12.

According to newspaper reports filed Dec. 5, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has intervened and ordered the Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato, not to deport the missionaries. The prime minister has set up an investigation headed by Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc. The missionaries have not yet been briefed regarding the scope of the intended investigation.

Because the complaints upon which the deportation is based are unknown, and because due process has not been followed, the missionaries welcome the prime minister’s independent investigation. The missionaries also will request a Committee of Review to look into their case so that the cancellation of their entry permits might be revoked.

As guests of Papua New Guinea over many years, the missionaries seek to abide by all PNG laws and expect public servants and politicians to do the same. They will respect the rule of law.

Posted Dec. 9, 2014