Interview with CHM Magazine in Papua New Guinea (2009)
Which part of Australia are you from?
My family and I have been living in Queensland for the past 18 years, about an hour north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast. But my teenage years were in the industrial city of Wollongong, NSW. That’s where Kerrie and I met and got married. I drove trucks for a few years and worked as a spray painter before venturing into music.
I understand you’re parents served with the Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Eastern Highlands during the 1960’s. How old were you at that point in time?
How long did you stay in PNG? Which parts of PNG did you reside in?
I was only 4 months old back in 1960 when my parents arrived in Lae. They spent a year in the Markham valley before moving to Aiyura in the Eastern Highlands. Our first home was a Kuni grass village house. My father helped to build the town of Ukarumpa. My mother worked in the administration offices. My sister and brother and I went to Aiyura Primary school out near the airstrip and the coffee plantation.
What is one of your fondest memories of PNG?
Some of the amazing adventure journeys I went on with my father in MAF planes out to remote villages and also driving the Kassam Pass in the wet season to Lae and back with supplies. Or helping to dig a bogged Landrover out of the deep mud when visiting villages. These are all great memories. Most of all I loved the work that my parents were doing, they had such a genuine love for the people of PNG and a dream for the country.
How fluent do you speak pidgin?
Ahh… mi savi tok bilong yu lik lik tasol. Em i ol rait.
What musical instruments do you play?
I learned to play piano in Ukarumpa but could never read the music. I learned to play guitar like most PNG kids in the village. You just look, listen and learn from others. So I play guitar and I have been playing harmonica since I was about 3 years old. I love to play blues harp.
What denomination are you?
My parents attended a Baptist church in Australia in my teenage years but in PNG we fellowshipped every Sunday with families from many denominations. So these days I work with many churches. God has no favourites. I have loved working with Living Light Foursquare in Port Moresby because they are out there really putting faith into action and helping the poor.
What is your current occupation?
I spend a lot of time doing concerts across Australia and am also the CEO of World Missions International. But music is my main work.
Where are you currently based?
How did you get in contact with CHM in PNG?
I gave 2 of my CD’s to one of the salesmen at the CHM store in Boroko and asked him if I could meet Mr Chin. I was heading to Hula and Baracau village for a few days and when I returned to Port Moresby there was a message delivered saying Raymond Chin would like to have a 10 minute meeting. The meeting went for 2 hours as we shared our love of PNG and told stories of growing up in this nation. He appreciated my heart to see music being used to bring hope to people. To confront some of the big issues like HIV AIDS, unemployment, crime, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence. I shared of my desire to do concerts and educational workshops across every province of PNG in the coming years and he offered to help get the dream going.
I also understand that you’ve done a lot of traveling around the world – where have you traveled to? Why did you travel there? What was the experience like?
My music has opened some amazing doors to travel to the USA, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. But My love is for Australia and the nations of the South Pacific. That’s where I really love to travel. But people have the same needs wherever you go. I have seen the results of war. I have seen extreme poverty and I have seen the oppression that some religions and governments destroy their people with. I have been to places where the land is cursed because of the greed of men. But people are amazing, especially those who are poor. Life is very hard but they will always have a smile for you and they never forget you and what you have done for them. Helping others is the greatest gift you can ever give.
I understand you were the first Australian gospel artist to release an album on CD? Could you tell me the name of the album? When it was released? Did you receive an award or a certificate or some kind of acknowledgement for it? Which recording label did you release the album under?
Yes I received a few awards. ARIA songwriting awards and International Artist of the Year in 1996 by the DOVE awards in the USA. In 1988 the CD “Children of the Western World” was released through WORD Records and became the first Australian Gospel album reach GOLD status in sales. But I do not spend too much time chasing awards, I prefer being out on the road performing and encouraging people.
You recently were part of the Joyce Meyer ministry crusades that took place in Port Moresby- how did you become involved in that?
The Joyce Meyer Organization must have heard about the work I am doing in Australia and PNG and invited me to take part. It was a great honour to serve all of the events in Mt Hagen and Port Moresby. I was able to join forces with my favourite PNG Band P2UIF and the people of the Western Highlands loved it. I hope I can do more tours with them.
About your album – why title it ‘Lead me Home’- what is the significance behind it?
Well I may be a white man who lives in Australia but my heart belongs to PNG. “Tok ples bilong me tru”. Whenever I come to PNG, especially up to the Highlands I feel like I have come home. Lead me home is a collection of songs that I hope will help to introduce my music to the people of PNG and the Solomon Islands. The title comes from the theme of the song Highlands Highway.
About the songs: Highlands Highway, Jesus Em I Bikpela, Wantok Tru – Who wrote these songs?
These were all written by me. I actually wrote Wantok Tru about 10 years ago in the Solomon Islands. They laugh at me there because I speak PNG pidgin.
What about the song ‘Saints of Sudan’- Could you explain further about it? What was the experience that lead you to write the song?
I am broken hearted over the persecution that takes place in many Islamic nations towards people who live for Jesus Christ. Thousands of Christians have lost their lives and millions made homeless by the oppression of corrupt governments. PNG has a great responsibility to help the people of West Papua and bring hope to them in the years to come. Love and forgiveness are the only answers when you are up against a government that suppresses freedom and the rights to make a better life for your people. What has happened in many African nations will eventually happen in PNG if we do nothing to help our neighbours.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard your music before
Down to earth acoustic rock, country and blues with a message that will speak hope and vision into peoples lives. Music is a great gift and we can either use it for good or we can just waste it. I love all styles of music and believe it can all be used to inspire generations.