Rev. Timothy Tipitap, Foursquare national leader of Papua New Guinea (PNG), has gone to be with the Lord. He was 63 years old. He had been admitted to a hospital recently because of the sudden onset of typhoid fever but was unable to recover. He died on Monday, Mar. 8.
The second Papua New Guinean to serve as national leader (following Pastor Kumoro Vira), Timothy will be greatly missed in the global Foursquare family.
Foursquare Church President Randy Remington says it’s not uncommon to hear someone labeled a “nation-changer” today, but Pastor Timothy fit the definition with his rock-solid belief that you can change a nation through changing hearts.
“This required the proclamation and the demonstration of the gospel,” Randy says. “Caring for the whole person, the love of Jesus compelled him and The Foursquare Church of PNG to minister to his nation’s spiritual, physical and intellectual needs.”
Leslie Keegel, chair of the Foursquare Global Council, notes that Timothy had been faithfully serving as national leader for more than 20 years and pioneered amazing growth since 2005. Timothy also served as regional chair for the council’s South Pacific Region since October 2016.
“His passion, love for the Lord, and care for all people—especially in his region—is unprecedented,” says Leslie, who also serves as the national leader in Sri Lanka. “His love for this global Foursquare family was clearly evident. With great enthusiasm and proclamation, he led the celebration of an entire nation under the banner of Jesus’ love and saw thousands come to Christ.”
Ted Vail, D.I.S., senior director of global mission for Foursquare, calls Timothy a “uniter” of many tribes and people, and so beloved the entire nation will be called to a period of mourning.
Despite limited resources in a developing nation, Timothy as national leader led Foursquare in the building and staffing of more than 400 primary and secondary schools, as well as 40 medical clinics.
As Foursquare PNG has grown to 1,800 churches, Ted says it has been an important social reinforcement, showing how lifting up the name of Jesus leads to finding a way to sending missionaries, building schools and planting churches.
“Timothy embodied something amazing,” Ted says. “He had vision and capacity to lead in both expansion and uniting amidst a nation of tribes and hundreds of languages, and proclamation and demonstration of the whole Foursquare Gospel.”
Foursquare’s work on PNG dates back to 1956, when Mason and Virgene Hughes planted the first Foursquare church on the South Pacific island. The training they and successive missionaries offered helped PNG move from a Stage 1 to a Stage 4 nation in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Model. The final stage of sending out missionary workers came under Timothy’s leadership, with leaders and workers going to such places as Australia, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
In addition, Timothy started a Bible college and helped Foursquare become known as a church that helps train and educate the nation. He was deeply engaged in serving communities and villages.
Born on May 4, 1957, in the Enga Province—the Highlands’ northernmost region—Timothy grew up Catholic and regularly opposed, insulted and persecuted Christians of other denominations.
However, after sustaining a serious back injury in a car accident as a university student, a nurse who attended the Goroka Foursquare Church cared for him. Her demonstration of love and joy compelled him to reconsider his beliefs, which ultimately led to him joining Foursquare.
After completing his degree, he returned to his home in Wapenamanda and became a medical worker in a hospital. Timothy and a close friend, Siki, worked to plant a church in Enga that celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019.
One FMI missionary who served alongside Timothy at the beginning of his service as national leader calls him a “gentle giant” who was a man of strength and vision.
George (last name withheld for security reasons) says Timothy’s soft-spoken manner concealed an unstoppable sense of mission and a passionate desire to see transformation in his native land.
“His joyful spirit, belief in people and desire to please God were contagious and will be greatly missed,” says George.
Frank Greer, now area missionary over East and Southern Africa, calls Timothy one of the greatest leaders he’s ever known; he says Timothy’s life and exploits sound a lot like that of the apostle Paul.
“From the time I knew him, I saw that everything he sought to do, he did,” says Frank, who met the leader in 1983 when Timothy was the supervisor for Enga Province.
“He planted churches, raised up leaders, engaged in opening schools, medical clinics, training centers and building the kingdom of God wherever and however he could. The church around the world has lost a mighty man of God. There will never be another just like Timothy Tipitap.”
Timothy is survived by his wife, Salome, a nurse who was educated in New Zealand and was a vital part of his ministry. Pray for her, as well as their children Nathan, Nathaniel and Priscilla. Funeral arrangements are pending.
To help support Foursquare’s work in Papua New Guinea, consider giving to the Global Missions Fund to support the work in PNG and the South Pacific.
Remembering Rev. Timothy Tipitap
- President Randy Remington: “The generations of discipled believers and developed leaders are a testimony to how God worked through a man who had a clear vision for his moment in time and prioritized the generations to come.”
- Ted Vail, D.I.S., FMI: “Timothy won friends in mere minutes, sent missionaries around the world and to the next village, and innovated schools, medical clinics and funding streams to bless the land.”
- Frank Greer, area missionary: “He was humble, loving, kind and caring. At the same time, he had a dogged determination to see the church flourish and people come into the kingdom of God.”
- George, area missionary: “He loved Foursquare and was fiercely loyal to his church and the pastors, leaders and members who were part of the family. He also loved his people and nation, and was a true father who left an eternal impact.”
- Paul Greer, FMI assistant director: “Timothy was a true humble-leader visionary, but always able to actualize the God-given vision that drove Him. His holistic kingdom approach to National Church Development has been fruitful far beyond the doors of the church. His miracle stories of provision and protection have always encouraged and inspired.”