After watching Hoax’s story, Sharon Jacobs, asked this:

“I thought Christianity was a new teaching where you are? Hoax said that both he and his parents went to church…people are exposed to Christianity there?”

This is a good question and one that I though could use some explanation.

In the second half of the 1880s both the Lutheran and Catholic churches established missions in Papua New Guinea and since then hundreds of other organizations have put their stamp on PNG as well. Now, the groups with the largest influence seem to be the Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Seventh Day Adventists (each with different areas of greater influence.) According to a census in 2000, Papua New Guinea is 27% Catholic, 19.5% Lutheran, 11.5% United Church and 10% 7th Day Adventist with other denominations bringing the total to 96.5% Christian.

So why are we here?

Months ago I had a conversation with a guy who told me that Papua New Guinea is a Christian nation filled with good people. He also explained that his grandparents used their magic power to help the Australian and American forces defeat the Japanese.

Hoax has been told repeatedly by “christians” that he will go to hell unless he goes to church on Saturday.

In Mibu, the believers told me about their lives before missionaries from NTM came. They went to the church building on Sundays and depended on their traditional spirit beliefs the rest of the time. They engaged in sorcery, animal sacrifice and all sorts of rites to appease the spirits despite their “christianity.”

Another missionary’s language helper here at Sobega is a Sunday School teacher. At a mumu (cookout) he warned said missionary to move inside while eating because he had noticed some other people trying to put a curse on the missionary’s food.

Hopefully you can see that there are some problems with the Christian message here in Papua New Guinea. More on this here.

3 Comments
  1. Mary Beth

    What do you guys do about corporate worship?? I’ve been meaning to ask this forever… Do y’all have a worship service on base? Do you attend some of the local churches? (like, Hoax’s church)… Would this happen on Sunday? What about communion?
    I see that y’all were at the service above…so just curious what the norm is for you guys…

  2. ryan burns

    How do you handle being told to move inside because someone is trying to put a curse on you?

    Do you stay put to show that God is bigger than any spirits or curses from man… or do you respect their cultural context and move inside to talk more about the situation without completely dismissing their fear/belief?

    • Joseph

      In that case, they didn’t explain why moving inside was necessary until later, but each situation is different. Usually, though, we try to follow their lead until we understand more fully what is going on.

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