I went to see Hoax the other day and found him splitting wood in order to make a fence around Ginalyn’s grave to keep pigs from rooting around in the loose ground. We talked for a while about the conclusion of the traditional customs surrounding death and as we talked, Hoax told me the family had discussed Ginalyn’s death and determined the cause. Here is the story:

A few days before Ginalyn died, a man came by the house when only Ginalyn was home and gave her two bananas which she ate. These bananas had been poisoned. The poison made Ginalyn very sick and gave her bad diarrhea (which wouldn’t stop even with medicine) and eventually led to her death. Ginalyn had told her parents about the bananas and the man after the fact, but she did not recognize and could not identify the man. Additionally, at the time he came, no one was around outside to see him.

This type of explanation is not unusual here in PNG where no one ever dies of natural causes. For many people, every death is attributed to sorcery and to a responsible individual.

Hoax told me that some of the family would use their own sorcery to determine who the man was.* Traditionally, the next step would be to take revenge on that person or his family. However, Hoax told me he doesn’t care who it was and that he would just let God judge the man.

You may be thinking, “If Hoax is a Christian, how can he believe the story about the poison when Ginalyn obviously died from the chronic, deadly disease she had been suffering with for more than a year?” My only answer would be: come live here and you will see how he can believe that. It is easy for outsiders like us to identify parts of PNG culture that seem ridiculous, unbiblical or at least unscientific, but it’s harder from the inside.

To me, the more significant thing is this: despite the fact that Hoax has not rejected all of PNG’s traditional beliefs, he is trusting in the sovereignty of God and leaving room for God’s judgement rather than taking things in his own hands. He is trusting that Ginalyn’s sickness and her death were under God’s control and so is whatever comes next. And that is something to praise God for.

*I bet it turns out to be someone they already don’t like.


  1. Wow! What a testimony to God working in his heart. I have followed this story from the beginning, and it’s amazing how God has softened his heart, maybe not the way we would write it out to happen, but in His own way!
    BTW, have some family friends, Gary & Annie Earle that have been missionaries in PNG with New Tribes for over 30 plus years, always have been blessed to see how God is working through the ministry there.

  2. The Glover Family

    Amen to that.

  3. Mollie

    so cool to see God working and redeeming Hoax even within the parameters of his culture. It really seems huge for him to give that revenge over to God… a lesson we all need to remember. There it may be witchcraft but here at home it is called the “silent treatment” to punish someone when they have hurt us. 🙂

  4. I like how you challenge us to try to understand what Hoax and his family believes, based on their culture. It’s so easy to read in our belief system to another culture.

    And when you consider his background and family’s beliefs, that makes his trust in God in this situation all the more miraculous. Him trusting God with his daughter’s death is a much bigger deal than we can imagine.

  5. Kelley Haff

    Thanks for sharing. It must be so fun to see further confirmation of God working in Hoax. As I started to read the story, the skeptic in me became worried about where you were going. I love the lessons. Can you imagine how many things we will learn that we have corrupted and don’t even realize it? How many things we have adopted from our culture and just assume they are normal when really they are not what God intended for us at all?

  6. Denise Corey


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