I met this guy up near the airstrip. He told me (in Pidgin) that he is from over the mountain–a different language group. He explained that the language we are learning, as well as all the others in the area are derived from his language. His language, he claims, is the original and came straight from the tower. The tower? Yeah, the tower of Babel.

This is a good example of the effects (or consequences depending on your perspective) of past missionary efforts in PNG. One book I have read compared the initial competition between rival missions to a land grab in which the two major players were merely trying to stake their claim to as much of the island as possible. Because their communication was limited to Pidgin and quantity was more important than quality, we often now see snippets from Bible stories intertwined with traditional beliefs. On top of that we see groups attempting to “do church” one day a week without any real understanding of the gospel and then following other beliefs the rest of the week. This is why we are working to learn the people’s mother tongue and it’s why we plan to be here in one spot for a long time.

2 Comments
  1. Thankful (and inspired) by your work.

  2. Brian Gural

    This is a great point and sobering to know and feel as we all try to do this in a number of contexts.

    Thank you for the insight.

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