For once this was an easy update to write since someone else did the groundwork! Thank you, Sepik Regional co-ordinator Greg Greenlaw!
The attached update states a current need for prayer on behalf of 6 unreached people groups in our region of PNG.
Won’t you please be praying with us for laborers to be a part of seeing these groups, and the hundreds more tribes who still need to be reached with the Good News of Jesus.
Last month I mentioned that there are still many people groups in Papua New Guinea who have never heard the Good News of Jesus. Depending on what criteria is used to determine a tribe’s understanding of the Gospel, estimates vary as to the number of tribes still to be reached. An “average” estimate is that there are around 200 of the 850 language groups in this country still waiting for the privilege to hear the truth about Jesus taught to them in their mother tongue. Our area coordinator Greg Greenlaw recently compiled a short list of the tribes in our part of the country that are considered highest on the priority list needing missionaries. There are many many others besides these few but here are 6 people groups that perhaps you would like to be praying for specifically.
Population 1700, 11 villages in a rugged mountain location straddling the Enga and Sepik provinces.
The local government official Kaunsil Bob was the only competent Pidgin speaker the survey team met. They found no shift among the villagers toward speaking the trade language of PNG – Melanesian pidgin – instead of their own mother tongue.
When quizzed about the gospel and salvation, their answers all catered around “repenting” and stopping sinful habits such as stealing, adultery, jealousy, fighting and doing sorcery / “poison.” There was no mention of Christ, the work of Christ, or faith in Christ. When prompted, they would occasionally stumble on clichés as “get Jesus” but are very confused and unclear when it comes to the gospel of grace. This leaves them trusting in a works based religion or still clinging to their traditional ancestral beliefs.
Population 350 in 2 villages on the Sepik River. These people have given a very eager invitation for missionaries to come live among them and teach them about God. Though most are fluent in Melanesian Pidgin and a few know a bit of English, this has not helped them in their understanding of the Gospel.
Partnership with Mariama Church. Population 1,700 in 6 villages off tributaries of the main river. These people desperately want NTM
missionaries to come. Evangelism of this language group is achievable by the Christians in the neighboring tribe Mariama, but a translation would need to be supported by missionaries.
Population ~1/3 of 5,800, 9 villages Mountains of Central Range. They have given an urgent request for missionaries to come.
The Hewa language group has 7 dialects spread over 850 square miles. NTM-PNG has missionary teams in two other dialect clusters, but this one is strategic to reaching the whole Language Group.
Population 400 in 6 villages along a tributary off the Sepik River. The Afundi people too associate religion with their own works – don’t chew betel nut, don’t smoke, don’t make and sell carvings. Christ and His work on Calvary are not connected at all with their understanding of church related beliefs.
Population 300 living in 3 villages in the hill country in the northwestern part of PNG. This is considered one of the least touched places left in the country.
No church work is currently taking place among these people though some individuals have had limited contact with religious groups.
From letters in their file – the missionaries who did the original survey into this area interviewed a couple of the Umeda men asking them what they know about God. Here’s how those conversations went:
Interview #1 Do you know if you will go to heaven when you die? No, I can’t tell. Which people go to heaven and which people go to hell? If you believe you go to heaven. If you don’t you’ll go to hell. What do you mean by belief? Don’t practice immorality, don’t steal, don’t fight, don’t do bad actions. If you are always good you’ll go to God. How about you? Where will you go? I desire to go to God. How can a sinner go to heaven? I don’t know.
Interview #2 Where is God? I don’t know. You remember that God created a man and a woman, right? What were their names? Ummmm, I’ve forgotten. Do you remember how God made them? Not really. How did sin begin for Adam and Eve? The man of the ground tricked them. What was the payment for sin? I don’t know. What is sin? Fighting, smoking, chewing betel nut, wife stealing, sorcery, immorality, murder, stealing. How about lusting but not actually committing adultery? Is that sin or not? Not sure about that one. Who goes to heaven and who goes to hell? Not too sure about that. Where do you think you will go? We’ll have to wait and see.
Such responses are typical of people who have heard a bit about God and Jesus but have never been taught the truths of God in their mother tongue. They tend to mix what they hear with their traditional beliefs, making for a religion of works rather than salvation by grace thru faith in Christ.
The needs of these 6 tribal groups were recently presented to a small group of new missionaries currently doing their orientation in the country. Won’t you please pray that God will raise up at least a few from among them to come to help these tribal people. They will likely be making their decisions about where to work sometime in the next few weeks.
The missionaries will first need to live among them and learn their language and culture. Only then can they know how to effectively communicate God’s truth without the ones listening just synchronizing what they hear with what they already traditionally believe. Understanding this is vital to faithfully translating God’s Word, clearly teaching the foundational truths from Creation through the life of Christ, and then sharing His great sacrifice for us.
Though these tribes may seem small population wise, the individuals in these ethnic groups deserve to have the opportunity to hear of Christ and accept His death as payment for their sins too. Won’t you please pray with us to that end?
Reaching these tribes is not the work of just a few. You are a vital and much appreciated part of the team. Thank you for all you do to help carry the load, supporting the work God is doing and yet desiring to do in Papua New Guinea. It is a privilege to be your representative in His work here. Thank you!
Co-laboring with you to bring back Christ as King!