The way the Hewans view things is much different from the way we understand things to be. They only know of the way of life that has been passed down to them from generation to generation. They have no way to figure out the truth unless someone brings them the Good News.
They are in constant fear of spirits. When we first moved into Hewa and built our houses we could not detect it. We thought that they looked so happy-go-lucky. Like they had everything they wanted by living off the land and that they were at peace with themselves and others around them. It took a while for us to begin to see through the facade that they had built up. They had tried very hard to keep us from finding out their true beliefs. Everyone must have agreed before we got there not to tell us anything that might make us believe that they were not a perfect society, a sort of Eden up there in the mountains.
But slowly we have been finding out their belief system. They are terrified of an elaborate set of spirits and sorcerers.
For instance, did you know that no Hewan can ever go into the jungle to hunt alone? No way. He for sure would be eaten by a spirit and will die. Also, no one can ever sleep alone, ever, because a spirit will see them and eat them in their sleep and they will die. The Hewans believe that this is the truth. It is one of the ways that people get sick and die. If they ever go off by themselves to get cigarette leaves or to get Beatle nut, or to gather building materials, or whatever, they will get sick and die. In their minds there is plenty of proof for this. Many people have wandered too far off into the jungle and their spirit has been eaten by a bad spirit and they have gotten sick. if there was no pig sacrifice made, they died. So many people have died that there is sure proof for this theory. Once, when I was out on a trip with some guys, we were going to sleep under this huge jutting rock with a sort of hollow space. Before we fell asleep, the man who was my translator counted one by one all the people who he could remember that had died since he was old enough to remember. He named off 75 people before he was finished, and he can’t be any older than I am. 75 proofs in his mind that you can never go into the jungle by yourself or sleep by yourself.
The Hewans believe in many spirits that they have to constantly appease and deceive. They have to plant different kinds of plants in their gardens, around their houses and along the trails to keep the spirits away. They have to offer sacrifices of pig blood to the spirits. They have to wear certain leaves and paint their faces in a certain way. Their whole lives are controlled by codes of conduct to keep the spirits from bothering them.
There are four main kinds of trees that have men spirits in them. Two of them are downright evil and two of them can be evil but can also help people. There are spirits in the rocks, mountains, rivers, plants, wild banana trees, animals, etc. The most feared spirits are the woman spirits that live where rivers come together and in swamps and at the base of the huge pine trees. There are evil spirits everywhere, none of them good. As far as we have been able to discover so far not one of them is anything like the God of the Bible. Not one of them has a plan of salvation for them. Not one of them loves them and wants to take care of them. There is absolutely no way that someone in this kind of culture could ever ask God to forgive his sins because of the sacrifice of Jesus. It is impossible unless someone goes and teaches them the message of the Bible.
To read more about the Hewan culture, read the following stories.