by Jim Tanner

Steep mountains and mist filled valleys create quite a challenge to those hiking in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Technically, the Highlands include the five provinces of Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Western Highlands, Southern Highlands and Enga.

Those seeking gold in the 1930’s were surprised to find so many people where they hadn’t expected to see any. The higher altitudes kept the malaria mosquitoes away, as well as, some of the more common diseases in the lowlands.

With the wide diversity of languages and cultures, and the constant threat of tribal warfare, the people never traveled very far from their own villages in the old days. Later, as the Australian government came in to develop the Highlands, people started moving further from home.

It seems like the Highlands has received some bad press because of the difficulty of some of the languages. It is true that the Highlands have some complex languages, but you know what? All the village kids speak them. Ha! How hard can they be? We prefer to think about Highlands languages as challenging, but not impossible.

Some of our missionaries will be teaching in their newly acquired tribal languages for the first time this year. They’ve taken up the challenge and have worked hard to get to this point. (Language and culture study is not what they really came to do. It’s just something they have to do before they present God’s Word in a clear way). Two of those languages are Kuman and Simbari. We also have missionaries who will start teaching in Wuzarambya, Benabena, and Gende for the first time next year.

Why don’t you pray and ask God to make you part of the Highlands team. We have many tribes we’d like to reach, but we don’t have enough missionaries to reach them.

Our missionaries have taken up the challenge of Highlands languages and conquered them. What about you?