Culture Meets Scripture

Story by Karen Weaver, Photos by Luke Aubrey

In many parts of Papua New Guinea, people have gathered in villages to attend Culture Meets Scripture workshops. Through drama, small group discussions, in depth research, and Bible study, they seek God’s truth regarding many traditional practices. Often it brings about changes in specific areas of their lives.

Following the workshop on an island in eastern PNG, the translator for that group testified, “We were encouraged to see particular attention given to the traditional practice of compelling a newly-widowed woman to stop eating many types of nicer food for a period of time, along with other ways she is expected to live uncomfortably.” From examining the Scriptures, the people themselves concluded, “Nothing in Scripture agrees with how we treat our widows.” Now they plan to treat widows with more compassion and dignity.

In another place, a teen girl died unexpectedly shortly after a Culture Meets Scripture workshop had been held in her village.  Rather than engaging in the usual culturally accepted practices of blaming people and acquiring wealth following the death of an individual, her parents chose to live out the biblical principles they had just learned. The way they handled the death made a positive impact on others in their community.

At a different time, a Culture Meets Scripture team member shared, “We used to fear a certain bird call because our ancestors taught us that it was an evil messenger of death. But after taking time to examine this belief in light of Scripture, we realized these birds have been created by God and we don’t have to fear when we hear their song. Instead, we are to sing along with them and trust and praise God.”

Understanding Scripture more clearly has helped many Papua New Guineans to live a life that is more filled with peace and hope. Like the group that learned about the bird, many leave with a greater trust in God, singing His praises as they go.

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