[Campbells in PNG] March 2020
the campbells
Supporting Bible translation in Papua New Guinea through
computer support and health care
March 2020

Madi Language - Male Initiation Rites Redeemed!

Our colleagues and good friends, Jon and Candace Jagt, serve as project managers for a multi-language translation program, which is located on the north coast of mainland Papua New Guinea. Recently, Jon and Candace shared with us this powerful story of how God is moving among the Madi language group and we couldn't wait to share it with you.  (We ask that you not share this story on social media. If there are others who you think would be interested in hearing about how God is moving among the Madi please let us know and we can share it with them via email. Thank you!)

In August 2019, a team went to Yaimas village on the Rai coast of Madang Province to run a Culture Meets Scripture workshop. Yaimas village is in the Madi language area. This area of the Rai coast has historically been a spiritually dark area of Papua New Guinea. Witch doctors, ancestor worship, cargo cult thinking and syncretistic belief systems have been the norm among these tribes. As preparations for the workshop were being made, several team members had to drop off the team for various reasons. We were also hearing reports from Yaimas of division among the community leaders and that even before the workshop began, the workshop had already created conflict among the
people. This caused the team to re-evaluate the timing of the workshop and whether to go at all. Before too long, the Lord provided new team members and the team had peace about going forward with the workshop. The team that the Lord wanted was in place.

The workshop went forward, running from 20-29 August. During the workshop we saw the Lord move among the Madi people in a powerful way. Traditional beliefs that had been held for generations were being held up to the Word of God and their true face shown.
When the Madi people dug into the reasons behind some of the traditional beliefs, they found the motivating factor for many of them was fear. Fear of sickness or death. Fear of the spirits. Fear of ancestors. When we examined these beliefs under the Word of God, we found that the Lord is in control of all things and that there is no reason to fear these other, less-powerful forces.
During the final two days of the workshop, each of the eight groups took turns presenting what they had found. All  members of the Madi community were invited to attend these presentations, and time was given for group discussion. This was the first time for many of these beliefs to be spoken out loud in public. Many speeches were made by men and women from the older and younger generations saying that the old ways were governed by fear and Satan but that the future will be the Madi people holding fast to the Lord and following the teachings of the Word of God.

Fast forward to Jan. 2020, and the timing of one of the major traditional rites of passage within the Madi community has come up. Up until now, the male initiation rites involved several weeks (sometimes months) of time where males are taken out into the jungle and taught how to be a man. This involved training in hunting, building houses and gardening. It involved training on how to seek the guidance of the spirits and the spirits of ancestors. It also involved physical cutting of initiates’ bodies, which would often lead to infection and death.

Some men in the community who had attended the Culture Meets Scripture workshop decided that it was time to redeem this practice. They gathered the boys and went out into the jungle, but this time it was different. The new practice was centered around the Word of God. The boys were given Bibles and taught how to use them! Every day began and ended with reading Scripture and worshipping God. The pastors in the Madi villages were invited to speak several times during their time in the jungle. Necklaces with a Christian cross were given to the boys! They were taught how to be men of God and good fathers and husbands -- and all this was based on the Word of God. Praise the Lord for redeeming this practice and setting the Madi people on a path that honors Him!

We praise God for his work among the Madi people!
God's Word changes lives.

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