Recently the SPES team held a Culture meets Scripture workshop in Wewak. This was the second workshop of its kind held here and the first taught by the SPES team. With a diverse group of participants, both rural and urban, representing a diverse range of denominations as well, there was ample good discussion about the topics shared. Each group was allowed to pick a cultural topic that they would delve into on deeper levels throughout the week. Some of the topics chosen were gardening, hunting, and bride price. All of these have many customs associated with them that have been practiced for generations. Why are these customs practiced? Is it because they are afraid of what might happen if they don’t do these things? As they looked at each of the actions associated with the given topic, they began to dig down deep to see what beliefs, emotions, fears, or needs were feeding the actions. They used an illustration of a kaukau plant which is a staple food here in PNG. The leaves above the ground represent the actions that can be seen, while the kaukau underneath the surface depict beliefs, emotions, assumptions, and so much more.
After they looked at the reasons for practicing these customs, they searched the Bible to see what it had to say about the actions, but more importantly, about the root of the actions. Why do we need to pay a bride price when a girl gets married? What happens if we don’t? Part of paying the bride price is making sure that there is peace between the families and communities and that there won’t be problems in the future. Is this the best way to make sure peace is established? Do you have to appease the spirits to make your garden grow or to have a successful hunt? Who is it that sends the rain or causes things to grow? The practice of taking everyday issues and checking them in light of Scripture is an invaluable tool that they can continue to use as they return to their areas. Many came away from the course with a new understanding of what God wants for our lives and the freedom we can have in Christ – freedom from fear, freedom from evil spirits, and much more.
Pray for courage as the participants have returned to their communities. It is very difficult to stand up against community peer pressure when you are standing alone. Pray that many believers will stand together and that they help others find freedom in Christ.