Tribal believers face shame for faith

By July 27, 2012

Papua New Guinea (MNN) — In ancient times, the prophet Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh to repent and turn to God. Miraculously, the entire city did just that.

But what happens when the entire city, or town, or village hears the message, but not everyone repents? What happens when much of the community remains hostile to God's plan?

Missionaries in Papua New Guinea with New Tribes Mission are finding out the hard way what it looks like when only a portion of a people responds.

Less than a year ago, the Siar people heard the Gospel message. Many joyfully trusted Christ. Now, believers among the Siar are growing and beginning to emerge as Bible teachers and leaders, and are reaching out to share the same Gospel message with others.

But in spite of good strong Bible teaching and discipleship, the believers must learn to deal with persecution from outsiders, notes NTM. Shame is a very significant fear among the Siar, and with the close relationships shared by all, gossip and slander can have a very negative effect.

Along with standing up to those who desire to bring shame to the name of Jesus, the Siar believers are struggling with the clash of their old worldview and the truth they know from God's Word. The truth of the Word is a new concept that the believers are just now internalizing.

Meanwhile, there have been court cases over who is a rainmaker or who is purported to have worked black magic, so threats and accusations abound. Those outside the faith are doing their very best to undermine the new believers and the new truths they are proclaim.

"How does the believer wade through that while being salt and light in his world?" asks missionary Lane Sanford.

Pray that the Siar believers will continue to proclaim the Gospel message and face the persecution from outsiders with grace and strength. To learn more about the work of NTM across Papua New Guinea and elsewhere around the globe, click here.

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