Tribal Members Turning to Christ in Papua New Guinea

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CWN.org (Papua New Guinea)-- Members of a tribal group that lives in bondage to sorcery, spirits, and sickness are coming to Christ on the island of Papua New Guinea, New Tribes Mission reports. This week, tribal elders baptized 59 new believers of the Siawi tribe into the Christian faith, increasing the number of converts to about 100.

Despite some obstacles, including a lack of deep water, the Siawi allowed nothing to interfere with the baptisms. They built a dam to create a pool deep enough to dunk new believers in the river made shallow by a lack of rain. When missionary Tom Brendle was too sick to conduct the ceremonies, he commissioned two believers, Kwaelom and Someliae, to take his place.

The two men gladly agreed and had the opportunity to baptize their own children. After the baptism, missionaries asked all of the Siawi believers to stand with the newly-baptized believers.

"Our desire is for them to begin to see that they are one body in Christ," wrote missionary Danielle Brendle. "There have been many divisions in the church here, and they probably need to be taught from 1 Corinthians, as much as Romans."

The missionaries are beginning to teach the book of Romans after finishing the book of Acts just a few weeks ago. About 100 Siawi have been coming to the Bible lessons.

Siawi Christians are beginning to realize that they need to live out what they are learning in the Bible, which forbids many things that they do. Their culture is in bondage to fear of sorcery, spirits, sickness, and death. Kwaelom was thoughtful after hearing the final lesson from Acts.

"I just can't stop thinking about what Paul said in Acts 28:26. Isaiah wrote that the Jews would hear and hear but not know. We have been just like that," he said.

The subject of baptism came up several times while the tribe was studying Acts, and the missionaries invited the Siawi to ask about being baptized if they were interested. They made sure that the baptism candidates fully understood the significance of their salvation and the purpose of being baptized.

They were surprised when Noa, Ekebauele and Sek--young men who had been making trouble for the church--expressed an interest in being baptized. Ekebauele used to throw stones at the building where the Bible lessons were taking place.

"Oh yes, before I wasn't a believer in Christ. I didn't care about God's road. But as I listened to the teaching on Acts, my thinking became clear," Ekebauele told Brendle and Swanson.

"I understand that Christ's death made the way for me to go to heaven. His blood was shed for me, and there is no other way for my sins to be paid for. I want to be baptized because it is what Jesus said should happen to those who believe in Him. I want to follow Jesus' Talk."

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