A PMV (Public Motor Vehicle – buses or trucks that transport goods or people for hire) was coming down the mountain and the brakes failed. Many people were injured and several lost their lives. As I talked to people about the accident, the talk immediately turned to the spiritual reasons for the accident (was it sorcery?) or the dreams that people had that warned them not to get on the bus.
This is part of the culture that is ingrained in Papua New Guinea (PNG) people from birth. It is a perspective where the supernatural and the physical interact constantly and there is no such thing as random chance. This interaction is evident throughout cultural events such as burials, weddings, or rites of passage. But how does one evaluate cultural rituals in light of God’s Word and how does someone make changes to their own culture?
We’ve just finished our Culture Meets Scripture workshop hosted by SIL and the Pastor’s Fraternal in Wewak. Amy West and Jo Shetler were the teachers and we grappled with these issues. We had leaders from fourteen different denominations and forty-three participants.
We learned that it isn’t just the actions that need to be evaluated, but more importantly the reasons for the actions and the consequences if the actions are not done. Only by verbalizing, evaluating, and addressing the underlying reasons can real change be accomplished. We ended with drawing up action plans for how to take the things we learned and teach others. Some are already teaching the things they learned this week!
This workshop also provided me with the tools I need to evaluate my American culture. But that sounds like a good topic for my next post.