Being slightly larger than California in land area, Papua New Guinea is very diverse ecologically. A chain of mountains runs east to west across the main island covered in tropical rainforest. As the mountains descend to the coasts, rainforests are replaced by large wetlands. East of the mainland lie about 600 small islands. This geographical complexity has largely isolated people groups from one another and from urbanization.
Papua New Guinea is home to over 830 different people groups each with their own language, making it the most linguistically diverse country in the world. A simple trade language called Tok Pisin is used throughout the country, but most people use their mother tongue for communication. You can see the list of all languages here.
With all of these languages, it is difficult to clearly communicate the Gospel and the Bible. Here is a breakdown of the number of languages that have Scripture translated. More than half of all the languages have ZERO verses.
- Total Number of Living Languages: 838
- Languages with no Scripture: 462
- Languages with Scripture portions: 125
- Languages with complete New Testaments: 236
- Languages with complete Bibles: 15
Source: Wycliffe Global Alliance
Animism, broadly defined, is the belief in spirits and impersonal forces fundamentally at work in the physical world. This is the dominant view in Papua New Guinea and can look like ancestor worship, sorcery, sacrifices, and an abundance of fickle, uncaring spirits. Because the spirit world is ultimately the cause of everything, the people live in fear that they might offend the spirits. So they make sure to perform mystic rituals and avoid certain taboos in the hopes they can appease the spirits and avoid harm. Ethnos360 makes sure that before we begin teaching we gain a deep understanding of the people’s worldview so that these beliefs are fully replaced by a biblical one. See more on how Ethnos360 does missions here.