In September our family had the opportunity to move into the Mengen tribe for 3 months. The Mengen people have one missionary family living them and one church. One small church.
We moved into an old missionary home beside the Flanagan family who minister and write Bible lessons for the Mengen. This move was part of our in country orientation to life in Papua New Guinea. Life in PNG is diverse. From people living on mountain sides to down in swamps. There is town life and there is bush life. Living with the Mengen was part of bush life. And it is remote. Mike drove five hours and then hiked five hours to get there. The kids and I were able to get into the village by our Ethnos360 Aviation pilots.
Our three months with the Flanagans and the Mengen was a highlight of not only out time in PNG, but really a highlight of our families life.
We learned how to live off solar power and collected rain water. We learned how to prepare for supply orders through aviation. Along with those practical things we learned how the Mengen live and what they believe. We got to learn about a religion called Kivung Cargo cult(1).
Kivung Cargo Cult. We saw it throughout the village we lived in as well as neighboring villages. The simple short version is this. Due to history and the visits of white evangelist the people came to believe that if they pray and worship gods and spirits then those who they prayed and worshiped to will send them stuff, cargo. But they must follow a list of rules, a skewed version of the Ten Commandments. If they break these they must pay the priest, local or a traveling one. Another sad reality of this belief system is that any white humans are seen as dead ancestors coming to check on them and test their beliefs. Or coming to tell them the secret to getting cargo to come.
The testimonies from believers who left the cult were eye opening. And also these testimonies encouraged us as we continued to learn Tok Pisin the national language. We want to be able to talk to people about these things. We want to be able to share the whole story of the Bible. Not snippets but all of God’s plans for us. And the freedom that comes in a relationship Jesus.
Joshua Project considers this people group reached. But less than 1% of the people are true believers who can share the Gospel clearly. They have very little resources at their exposure.
This is why we are here in PNG. I think of Jesus the good shepherd leaving the 99 for the 1 lost sheep.
We want to someday live with a people group like the Mengen here in Papa New Guinea. But to that we first need to be able to speak they national language. So we keep learning, and making mistakes and learning. We will keep at it to get to that goal someday of sharing the truth in a people groups tribal language.
1- Kivung Cargo Cult. You can find some info on the web by looking up Kivung Cargo Cult or the name Andrew Lattas. Andrew was an anthropologist who researched this cult. I first heard his name from the Mengan people. They say that he was like a type of angel or dead ancestor who come to them asking and checking up on their beliefs. They see him as proof that their beliefs are true.