Kingdom Proclaimers Report
Overcoming Challenges in “the Land of the Unexpected”
THE apostle Paul asked first-century Christians in Corinth: “If the trumpet sounds an indistinct call, who will get ready for battle? In the same way also, unless you through the tongue utter speech easily understood, how will it be known what is being spoken?”—1 Corinthians 14:8, 9.
In Papua New Guinea, sometimes called the Land of the Unexpected, Jehovah’s Witnesses encounter daunting obstacles in sounding forth the clear message of the Bible. They preach to people who speak over 700 different languages and who have a wide variety of customs. The Witnesses also contend with mountainous terrain, a lack of roads, and increasing crime. Besides all these difficulties, there is opposition from certain religious groups and, at times, even from school officials.
Nevertheless, good spiritual instruction and a growing library of Bible study aids in local languages are equipping the Witnesses to convey the good news as a distinct trumpet call. Often the response is positive, as the following reports show:
• At the start of a new school year, a teacher wanted to know why the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses do not salute the flag or sing the national anthem. He directed his question to Maiola, a 13-year-old student who is a baptized Witness. Maiola gave a clear, Scripturally based explanation. The teacher accepted her reasoning since it was from the Bible. Her explanation was also shared with the rest of the school staff.
Later, when the students were assigned to write essays, Maiola chose the subject of the Trinity. Her essay received the highest marks in the class, and the teacher asked her where she had found the information. She showed him the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth in the English language. The teacher proceeded to present the book to the entire class, and many wanted a copy of their own. The next day, Maiola placed 14 books and 7 magazines with her schoolmates, and she started Bible studies with three of them. Maiola’s goal is to become a full-time minister.
• An isolated group of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a coastal village near Port Moresby has faced opposition since the early 1970’s. Recently, however, they received help from an unexpected source. The bishop of the United Church there, a native of Papua New Guinea who was educated overseas, invited questions from the audience at church one day. A man inquired: “There are two religions in our village—the United Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses. What should we do when the Witnesses come to our door?” After a long pause, the bishop replied: “You know, I really don’t know what to tell you. Recently, two young Witnesses came to my door. They asked me a question, and with all my university training, I didn’t know the answer. But they easily gave me the answer from the Bible. So I’m not going to tell you what to do—I’ll leave it up to you. You don’t have to listen if you don’t want to, but don’t be violent with them.”
A traveling representative of the Watch Tower Society who later visited this group of Witnesses reported: “Almost everyone in the village listened to the Witnesses when they went preaching. Some even invited them into their homes. It is a paradise for preaching now.”