Project: Mercy Ministry in Papua New Guinea

  • Post category:Asia / Projects

Project ID: PG0002-62517

Goal: $22,727

Mercy work in Papua New Guinea combats the false beliefs and inhumane practices associated with “Sanguma” or Sorcery-Accusation Related Violence (SARV). SARV grows from a false set of beliefs surrounding illness and death, often in rural communities. 

Innocent men, women, or children are accused of causing a death, and thereby identified by villagers as being a “Sanguma” or a witch. In an attempt to bring the dead back to life and rid the community of Sanguma, villagers will mercilessly abuse, torture and in many cases murder those accused of being witches. 

Previously unknown in the Enga Province, this practice has become widespread in the last five years. Most Papuans, including Christians, will not stand against this violence. They do not know what to say and fear retribution against them and their families. This has led to numerous episodes of torture and murder in the past five years.

Besides being directly involved in efforts to stop Sanguma violence, rescuing, and assisting victims, LCMS missionaries are equipping the church to speak out against SARV. In 2018 they produced a document entitled Against False Sanguma Beliefs: 23 Theses and a Statement of Faith for Christians. LCMS Missionaries and the GLC dedicated this one-of-a-kind document at a special worship service at Timothy Lutheran Seminary on the PNG National Day of Repentance. Some GLC bishops and pastors use this resource to speak out against SARV and call people to repentance.

This project, “PNG Support for Mercy projects” will produce additional print, video and audio resources to equip GLC pastors, evangelists and members to combat this abuse. The LCMS missionaries and the GLC will identify, train and support individuals who will educate churches and target audiences on what the Bible teaches about SARV. Funds will also help rescue victims and ensure the safety of survivors and those forced to live in exile. Through these efforts many will repent and return to Jesus Christ as their only hope for life and salvation.

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Roy S. Askins

The Rev. Roy S. Askins now serves as managing editor for The Lutheran Witness the official publication of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.