Freedom for Wampan

Wampan is an isolated village in the Morobe province of Papua New Guinea, deep in the heart of the untamed jungle. The village sits alongside the nation’s largest river and is tucked away by an encompassing mountain range. With a population of roughly four-hundred people, Wampan is one of the many isolated villages alongside the river. 

During our time in the port city of Lae, we were invited to join a local pastor on his trip to Wampan. What we didn’t know was that this village had not encountered external missionaries since their first encounter over seventy years earlier. This meeting had a tragic ending which would negatively affect the village for decades. As was customary in Papua New Guinea at that time, the missionaries who came to Wampan were killed and became victims of cannibalism. The story was passed down to each generation, along with the belief that their tribe was cursed because they didn’t welcome God’s people with honor. Since then, missionaries had stayed with other villages who shared the same tragic history, with the purpose of bringing reconciliation and forgiveness. However, the people of Wampan had been waiting and praying for generations to receive reconciliation and forgiveness of their own.  

The journey was very hot and took nine hours, split between buses, trucks, canoes, and by foot. As we arrived in Wampan, we were welcomed by a beautiful, custom ceremony and had flower leis placed on us. We took off our shoes to enter the land with honor, through an archway of greenery. As we walked through the isle of banana leaves and kids school shirts, the youth danced around us with their traditional dance. Then the villagers sat us down and washed our feet. They also read to us out of Romans 10:13-15, a passage that celebrates those who are sent to bring the message of the gospel. It was after this incredible welcome and display of hospitality that we were brought into the vulnerable story that this village had carried for decades.

Our jaws dropped as we heard about what had happened, not at all expecting this to be the situation we were coming into. Clearly there was a God story being written here and we were being given a part to contribute. While it was awe-inspiring, it also brought about a great fear of the Lord as we asked the question, what is to be our response and how are we to steward this moment well?

The first day, we held an open air service for everyone to attend. We felt the Lord lead our focus to preach about freedom found in repentance and the power available in Christ to overcome generational curses. At the end of the service we gave an open invitation for anyone to come forward and repent from their sins or the sins of their ancestors. Between fifty and seventy adults rushed to the front!

The next day we found out that after the service, the whole community sat as a tribe debriefing what they had heard, what the Lord did, and what their response should be. As a tribe, they determined in their hearts that they wanted to host a reconciliation service. Within the reconciliation service, forty elders who represented the four clans of the tribe came forward to repent. This act was done on behalf of their ancestors for the act of killing and cannibalizing the first group of missionaries. We then came forward on behalf of those missionaries, releasing forgiveness to the village. From there we were able to proclaim the closing of their chapter of shame and generational curses, and open up the chapter of forgiveness and freedom for the whole village! 

Throughout our stay, we continued our open air teachings and covered many discipleship topics. One day, we hosted a teaching on biblical freedom compared to worldly freedom. At the end of the teaching, the translator spoke with the village telling them that the reason they didn’t have freedom was because they had unforgiveness in their hearts. He challenged anyone that harbored unforgiveness to publicly go to that person and declare that they are forgiven. At that point, the pastor of the Lutheran church, the dominant church of the land, came forward to the pastor our team was being hosted by. He took him by the hand and publicly declared that he had previously hated this pastor so much that he hoped he would die. With tears in his eyes, he repented and forgave the pastor. He expressed to all who were present that he now desired to support his fellow pastor and his church. This was a monumental moment for the tribe, as the only two churches, which were once fierce rivals, were now reconciled. 

In only six days the Lord did a radical work in this village, breaking generations of hopelessness and putting his character and nature on display. He revealed himself as the God who extends mercy and forgiveness to all who ask for it. 

The Lord is now leading a team of us back to Wampan to continue what was started. On May 11 we will leave for three weeks in order to bring biblical discipleship along with five hundred bibles written in the local language. Our goal is to bring teachings on the overview of the old and new testaments, the different writing styles in the Bible, and how to read, study and apply Scripture to our own lives. We desire to equip the village with long term resources and allow Scripture to be their discipler.

We would also like to extend an invitation to anyone wishing to partner with us in discipling and equipping the village of Wampan. We would love your support in prayer as we prepare for this trip, as well as praying for us as we are ministering in Wampan from May 11 -31. We are also still fundraising the sum of five thousand dollars to cover the cost of the five hundred bibles we will be bringing to the village. To donate to this cause you can click the link then select “Specific Project” in the drop down menu and add “BIBLES FOR PNG” in the comments.

Follow the link to watch the video testimony of this story

Carissa Morris

YWAM Ships Kona Staff

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