About Papua New Guinea

Hauna Village

Hauna village is located on the Sepik river, about 110 miles upriver from the town of Ambunti in Papua New Guinea.

When Jesus said to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, he surely must have been talking about Hauna Village. Many people in the world have no idea where Papua New Guinea is, and most people in Papua New Guinea have never even heard of Hauna!

Much of Papua New Guinea was catapulted from the Stone Age to the Space Age in one generation. The coastal areas of this strategically located island were occupied by military forces of both sides in World War Two. Instead of wooden spears, bone knives and stone axes, these strangely decorated foreigners used steel machetes and firearms, and talked into little boxes that spoke back to them. That seemed like magic.

But WWII didn’t reach the little village of Hauna, 110 miles up the Sepik River from the coast. Before Marilyn and her fellow missionary Judy first arrived there, the people of Hauna had never seen a white-skinned human being. The locals were perplexed, because these newcomers had a “second skin” (clothes) that prevented anyone from being able to tell if they were male or female. It was finally decided that they were neither – they must be spirits.

Hauna Culture

Hauna culture is rooted in the Family – especially children. Their language, Sepik Iwam, doesn’t even have a word for divorce or orphan! To dissolve a marriage was unthinkable. If a child’s parents died, the relatives would raise him or her as their own.

The family would be together during the day, but at night the men sleep in one long house and the women in another. Children stayed with the women, and when the boys reached a certain age, they would move to the men’s house and be discipled in Hauna traditions. Marilyn, seeing all the pregnant women and all the babies, wondered about those arrangements. Then she heard that a couple’s time alone was in their garden in the jungle. Riddle solved!

Each house would have three medicine men who were responsible for the health and well-being of the people. When someone was sick, these men would call on the evil spirits to relent. They’d use fetishes and animal sacrifices to try to appease them, often without success. They’d also apply medicinal herbs and plants, often chewing some and then spitting on the part of the body affected by the illness. Their word for doctor was “Spitter”.

In many ways, Hauna culture is like that of the Bible, so it’s not surprising that they readily embraced it. They also saw the power of God’s Word over evil spirits. When they heard the story of Jesus healing the blind man by spitting in the dirt, making mud and putting it on the man’s eyes to heal him, they exclaimed, “Jesus is the most powerful Spitter in the world!”

It’s truly amazing how the unique culture of Hauna has been strengthened by the Scriptures. It has helped them resist the encroachment of foreign traders who have tried to cheat them in business, introduce vices and otherwise corrupt the God-honoring aspects of their traditional culture. They have built schools, clinics and churches. They are healthier, happier and better educated than ever before.

One of their major activities now is to reach out to other villages – to people who were their traditional enemies – to share the love, forgiveness and eternal life that is found in Jesus Christ.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

– Isaiah 9:2